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post #1 of 25 Old 01-14-2013, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Hi all -

I wanted to post up some info about the LP33711 electric lift kit Deere makes for the x500 and x300 series garden tractors... I saw some people here were discussing it and after installing it I thought some of you may want to know how it went...

The story begins when I bought my '08 x500 in '11 shortly after purchasing my home... The driveway and lawn are fairly big so I knew I wanted a machine which could mow and move snow (250'+ long driveway and 100'x50' parking area) and I found a used x500 for sale online.

The machine I bought came with a standard 48" mowing deck and a Bercomac Northeast 48" 2-stage snow blower. Last winter ('11-'12) was the first year I used the blower and I was mostly pleased with the performance. I had two complaints after using the blower... First, the mechanical lift system had some drawbacks - the blower didn't really want to ride on the ground cause the lift mechanism was constantly "lifting it", and "too little" snow (~1" or less), particularly if it was wet / slushy, was a problem and would clog the chute unless I went recklessly fast.

The second problem was the easier of the two -- get a plow blade... More on that later.

We have had two big snow falls this winter (and a couple light ones) that I cleared with the blower in late Dec last month... Again running into the problems I had last year with the mechanical lift system.

After the first storm in December I spent a fair amount of time trying to get the Bercomac / Deere mechanical lift mechanism to work better than it was designed to (without much success). This lead me to investigate building my own DIY lift system for the snow blower... I looked at trying to tap into the hydrostatic transmission ports, but ultimately concluded this approach would be really expensive and complex. I also looked into using a small ATV winch to lift the blower, but couldn't come up with a mounting system / anchor points I liked in the space available. While searching around for alternative ideas I started to look at linear 12v DC electric actuators and stumbled into this forum (google strikes again!) and a couple of discussions about the John Deere LP33711 electric lift kit for the x500 / x300... No one had used it and several people were asking about it.

I found the LP33711 online for $400 + shipping... Sounds expensive, but when I looked at the cost of the parts for my DIY system I realized the $ would probably be the same and this kit was designed to be a bolt-on, which would save a ton of time... The only unknown was could I make it work with the Bercomac implement I had?

After a call to my local dealer, who was kind enough to match the internet price I found, I was able to get a copy of the install manual and get a look at how the JD kit worked... It didn't take long for me to decide to take a chance -- I figured I'd modify it to make it work as needed. Couple weeks ago (after the 2nd large storm) the kit showed up and I spent a Saturday afternoon with my Dad in my garage figuring out how to make it work on my tractor (heated garages are awesome, BTW).

Installing the LP33711 kit was fairly easy, but I had to make some minor adjustments to make it work with the Bercomac snow blower. Three modifications were necessary...

1) The Bercomac blower uses a power transfer pulley sub-assembly that mounts to the belly of the tractor. The front of the sub-assembly is mounted uses a 1/2" dowel pin that spans the belly of the machine and is supported by two 1/2" holes in the frame... Turns out the mounting bracket JD's engineers wants to use to support the electric actuator also wants to use one of the same 1/2" holes on the frame as the Berco kit... My solution was to use a piece of 1/2" SS threaded rod in place of the dowel pin so I could securely bolt the bracket and still support the sub assembly.

2) The mechanical lifting mechanism that Bercomac provides uses a ~3/4" (or maybe 5/8") shaft for a pivot point that connects the mechanical lift pedal to the hinge mount where the blower mounts... The JD kit wanted to instal a large (1-1/4"?) metal pivot point (spans the width of the frame) in the same location. I ended up removing the Bercomac lifting mechanism cause it wasn't needed anyway, which made room. There was a Bercomac bracket I did retain and have to notch a little so that the push rod used to lift implements could clear it. The Berco bracket also held a plastic bushing which I had to remove, but I did reuse the Berco mounting bolt to secure the JD shaft bracket which wanted to use a hole in the frame the Berco kit was using.

3) The Bercomac system added subframe bracket to the front of the tractor with a large hinge where the blower mounted. It is a quick-change system that also can support several Bercomac implements and has a mounting point for the push-rod from the mechanical lift system -- very similar to the JD snow blower / blade lift mount points. Turns out the Bercomac bracket is ~5" further forward that the JD system. I had to use a small piece (~4.5") of 1/2"-13 SS rod and a 1-3/4x1/2-13 rod coupler (from Home Depot) to extend the factor JD push rod so I could reach the Bercomac bracket. I also had to add a 3/8" pin because the JD kit expects a 1/2" pin and the Bercomac mechanism expects a 3/8" pin.

These changes allowed me to install the JD electric linear actuator and pivot bracket so they worked with my Berco implement.

The wiring for the JD kit is pretty simple too... The wiring harness is designed to integrate with the existing wiring easily and has ample length to get routed to where it needs to go. You do have to drill a 1/2" hole (they give a template) in the dashboard to install the lift control switch. There is a wire from the ignition you have to tap into and there are a couple wires to connect to the battery and a relay / fuse pack to secure under the hood. Everything is fairly well marked and uses mating connectors... There are two sets of wires/connectors JD could have done a better job marking, but as long as you match the colors it is obvious what connects where.

When I was done I was really impressed with how well the system works. I can lift the blower 5"-6" off the ground in a second or so with the switch on the dash... I can also apply down-force and the mechanism is strong enough to lift the front of the machine... I adjusted it so the machine lifts ~1/2", but the tires stay on the ground, when fully down (at the limit of travel of the electric actuator).

Since installing the kit I haven't seen any snow, but I heard tonight that we're likely to get 3"-5" on Wed this week, so I expect to give it a thorough test.

I've got a 54" Berco snow blade on order (should be here by late Jan) for lighter snow falls. I can swap it onto the machine and the electric lift mechanism will work with it as well.

Anyway, if you've got an x500 (or x300) and you've got a blower or blade I'd definitely recommend the LP33711 kit if you aren't happy with the mechanical lifting system... The install on a stock x500/x300 should be really easy and without the complications I had to deal with because of my aftermarket implements. I expect I'll pull the actuator cylinder, which mounts under the left foot of the driver with a couple 1/2" pins, in the summer when it is time to put the mowing deck on at the same time I pull the snow blower off.

Good luck, and I hope some find this info useful!

JW
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post #2 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 12:05 AM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Thanks for the info: You can always post video's and pics of it in action?

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post #3 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 01:26 AM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Nice, sounds like it gives you much more precise control of the blower with the lift.

When it comes time for me to add a blower to my X320, I will definitely consider getting the lift with it. Thanks for all the great info.
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post #4 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 08:31 AM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade


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post #5 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 08:54 AM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Very nice, thorough write up. I hope it works out perfect for you and maybe you could post some pics of your x500 with the nervous blower sometime.

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post #6 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 09:46 AM Thread Starter
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Quote:
Originally Posted by forum009 View Post
Nice, sounds like it gives you much more precise control of the blower with the lift.

When it comes time for me to add a blower to my X320, I will definitely consider getting the lift with it. Thanks for all the great info.
I wouldn't use the word "precise"... The electric lift mechanism is simply ON/OFF to move the implement, and when ON it moves at full speed... It is not like a hydraulic system where you can control the speed of the cylinder by adjusting the amount of fluid you pump / allow through the valve.

I've got the lifting linkage apart for painting (done over the weekend) and I need to reassemble it for the snow we're supposed to get tomorrow... I'll take some pics tonight and see about posting them up.

JW
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post #7 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 10:04 AM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

auto lift is a GREAT feature, I would never go back to the manual lift, not for snowblowing or mowing anyway. (maybe it is fine for a plow)

glad the add-on works so well!

Pics would be appreciated!



.

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post #8 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 03:12 PM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Quote:
Originally Posted by nostaw View Post
I wouldn't use the word "precise"... The electric lift mechanism is simply ON/OFF to move the implement, and when ON it moves at full speed... It is not like a hydraulic system where you can control the speed of the cylinder by adjusting the amount of fluid you pump / allow through the valve.

I've got the lifting linkage apart for painting (done over the weekend) and I need to reassemble it for the snow we're supposed to get tomorrow... I'll take some pics tonight and see about posting them up.

JW
I thought it would allow you to stop at any point, both on the way up or down. Perhaps I am mistaken, so is it only all the way up or all the way down (with the mower deck height control knob controlling the ground clearance)?
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post #9 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 03:25 PM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Very informative and detailed write up, nice job. Let us know how your new mods work after the next snowfall. Some pictures of your setup would be great too.




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post #10 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

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Originally Posted by forum009 View Post
I thought it would allow you to stop at any point, both on the way up or down. Perhaps I am mistaken, so is it only all the way up or all the way down (with the mower deck height control knob controlling the ground clearance)?
No, you are not mistaken -- you can stop the electric lift at any point when moving the implement up or down (within the available range of motion).

Let me try to clarify... What I was trying to explain is the amount of "precision" control you have (or don't have) with the electric system and how it is different than a hydraulic system.

With a proportional hydraulic control valve typically there is a range of "on" from 0 (valve closed) to some max (valve fully open) so the more I open the valve the faster the cylinder moves. This means if I open the valve 1/2 way the cylinder moves 1/2 the speed as when the valve is fully open, 1/4 open gets 1/4 speed, etc... The benefit is that the proportional control valve with hydraulics allows you to make small, slow movements and achieve some precision in adjusting your implement.

The electric mechanism is different because the lift mechanism is either on (and moving at a fixed speed, around 1-2" per second) or off (stationary) and doesn't offer/allow the proportional control available with a hydraulics. The only way I can control how far the implement moves is to time how long I hold the switch ON when moving up or down... A "quick bump" may be 1/2 a second and the mechanism tries to move ~1" (ish).... As a result I think the electric system isn't going to be as precise if you're trying to position your implement.

Does that make sense?

JW
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post #11 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 03:54 PM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Great write up! Thanks for taking the time to type that all out.

It would be nice if there was something similar to this that could also raise and lower both the mower deck as well as the power integral hitch available for the X530 and X540.

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post #12 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Here are some pics, as requested. Click on the thumbnails to get to a full sized version.

The first pic is "borrowed" from the JD LP33711 manual... It shows the mechanical pieces that make up the lift kit... I didn't use all of them in my installation because I have a Bercomac snow blower... Specifically, I didn't use bracket N.



From the pic you can see the major parts... In my original description I explained I had to accommodate a bracket that shared a hole with a sub-assembly for the Berco drivetrain. That bracket is 'A' in the above image and looks like this:


The thin green line just below the tractor frame is the belt that comes from the PTO to the drive sub-assembly and you can see the lower pully that runs the main belt that connects to the blower's fan.

This image shows the main parts of the 12v DC linear actuator motor and the front pivot bracket (K & S in the top diagram). At the moment the mechanism is in the "down" position (so the blower is on the ground), but without down-force on it:



Here is the actuator fully extended with the implement up:



The blower is 5"-6" off the ground:



The next two images shows the connecting rod (W on the first diagram) that connects the pivot to the implement and the extension I had to add to make it work with my Berco implement mount. I could increase or decrease the amount of down-force or the maximum down or up position by adjusting the length of this rod, but I can't adjust the total length of travel. JD uses standard SAE 1/2-13 RH twist fittings on both ends of this rod, so even if the rod slips a little the total length won't change.





This image shows the pivot point and the Berco bracket I had to notch. The mounting rod for the pivot (runs through the K bracket) had to go through a hole in this bracket. In this shot the blower is down.



It is a little bit tight around the pivot point bracket (K) and Berco bracket, but everything clears over the full range of travel... The purpose of the Berco bracket is to support the manual chute rotation control (not pictured):



The kit JD provides generally uses a circle clip for retaining the pins... They are kind of a PITA (IMO), so I replaced them with hitch pins everywhere.

JW
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post #13 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 06:21 PM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Very nice report. Thank You!

Gary

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post #14 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 08:27 PM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Nice report on the electric lift. Thanks!!

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post #15 of 25 Old 01-15-2013, 09:04 PM
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Re: x500 electric implement lift for snow blower / blade

Quote:
Originally Posted by nostaw View Post
No, you are not mistaken -- you can stop the electric lift at any point when moving the implement up or down (within the available range of motion).

Let me try to clarify... What I was trying to explain is the amount of "precision" control you have (or don't have) with the electric system and how it is different than a hydraulic system.

With a proportional hydraulic control valve typically there is a range of "on" from 0 (valve closed) to some max (valve fully open) so the more I open the valve the faster the cylinder moves. This means if I open the valve 1/2 way the cylinder moves 1/2 the speed as when the valve is fully open, 1/4 open gets 1/4 speed, etc... The benefit is that the proportional control valve with hydraulics allows you to make small, slow movements and achieve some precision in adjusting your implement.

The electric mechanism is different because the lift mechanism is either on (and moving at a fixed speed, around 1-2" per second) or off (stationary) and doesn't offer/allow the proportional control available with a hydraulics. The only way I can control how far the implement moves is to time how long I hold the switch ON when moving up or down... A "quick bump" may be 1/2 a second and the mechanism tries to move ~1" (ish).... As a result I think the electric system isn't going to be as precise if you're trying to position your implement.

Does that make sense?

JW

It makes perfect sense, really appreciate your effort in explaining this to me. When it comes time for snow blade or blower, looks like I will follow your route and get the electric lift with it.

Thanks.
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