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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm still tossing the idea of building an FEL for my MF14. I got lots of pics and examples of others (factory and custom) so I think I have a good idea of HOW it should be built. Now it's a question of materials.....

I have a bead on some metal, and if the sizes will work I could get the uprights, lift arms and cross member metal for $50.

For the light work that could be expected from a garden tractor like the MF14, would this material be sufficient for the loader?

Uprights - 2"x4" - 3/16" wall rect. tube. (one would be reservoir)
Lift/Bucket Arms - 2"x2" - 1/8" wall square tube.
Cross Member(s) - 2"x2" - 1/8" wall square tube.

These are the sizes the guy has. He might have something else in some used metal. But let's assume these sizes for now.

Oh... and the sheet metal for the bucket... should it be 1/8 or is that overkill?

Thanks for the input folks!
 

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Lindeman crawler fan
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Personally, I would use the 2x4x3/16 for the uprights and the lift arms.
2x2x1/8 may work OK for cross bracing but I sure wouldn't use it for the lift arms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hmmm.... lift arms on the Kwik-Way another member measured were 1-1/2" x 2-1/2". I've seen some pics of some spindly looking arms... some so beefy I'm sure the tractor frame would crack in half before the arms would! :)
 

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Lindeman crawler fan
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1-1/2x2-1/2 would work fine for loader arms on a garden tractor as long as they're at least 3/16 think.
Heck, I wouldn't have any problem using 2x2 if it had 1/4 inch wall thickness.
I just don't think you will be happy with 2x2x1/8 tube for loader arms.

On the other hand, if you built the arms with upper "bridge" bracing ( like the loader arms on my crawler ) then you could probable get away with the 1/8 wall thickness in the arms.

Remember .. you can't build it too strong, you can only build it too weak.
 

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As a user of a MF1655 with a FEL since 1984, 2x2 is too light for the arms and few of the structurals need to be more than 1/8" thick. Gussets should be 1/4" thick.

My posts are 2x4x1/8 and both serve as reservoirs with a connecting hose between them. The arms are still original and are box shaped 1/8" thick plate from 2" deep at the ends to 5.5"deep at the break in the arms and 1.75" wide. The cross tube between the arms is 3x4x1/8. The diagonals on mine were originally designed to be the reservoir and are 2x4x1/8. Way overkill, but it's what I had, so I used it. If I did it over, I'd use either 1.25" or 1.5" x 1/8" square tube.

This loader has lifted and transported 1400 lb........ on one occassion. Half ton loads are the normal max lift. It uses the identical cylinders and valves that Johnson and Kwik Way loaders used, 2 x 18 lift cylinders and 1.5 x 13 bucket cylinders.

The subframe is 2x3x1/8 tube clamped to the rear axle and welded to 1/2" plate that is bolted to the frame just behind the front axle. A cross tube to support the posts is 2x2x1/4. If I was going to build it again, I'd use 2x4x1/8 for the cross tube and make it integral with the posts. That will cause problems for mounting the whole thing and would require a lot of thought to get it right.

The MF14 is not a great deal smaller than the MF1655 and "light work" is a very flexible term for a medium or heavy GT. Build it strong. You will eventually use it to its maximum potential, and you really don't want any surprises at that point. The largest forces involved are all at the front of the tractor frame and can exceed 2 tons on certain connections.


The 54" bucket that I built for this GT uses 1/8" plate for the body and end plates, 1/2 x 4" flat stock for the cutting edge and 3/8" plate for the bucket to arm and cylinder mounts. It's patterned after the curved back 40" buckets on the above mentioned loaders. It weighs 210 lb. The 40" bucket weighs about 70 lb and I would recommend a 48" bucket for your tractor. Ideally, you want a bucket about 4 - 6" wider than the tractor.

The 2 points to consider for reinforcement on the tractor are the front spindles and axle assembly and the frame pivot mount for the axle itself. Your tie rod ends will take a beating over time. Keep at least 2 spares on hand. Do a search for spindle modifications. There are some great approaches for improvements done by the guys here.

That's what I've done. There are lots of homemade FELs out there that are just as capable as mine, and many are better looking. Do a search.

A little note: Steel is sold by the pound, 2x2x1/4 tube weighs 5.4 lb/ foot, 2x4x1/8 tube weighs less than 5 lb/ foot. The more weight in the arms, the less payload, and deeper and thin wall arms are a lot less likely to bend than shorter and thicker wall arms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the info guys! Very helpful as usual. For the difference in price, it makes sense to go bigger rather than have the thing bend on me while lifting a load!

I'm taking a welding course right now (evening intro course) and the wheels are turning on things I can build for the GT! I'm going to be swinging by the steel shops to get scraps to practice my welding and I'll get some price lists. Around here new steel is sold by the foot. Used steel is by the pound. I have no problem with used steel as long as it can be cleaned up and I can cut what I need out of it.

Thanks again for the help. And TUDOR, if you can snap a pic of how you mounted your FEL that would be awesome. I didn't have the same approach in mind... I was going to bolt up a mount under the frame (2x4) where I would bold the posts to. Then have diagonals from the posts down to bolt to the side of the frame in the front. That seems to be a pretty typical install. But I did read many posts and remember your discussion about the forces and ideally having load spread to the back axle. Ideally if I thought it wouldn't interfere with the belts or mower deck I'd weld mounts right to the frame since I've got it all tore apart right now anyways.

I figure the steel is the cheapest part of the build... so I can start there and then buy the hydraulics as money permits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just a quick follow-up.... Would this configuration be sufficient:

Uprights: 3x5 1/8"
Lift Arms: 2x4 1/8"
Bridge: 2x4 1/8"
Diagonals: 2x2 1/8"

All gussets and tabs: 1/4" plate
All pins: 3/4" dia.

I can bring this and price it out to get an idea.
 

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Lindeman crawler fan
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Just a quick follow-up.... Would this configuration be sufficient:

Uprights: 3x5 1/8"
Lift Arms: 2x4 1/8"
Bridge: 2x4 1/8"
Diagonals: 2x2 1/8"

All gussets and tabs: 1/4" plate
All pins: 3/4" dia.

I can bring this and price it out to get an idea.
I shouldn't think that you would have any problems with that combination.
 

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Around here new steel is sold by the foot. Used steel is by the pound. I have no problem with used steel as long as it can be cleaned up and I can cut what I need out of it.

Thanks again for the help. And TUDOR, if you can snap a pic of how you mounted your FEL that would be awesome. I didn't have the same approach in mind... I was going to bolt up a mount under the frame (2x4) where I would bold the posts to. Then have diagonals from the posts down to bolt to the side of the frame in the front. That seems to be a pretty typical install. But I did read many posts and remember your discussion about the forces and ideally having load spread to the back axle. Ideally if I thought it wouldn't interfere with the belts or mower deck I'd weld mounts right to the frame since I've got it all tore apart right now anyways.
All steel is sold by the pound. Different sections have different weights per foot and are priced accordingly. Most people don't buy by the full length (20') so the marketing agent quotes a price by the foot and includes a cutting charge in that price...... sometimes twice, once in the quoted price and again as a specific charge. That's a penalty charge for stocking the short lengths that are left over. They will sometimes give you a good price for those shorts, just to get them out from underfoot.

Sorry, no camera = no pics.

If you're going to keep the mower capability, check out this thread. He came up with a neat design to allow the mower to be used with the FEL subframe still installed. I didn't since my yard has too many obstacles for a 54" mower.

http://www.mytractorforum.com/showthread.php?t=175389

Just a quick follow-up.... Would this configuration be sufficient:

Uprights: 3x5 1/8"
Lift Arms: 2x4 1/8"
Bridge: 2x4 1/8"
Diagonals: 2x2 1/8"

All gussets and tabs: 1/4" plate
All pins: 3/4" dia.

I can bring this and price it out to get an idea.
One of your uprights is almost big enough to use as the reservoir. A 6 gpm pump should have a reservoir with about 260 cu. in. of oil volume plus another 10% for expansion.

I'm not sure what you mean by "bridge". If it's the anti-racking cross tube between the front half of the arms, I suggest another length of the 3x5 that you're using for the posts. If it's between the tops of the posts, I used 1x1 square tube to provide a base for the cab that I never built.

The pins for the loader also require bushings. Most manufactured loaders in this catagory used 5/8" pins and 1/2" schedule 40 pipe for bushings. For 3/4" pins you will need 3/4" schedule 80 pipe to get close to the correct inside diameter. In both cases the bushings will need a clean-up pass with the appropriate drill bit after welding them in place. Greasing those pins is an option that I chose to forego. (As a retired millwright, I expect that that comment will generate a sidebar discussion!)
 

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Just another thought also. When I build the blade pivot mount for my mini dozer I went to a tractor supply and got a steel bushing that I believe is for changing a cat I e-point to a cat II 3-point. I welded them in and used them as a bushing.
 

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I just found this thread and there is a lot of good information I may be able to use if and when I build a FEL for a tractor I have not bought yet. I'm looking at a Cub Cadet 1512 diesel which has a dozer blade, mower, and tilt cart. On Sunday I looked at a Simplicity Powermax 4040 with a loader, but it was really too big for my needs. I mostly want to use the tractor for mowing, but also to fetch firewood from the top of a hill which has a rough dirt access road that has become washed out in places. So I'd like a FEL to scoop up and spread crushed stone and gravel to repair and maintain the road and other roads/paths on my 2.5 acre property.

My first question would be if this tractor is appropriate for a small FEL. If so, I will look into options for building or adapting one. I found a Swisher Dump Bucket made for an ATV at Tractor Supply for $380, and it has a 250 lb capacity, which seems enough for my needs (and it might be better than the dump trailer for firewood). But I might also want to consider building a real FEL to the maximum capacity of the tractor.

Any suggestions? :thanku:
 

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My first question would be if this tractor is appropriate for a small FEL. If so, I will look into options for building or adapting one. I found a Swisher Dump Bucket made for an ATV at Tractor Supply for $380, and it has a 250 lb capacity, which seems enough for my needs (and it might be better than the dump trailer for firewood). But I might also want to consider building a real FEL to the maximum capacity of the tractor.

Any suggestions? :thanku:
A FEL will work on any tractor. You can even buy a pedal tractor for the kids with a FEL on it.

Check on the Cub Cadet forum. There's sure to be someone who has added a FEL to either a 1512 or a tractor of similar size who can help you through with specifics for your tractor. There are many GTs of all colours and sizes, and even a couple of LTs, with FELs. Some are manufactured and more than a few are home brewed.

Do a search for the many threads dealing with FELs and the building of such. There is a lot of info out there to help you avoid the pitfalls and to understand the forces that need to be addressed. Then, when you're ready, start your own build thread and help will be there as you progress. Take lots of pics. This crew loves pics.
 

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I didn't have the same approach in mind... I was going to bolt up a mount under the frame (2x4) where I would bold the posts to. Then have diagonals from the posts down to bolt to the side of the frame in the front. That seems to be a pretty typical install. But I did read many posts and remember your discussion about the forces and ideally having load spread to the back axle. Ideally if I thought it wouldn't interfere with the belts or mower deck I'd weld mounts right to the frame since I've got it all tore apart right now anyways.
Just noticed this tidbit upon rereading some of the posts.

Welding mounts to the frame won't be of any benefit. That frame is pretty heavy to start with and the only place a subrame needs to bolted up is at the front of the tractor, either above or just behind the front axle.

The rear of the subframe should be butt up against the rear axle and be secured in that position. The reasoning for this is that when the bucket stops when pushing into a dirt pile, you want the axle to stop at the same time. I broke my MF12H in half 3 times before I learned this lesson. Your tractor can produce a lot more torque at the rear wheels than a 12 is capable of. More than twice as much, or up to it's 1250 ft. lb. rating. That torque will put a huge strain on the rear axle mounting bolts over the years and a subframe that butts up against it will transfer the load directly to the axle, rather than through a cross bar supporting the posts and fastened to the frame, then through the frame to the rear axle mounting bolts and then to the axle.

Yes, I do know how big those bolts are. My 1655 uses the same rear end that the 14 uses. I also know how much punishment it has to absorb over 2500 hours of service.
 
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