Well, took me long enough but I finally upgraded from my winch-based power lift
to a linear actuator (below).
Lots of pics below, but if you want to jump right to the video here it is
Video is about 7 minutes long and walks through the actuator mounting including float provision, operation of the lift, and a short stint in the driveway. Sorry about the quality of the video in the first half.. used my cheap eyeglass camera at first. It gets a lot better in the 2nd half when I switched back to a regular digital camera.
Now, on to the pics..
Here she is, under the knife. Yes, that's a worklight bungied to the cab roof. Worked great.. lots of light (1000w halogen), and a bonus is it provided heat also in the chilly garage (more on that in the video).
Started by sketching out some of the geometry. This is when I was still trying to fasten the actuator to the rotating lift handle mount. That arrangement didn't work out.. plenty of places to mount the actuator to connect to the lift lever but I always needed either more or less stroke than the actuator provided. More is not possible, and less would work but would waste stroke and add undue stress on the actuator. So I got creative and ended up mounting the actuator between to movable parts of the frame.. as you'll see in the pics.
I needed to fabricate a clevis type mounting bracket for the back end of the actuator to avoid any bending forces of a one-sided mount. I started with two L-brackets like this one, taking advantage of the existing bend and then adding another bend to make an "S" shape. The brackets are 3/16" steel.
Here are the two halves of the bracket, after drilling the 1/2 holes for the pin, and "forming" them (which basically was putting them in a vice and bashing on them with a roofer's hammer). Have no press, will improvise.
Here's what it will look like when in place
Pinned to the actuator
Will use 3/8" bolts to attach to the blower frame
This is a shot of the inside of the blower frame where it attaches at the front of the tractor. I'm standing on the left side of the blower and the tractor is to the right. The shiny grey thing in the middle is the built-in heat shield in the blower frame. I had to notch it out where one of the actuator bracket bolts will go. The other actuator bracket bolt hole is at the top of the photo, slightly left of center.
This shot is from the other side of the blower, showing the same two holes (in reverse from this angle). The big rusty bar to the right is the old manual lever where I had mounted a pulley (part of the former winch lift mod) which I never removed because it's very handy to put the blower in different positions to check all my angles during actuator planning and installation
Here's the actuator rear bracket after bolting it to the blower frame
Now with actuator attached
Here's about where the actuator will lie (front end of actuator not yet attached)
Now, for the front actuator attachment, a trailer stake pocket bracket ended up being just about what I needed. I forgot to take a "before" photo before starting to bash on it in the vice, so here it is a little bit bashed, but close to the "before" appearance
Here it is after forming. Will need a repaint at some point. Paint doesn't hold up too well to roof hammer bashing.
Adding holes for more 3/8" bolts to bolt to the auger housing
Finished bracket (well, before painting)
Since the front mount will be sustaining quite a bit of force from the actuator, and since it's just mounted to the auger housing skin, I wanted to reinforce the attachment point from below. So I used leftover bits of the original L-brackets to make essentially big rectangular washers.
I gave them a slight bend to conform to the inner curvature of the auger housing
Then I had to fabricate the fixed pin for the front mount. I used 1/2 steel stock and drilled out two holes for cotter pins.
Did somebody say cotter pins? I might not have enough...
Here's the actuator front mount bracket fastened in place. The "legs" that point up are ridiculously taller than they need to be and a bit of a snag hazard, but I left them this way on purpose, anticipating I might need to reinforce this bracket later if it started to wiggle under the actuator load. It turns out it's pretty solid.
Yeah, the bolt holes didn't make a perfect rectangle. I don't have a drill press so it's hard to keep the drill bit on center and they seem to go where they want.
Here's a shot inside the auger housing showing the reinforcing bars. They're cattywampus because they followed the goofy bolt pattern.
After inserting the fixed pin
Here I'm preparing the square stock "slider" that the actuator shaft (shown above) will slide into. The square stock only has a round hole at the left end in this shot, but that hole later becomes an elongated slot to enable float (lots about that in the video). Here, the actuator shaft is shown at it's full extension, showing that it will still clear the fixed pin with a little room to spare
Same shot, a little further back so you can see the whole actuator in position
Here I've got the actuator shaft inserted in the square stock to check angles and alignment
Same shot further back
Here I am coercing a slot to exist in the square stock. This stuff is too thick for tin snips, and I didn't want to fight it trying to drill a bunch of holes in a row. So I drilled 2 holes and used an angle grinder to slot out as much as I could
Then followed up with a rotary tool with a high speed cutting bit to smooth out the slot edges. Came out fine. This will need painting too eventually.
Square slider (now slotted for float) back in place and pinned at both ends
Closeup of the slider
Here's a shot from the front end facing rearward
Another closeup of the rear mounting just for completeness
Final installation shot, actuator extended (blower up)
Final installation shot, actuator retracted (blower down)
And my ever-professional looking switch installation. Yeah, I'll get those mounted sometime too. Only using one of them right now.
So that's it. This is the culmination of many nights sitting on my shop stool staring at the side of this blower trying to figure out the geometry problem of making the most of the full stroke of the actuator while also having some float capability. And I wanted all actuator mounts to be balanced to avoid bending forces. Seems to do the job. Check out the video to see it in action.