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126 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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The first 'garden tractor' i ever bought was an engineless high-wheel Case (i believe its a 446 but will verify and edit that in) that i spotted online. They're extremely rare down here so until i saw this one i didnt realize any of them existed(, but i was drawn in by its all-hydraulic drive system and the fact that this one had a small 3 pt hitch (missing all arms). Upon doing a little reading I found out it was pretty optimal for me to have a high-wheel (for looks, mostly) and a 3pt (for function) since lots of Case models didn't come with either!

Anyway, the original thought I had for the use of this thing was to build a small boom/pallet fork thing onto the 3pt to move engines and job boxes and other giant containers full of heavy parts around outside my small shop where i mostly work on cars. I ended up leaving this one sitting (because i couldnt decide how to power it) and building my 'Crane Mower' first which accomplished some of those goals. I even bought a SCUT with FEL after that, but never lost my attraction to the engine-less Case!

At some point I got tired of myself going back and forth on what would be the "best" (at being weird, goofy, nearly free) option to repower it with and decided to order a $99 on-sale Predator 212 from Harbor Freight. This after just barely deciding not to use a Ninja250 motorcycle engine i have which WILL go on a garden tractor at some point, just you wait! Well, the 212 got lost in shipping according to tracking. Then they sent me an email saying they never actually shipped it, and refunded my order. I took it as some kind of sign to hold out for a new more ambitious idea to pop into my head, so I didn't reorder another one. Nevertheless, about a month later, a dinged up Predator 212 box showed up, and at this point it was (deservedly..) free! I then took THAT as a sign to continue the plan.

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I adapted the stock pump/bracket combo to the Predator 212s mounting pattern with a piece of aluminum as an adapter plate. I adapted the 212s engine mounting pattern to the Case frame with a kitchen cutting board as an adapter plate. I had to order the engine side of the lovejoy drive coupling because the 212 has a 3/4" crank while the stock engine for this would have been 1-1/8". I had to extend the hydraulic hoses to the pump because i decided to rotate the entire assembly 180 and have the pump mounted in the front.
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This has been 'complete' and usable for a few months now. The reason I never cared to replicate the stock setup is because I never planned to power anything off a belt drive, or power anything hydraulically other than the 3pt hitch and drive motor, or possibly a custom loader build down the line. I also wanted to be able to run the tractor fairly quietly (a modified muffler is on the list). I knew that ~6hp would be more than adequate to push the tractor to full speed and lift more than the 3pt could handle, and this turned out to be correct. However, I've since decided to use it for light ground engagement as well and have updated my scheme to include increasing my low-speed pulling power through use of.. a 2 stage log splitter hydraulic pump? That's been sitting on my toolbox for a month or two now, awaiting its turn. Since my original lifting duties goal was duplicated by other machines, this little tractor became mostly a testbed for experimentation with hydraulics. I also plan to overspeed my chinesium pump splitter (the 212) AND my chinesium splitter pump, and see how that goes. I have a lot of theories that I'll elaborate on in subsequent posts. For now, here are a couple of pics I already have, and more/better will be forthcoming.

126 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
First thing I actually did to the tractor after buying it and having it sit around for a year or more, was to work on a fork attachment for the 3pt. The 3pt did not come with any of the arms, just the rockshaft, cylinder, and the mounting base those sit on. Not wanting to actually spend any money on what i saw as a bad, maybe unworkable idea of building my own 3pt arms, I found a way to use a couple of things i had as proof of concept and if they survived further than that, great! Namely, track/panhard bars from a couple of different cars. One i believe was a track bar from an ~05 Mustang, and one was for an 80s-90s Chrysler fwd K-car (which i own several of, mostly turbocharged). The reason i picked these is because almost immediately after buying the tractor, I had bought a 3-pt trailer hitch frame for it to build pallet forks onto, and it came with CAT1 pins. The Case is CAT0 originally, but I figured if i was going to be building my own arms id better build them for CAT1 since that type of hardware is so much more widely available. The two trackbars had bushed ends that correlated to CAT0 (chrysler) and CAT1 (ford) pin sizes, once the inner sleeve of the bushings was pressed out. Once i cut those bars in half, i had two tractor ends and two implement ends. Some assembly required!
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To remove the inner bushing sleeves, I blew a propane torch flame through the inner sleeve to heat it up and 'release' the bond of rubber to steel, then pushed them out in my shop press. Im aware that these are a poor substitute for a spherical joint like what's supposed to be here, but i suspected it might be good enough and last a little while before I bought something nicer. One of the reasons I wanted to build my own arms anyway was to pull the attachment as close to the tractor as possible to increase the lifting ability of the 3pt. The arms ended up much shorter than Cat1 arms, but turned out to be about the exact same as stock cat0 Case arms, so the lift was really just 'not decreased'.

Anyway, if you want to hook cat0 inner to cat1 outer AND bring it as close to the tractor as possible and not hit the tire, the arms had to be curved. I did that by bending them over some.. round objects in my press. Such as a piston. Well two pistons, one from an engine and one from a brake caliper. Couple of bushing driver handles for good measure. 馃槀
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Did some bends on the other ends too but took no pictures. Anyway, since the Chrysler arm was an open U-channel (the reason I have extra k-car track bars around is i weld them together like this <> into a single boxed section to reinforce them because they bend easily) i was able to simply hammer it down over the boxed Ford bar to 'nest' them together before welding.
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On the left you can see me trying to get some rough lengths figured out before making the bends and welding. I had to leave that much of a gap between tire and implement because the short arms brought the implement closer to the tires as it rose up. You can also see my intent to use swaybar endlinks as lift links. On the right you can see one arm bent and welded to basically its final form, and see how close I had the implement to the tire when raised. The flex of the bushings allowed enough movement that I could slip the arms on and off the implement pins.

Ok so what about that weird metal thing under the off-the-shelf receiver hitch frame? Well, I was helping an uncle clean out his shop and came across a U-shaped piece made of C-channel that he had built to mount a large stainless cooktop to an outdoor countertop but never finished. I had the thought that it looked the right size and roughly strong enough to be some crappy pallet forks, so i took it home rather than letting him scrap it. What about the black things? Those are front tow hooks off a Jeep Commander. I had two thoughts when it came to how to attach it to the receiver hitch frame. I still wanted to be able to use the hitch, so i could either A: make the forks removable from the frame, or B: allow them to pivot upright to the frame when not in use. I decided that while having the forks pivot upward would be nice, the forks were also heavy enough that whether they were permanently attached or came off, either way i was going to be wrestling with them and didn't want to deal with that. I figured that If I protected the exposed threads of the Cat1 pins, I could simply back the pins up under some hooks on the U-frame, pick it up and drive off with it and also drive out from under it when i was done with it without having to manually lift the thing myself. I had thought to have something hook from the back of the U-frame to the back of the tractor which would cause the frame to pivot upwards somewhere near the top of the 3pt travel, but i had visions of accidentally popping myself in the back of the head with over-traveling pallet forks and dying a terrible death unless I built some kind of stops for it, and I couldn't think of an easy way to make that linkage 'self attaching' like the hooks, so i just abandoned the self-stowing idea completely.

The reason there is a drawbar and hitch ball mounted backwards through the receiver is that I figured out if i took the drawbar that was probably going to be hanging out the back of the receiver anyway (which is not the one pictured) and put it in through the front, the U frame contacting the drawbar/hitch ball would stop the Uframe from drooping downwards enough to contact the 3pt arms, while also allowing me to drive out from under the hooks when i set the U frame down. Unfortunately I don't have a pic of that happening right now, but ill try to remember to take one.

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Tread Motor vehicle
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Motor vehicle Tread

Pic on the left shows the full view of this u-frame thing hanging on the hooks (resting on stands because the drawbar thing is not in in this pic). The pic on the right i zoomed in and drew the motion path that lets you back in and pick this up, or put it down and drive out from under the hooks. The hooks are angled slightly away from each other to form a 'funnel' so that you don't have to be totally precise backing up to it. It self-centers as you push into it.

Continued in next post because im uploading too many pics for one post...

126 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So i did actually finish this thing and test it, but so far only on my Kubota B6100 which has a totally normal Cat1 3pt of a similar ~500lb capacity to the Case cat0. I've used it to move engines on pallets successfully. I have a video of me backing up to the frame on the ground, picking it up, feeding it into a pallet with a 5.6L V8 on it, picking up the engine and driving with it, putting it down, and putting the U frame down and driving out from under that. I'll figure out how to upload that. It's basically 'poor mans quick attach 3 pt pallet forks' except instead of your typical 2000+ lb fork rating, id give this thing a solid 600+ lb capacity rating.馃槄 Im not saying it's great! But technically the only thing in this 'build' i paid money for was the red hitch frame which i got for $59 on Amazon. Everything else i got for free or already had. I have yet to bend it.

As consolation for not having any pics of it doing its actual main job on a 3pt (whoops) I do have these of using it on the front bucket of my Kubota. It's like clamp-on bucket forks but with no clamps (doesn't that sound great?!). A less stressful analogy would be, it works in the same way that a skid steer can pick up and move quick attach items without actually engaging the lock pins. You curl back to hold the item, and 'dump' out from under it to release it.

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126 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
So i did finish those 3pt arms enough to use with a piece of chain rigged up instead of lift links, but then I happened to come across an actual Case 3pt setup semi-local and paid too much money for it and put the DIY arms/links on hold.
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Here's a pic showing how it was briefly being used, being too lazy to build actual lift links (meaning i couldnt use the down-pressure feature of the 3pt). There's a temporary little rod stuck in there as a top link in that pic to figure out the length and movements etc but i did have a real top link.
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There's how the arms I built looked next to the factory Cat0 arms i got later.
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So like I said, I came across a guy selling a bunch of Case odds and ends from his grandfather's estate. Most of it was of no use to me (factory engine stuff, mower decks, steering parts etc) but I did buy a 54" front blade which will probably never see another snowflake for the rest of its life down here, and a set of 3pt arms/links with this sleeve hitch A-frame thing. All the ball sockets and threads were seized up so the first order of business was heat, hammering, wire wheel, and anti-seize. I had a new top link anyway (decided not to build my own when i did the DIY lower arms) so i didn't rehab the seized up top link it came with yet, BUT im probably going to cut it in half and use those as the tractor ends of the DIY lower arms i built, since the top link has actual 5/8 ball joints there.

Right away I decided to modify the frame because I noticed that I could leave the sleeve hitch part functional, but turn the A-frame around the other way and mount a 2" receiver to it. The receiver is a Harbor Freight "ATV Hitch" which as far as ive found is the absolute cheapest 2" receiver that is pre-drilled for the pin and has a decent hoop for safety chains or whatever kind of hook you want to put to it. It's currently $12.
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I figured if i welded this thing on backwards i would have a 2" receiver AND a clevis hole to pull regular riding mower stuff. Not all my 2" drawbars fit into it because some of them hit the 'tongue' of metal (where the bolt is shown in the above pic) before the pin hole lines up, but some do. It totally works. So now the a-frame is sleeve hitch on one side, or 2" drawbar & clevis hole on the other side.

The most use i've put on the tractor so far is pulling around a Guide Gear ATV Landscape Rake. The power-down ability of the Case 3pt is VERY useful for this type of implement. I put it on a pretty long 2" bar so that I can get more lift height to use it to move piles. I can lift it over a pile, set down behind it or push down on top of it, and pull the pile of sticks/branches/straw etc with it.
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126 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So I keep walking by this thing and forgetting to take better pics. I will come back and edit in better pics to this post, but for now..

I mentioned that I made two adapter plates to fit the Predator 212 to the stock frame and stock hydraulic pump bracket.
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When I was deciding how to mount the engine, I wanted it to be mounted on bushings. At some point a while back I had picked up a kitchen cutting board out of a junk pile and thought "this would be super easy to cut and drill.. someday i'll use this to prototype a plate or bracket before making the real thing". Well, that cutting board now has chunks cut out of it that i used for other things, but I had the thought that on this application of holding down a ~25lb engine that doesn't exert torque (the pump is bolted to the engine itself so no torque from the crankshaft makes it 'out' of the mounting plate), maybe a cutting board would be strong enough to do the real job. And maybe the slight flexibility would aid in damping the engine's vibrations? So i measured the engine mounting area on the frame and ordered a cutting board that fit that space for about $9 on Amazon. It is mounted through the 4 stock holes in the frame with bushings on top and bottom. I believe most of the bushings I used are either shock aborber mounting bushings or swaybar endlink bushings from cars. As a mechanic I replace lots of those pieces and usually at least some of the bushings are still intact and they have fairly large washers on them which i also 'collect'. The engine is mounted to the cutting board with some small/thin pieces of angle iron on the bottom which spread the load a bit and prevent the board from 'sagging' in the middle since it is a bit flexible.

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To adapt the factory pump mounting bracket to the smaller bolt pattern of the engine, i sandwiched an aluminum plate between them. The plate has 9 holes in it. 1 for the crank, 4 for the engine bolt pattern, and 4 for the pump bracket pattern. Since the pump is driven with a lovejoy coupling that allows for minor misalignments, I just left all the bolts/nuts snug and lightly tapped it around until it was 'good enough'. I had the spark plug out of the engine and was spinning the engine to check for binding or 'unevenness' to the spinning resistance, as well as looking at it visually. Seems to be working fine! I did have to buy the engine-side jaw coupling since stock shaft size was 1 1/8 and the 212 has a 3/4" driveshaft.
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