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Discussion Starter #1
Making some progress. I started with the plan of building a FEL for my 318, but a good deal on a 425 came along. So I will continue with the plan of using the 425. It has better on board hydraulics and a much better directional control (foot actuated).

Do you guys think the bucket mock up in this picture has enough curl at ground height? The loader arm in the picture is positioned so that the bucket would be at ground height if attached to the tractor. I'm thinking of making the bucket a little taller, but this was the tallest piece of cardboard I had handy for a mock up.
 

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That is about right. The problem with too much curl is that it usually results in less dump at full height.
 

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That is about right. The problem with too much curl is that it usually results in less dump at full height.
Or material coming off the back side onto the hood when lifted to full height and curled all the way back. This is a common occurrence when using a loader for snow removal and can happen almost as easily with gravel or dirt if the material in the bucket is piled high.

Most GT buckets are roughly square in dimension, height equals front to back depth. Your design appears to be shorter in height than front to back. Excess front to back depth results in less lifting force at the cutting edge, a fact that you will appreciate more when you make use of it.
 

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Here's a thread that you will find interesting.

And another with some helpful links.
 

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You also want to make the total down position of the bucket when the bottom is parallel to the ground about 2 inches below the surface. This will allow a flat scraping of the ground without having the front edge of the bucket tilted downward. If you wanted to level a bumpy area you would want this function to have a bottom below the surface you are working on. The way I did mine was to put the tractor tires on 2-inch boards when fitting the bucket to the arms. The bucket was on the floor of my shop so when I finished the bucket would go down to two inches below the shop floor.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here's a thread that you will find interesting.

And another with some helpful links.
That thread of Eric's was very informative. You discussed 3" below grade and flat bottom. Rudy suggested at least 2". I'll check that in my mock up.

I would like to add a comment, because timberwolf was critical of the cost of a set of plans. I started with Paul's plans from P.F. Engineering. He was really helpful and responsive with initial questions of mine. I'm only an hour away from him and he even offered me to come out and check out his loader in person. I realize there is lots of room for style beyond his design, but I think he makes it so average guys can actually build a FEL. I think his price is very fair for the amount of info you get in one complete package. Very few of us have the time, facility, and skill to build a beautiful loader like Grampajay's. I strayed a little from Paul's design for a few reasons, and most of them are dumb so I won't elaborate. Now I'm in the process of correcting the mistakes I have already made. I don't think I have gotten too far off track.


In Eric's thread you commented on the strength of round cross bar compared to square tube. I have a 2 1/4", 1/8" wall tube that I was planning on using for the cross bar. That's similar to the JD 4X loaders. Eric's cross bar was much smaller, I think only 1.5". Do you think my tube is strong enough?
 

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Refresh my memory please. Which cross bar? There are two, one between the arms to control racking, and one on the subframe to support the posts.

On mine, the one between the arms is roughly 3" square by 1/16" (original) and is a bit lighter than I would choose, but it has survived. The one supporting the posts is 2" square by 1/4" wall (my build) and is maybe a bit on the heavy side but it did have to lift the rear of the tractor with over 800 lb of ballast (total over 1500 lb with tractor and operator) to counter payload in the bucket.
 

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All the loaders that I have owned or built had round cross arm braces. I know that squares/rectangles are technically stronger but it must not be a big thing because so many loaders have round tubes. The one on my 44 is about 2-inches around and 1/4 thick. I can't imagine twisting that with the short arms on the loader. It also goes through all sides of the arms and is welded on both sides. Maybe Tudor can explain what that does versus welding a square tube on only one side of each arm. I think when we are building a loader, we have a tendency to overbuild them. If you look at the old Johnson series they looked like toys yet they are still around today. No matter, just make it like you want it and it will outperform all of us!
 

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the 425 works well with a loader; suggest adjusting the implement pressure after you finish to maximize your usage of the FEL. Assume you plan to run the FEL off the OEM implement valve? the OEM loader for the 425 was the JD No. 40 loader; which has long been out of fabrication by John Deere and used ones are rare finds ( very few were sold due to the high sticker price approx. $3,000 ) I did own a 425 w a 40 loader, attached are the few pic's I have; hope it helps? good luck!!
 

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The skeptic in me tells me that a round crossbar (pipe) is used, instead of rectangular or square tubing, mainly because it is easier to manufacture. I do think that the loader arm assembly is much stronger if the crosspipe goes through the loader arm and is welded on both sides, compared to just butting up to and welded against the inside, like the Johnson loaders. I think it would be harder for a manufacturer to cut the square or rectangular holes.

On my homebuilt loader, I used 2 x 4 x 3/16" tubing, cut through the arms, welded on both sides. A heavy walled pipe would have worked too.
 

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All the loaders that I have owned or built had round cross arm braces. I know that squares/rectangles are technically stronger but it must not be a big thing because so many loaders have round tubes. The one on my 44 is about 2-inches around and 1/4 thick. I can't imagine twisting that with the short arms on the loader. It also goes through all sides of the arms and is welded on both sides. Maybe Tudor can explain what that does versus welding a square tube on only one side of each arm. I think when we are building a loader, we have a tendency to overbuild them. If you look at the old Johnson series they looked like toys yet they are still around today. No matter, just make it like you want it and it will outperform all of us!
The bucket is 6' from the top of the posts. That is not a short distance should the side of the bucket slam into something that doesn't want to move, hence the need for that cross bar for additional strength from lateral loads.

Through the arms and welded on both sides makes for stronger connections and a more rigid set of arms for picking up asymmetrical loads such as prying with one corner of the bucket. Since both cylinders apply the same force, the one on the side of the loader that is not lifting a load could potentially bend the loader arms out of square over a period of time if the cross bar wasn't secure.

Round cross bars that go through the arms are not normally as large in dimension as square cross bars that make use of the top and bottom of the arms to the same effect.

With the forces in use for GT loaders, it's a toss-up as to which is better. It is a lot easier to just use a large dimension square tube type cross bar welded to the insides of the arms. A side benefit is the ready made broad, flat surface to mount the crossover lines from one arm to the other.
 

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I think the round pipe (used on my #45 FEL on the x595) is a lower cost install. the hole in the arms is round (drilled ) and the pipe is cheap, just cut to length and weld on both sides. - done. the cross tube is critical to keeping the arms straight. Have seem one instance (cheap over-seas copy) where the arms were bent when trying to lift with just a corner of the bucket!
 

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You are exactly right about round supports being done for cost reasons. I built a CAD plans loader and it called for a round cross support because the average guy does not have the means to cut four square holes in the lift arms. JD uses round tubes for economy because drilling a round hole is fast and efficient compared to a CNC cutting machine and the time involved. I drilled my round holes through both arms together so that they would be square when welded. I cannot imagine how a guy in his shop could cut four rectangle holes that are coincident. I have a plasma cutter that would do the job but I would never know until I welded them if they were plumb. As with many things, cost is the big driver but in this case DIY loaders also have simplicity to contend with. That's a very nice looking loader you built!
 

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Thanks. I think you were referring to my loader, lol!

"I cannot imagine how a guy in his shop could cut four rectangle holes that are coincident."

I drilled the corner holes on one side, and then just drilled through to the other side. With the tubing laying flat on the drill press table, it was supposed to be quite close on the far side. Then cut the lines with a plasma cutter. Seemed to work.
 

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"I drilled the corner holes on one side, and then just drilled through to the other side. With the tubing laying flat on the drill press table, it was supposed to be quite close on the far side. Then cut the lines with a plasma cutter. Seemed to work."
That's what I said. I have a plasma cutter and I know that I could cut the four holes but most people do not have a plasma cutter. Thus the metal cutting hole saw bit does the job for a few dollars. Just like some here on this forum who have an entire machine shop at their disposal, but for most, they have to make do with simpler tools. In the time it took you to drill and cut four rectangular holes I could have drilled four round ones and had them welded up and painted all with equipment that cost just a few dollars. That is why the round bar is so popular.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I have a round bar and the correct size hole saw. That's looking really attractive right now. I do have a plasma cutter and a Bridgeport too, but I don't have the rectangular stock. My serious fab equipment is at my shop 40 minutes away. I'm trying to do this build at home, stealing an hour to two at a time to keep making progress. Every time I have to go to the shop costs me 1 1/2 hours in the car not building anything. My dream is to build a big garage at home and move all my shop stuff here, but that's a discussion for another thread or forum.
 

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Unless a person abuses his FEL, either round or square will work fine. Only at the breaking point would the extra strength/rigidity of square over round come into place. If a person is dumb enough to try and lift or pull a heavy object with only one arm of his FEL then warping it may be what he deserves. The loader is built on the symmetrical principal where loads are divided equally. If you distort that process then the built-in strength of the design will be lost and damage or failure will occur. This is why most loaders have a single hook in the top center of the bucket. It is pretty hard to get an asymmetrical load from that central point. Some use two hooks, one on each side, which is better but makes rigging more involved and difficult and it also makes getting an asymmetrical load more likely if the rigging isn't done right.
 

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Unless a person abuses his FEL, either round or square will work fine. Only at the breaking point would the extra strength/rigidity of square over round come into place. If a person is dumb enough to try and lift or pull a heavy object with only one arm of his FEL then warping it may be what he deserves. The loader is built on the symmetrical principal where loads are divided equally. If you distort that process then the built-in strength of the design will be lost and damage or failure will occur. This is why most loaders have a single hook in the top center of the bucket. It is pretty hard to get an asymmetrical load from that central point. Some use two hooks, one on each side, which is better but makes rigging more involved and difficult and it also makes getting an asymmetrical load more likely if the rigging isn't done right.
You are correct, but sometimes maneuvering space restrictions make asymmetrical loading a necessity. To this end, the top edge of the bucket for my GT is turned up to provide a place to position chain hooks to best advantage, In addition, there are 6 hard mounts for chain shackles that also reinforce that edge.

 

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We are talking a comparison of torsional stiffness comparing round tubing to square tubing. The torsional stiffness is about the same given an equivalent size. Take a 2" square tube of 1/8" wall. The equivalent stiffness round tube would be the size of the diagonal of the 2" square (about 2-5/8") and 1/8" thickness.
 
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