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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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I'm a mechanic and de facto junk collector. A year or so ago I was replacing an engine in a pickup out of my little home shop and the customer dropped off a replacement engine when I really wasn't ready for it and I had nowhere to put it but in the dirt, far from the shop. I later took apart my engine hoist and temporarily rigged it (poorly) onto the 2" hitch of a pickup because i HATE moving engines across dirt/gravel. It worked, but I didn't want to do it again and figured I should spring the ~$120 for a 'truck bed crane' from Harbor Freight. A little while after I got ambitious about moving all my 'projects that havent been started yet' engines (about 7) from one place to another, again across dirt/gravel. The truck wouldn't have fit everywhere between those two places and gotten me all the way from A to B, so I started to think about alternatives and came up with something a little wacky: Why not put the truck bed crane on the front of a riding lawnmower? "If it didn't work I could still put it on the truck" I told myself in justification. Thus, pandora's box was opened. I googled 'crane mower' pics and found a TINY number of examples, none of which i liked because they all seemed like they'd either fold up with 150lbs on them, or were massive overbuilt forklift contraptions which seemed like too much effort into what I considered a borderline 'bad' idea. I figured I could do something simply enough to either work 'well enough', or quickly disprove the concept so I could bolt that same crane onto the truck it was meant for and forget all about it.

I had two Craftsman DYT4000 mowers Id gotten for free (from different people!), one of which was in use as a mower, and one for parts which had donated its engine to the other but was otherwise pretty complete. Hmm! A quick mockup showed that the truck bed crane would not fit on the front of the frame unless I either extended the frame, or installed a smaller engine. One of the reasons I had liked the idea in the first place was that the hydrostatic trans gave me a very low minimum speed. I could have it creep forward at a snails pace if desired. I figured that would definitely be desired after I'd turned the mower into a self propelled see-saw/ejection seat.馃槀 How much power would i need if 'working speed' was 0.1 mph? Even if it topped out at 2-3mph empty, i would have been happy enough. So.. I decided to install a ~150 cc ~3.5hp engine from a push mower I'd also gotten for free and had no other use for. The engine was so much smaller I was able to move the crank centerline back by several inches and fit the crane onto the existing frame.

Well, the idea turned out to be JUST feasible enough to keep luring me down the rabbit hole over and over until I'd addressed all the main failure points and sunk a silly amount of hours into making it work, putting me right back in with the guys who put 'too much effort' into their overbuilt contraptions. 馃お Shortly after i had the thing usable, I ended up buying a very compact Kubota B6100 tractor with FEL and rendering my own invention 90% obsolete, so i never ended up 'finishing' it to the level I originally intended. But, it still works, i still have it around, and when i lent that little Kubota out a week back and decided I needed to move a bunch of scrap metal from a scrap truck to a scrap trailer, I brought it out again and figured this time I would take some pics and let the internet see it in action.

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Wheel Tire Plant Motor vehicle Vehicle
Don't mind all the junk. If i didn't have junk I wouldn't build junk to move junk and this thread wouldn't exist! The heaviest thing I've picked up with it so far (actually right away when i built it) was a complete 318ci v8 engine with cast iron block/heads/manifolds. And, it ended up a little faster than it was with the original 18hp engine!

A lot of cobbling and weird little tricks went into this thing which I will detail in later posts as i dig up the old pictures off my phone.
 

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Glad it's working for you, but think I would have put it on the rear.The front end (steering and axles) of that Craftsman isn't made for much stress. Especially with the boom extended out fully. Plus probably needs some counter weight on rear to maintain traction. But that's just my 2垄 and like I said glad it works for you. And now with the FEL on the Kubota you can use that for the real heavy stuff.
MikeC
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You're correct overall. I did have to add counterweight. Here are some of my thought processes. The additional weight from crane+load would create less side effects on the rear than the front. However, if i'd put the crane onto the back I would have had to fabricate a mounting base AND still reinforce the frame, whereas on the front i only needed to reinforce the frame as my mounting surface already existed. As far as counterweight, by putting the crane on the front I was able to fairly easily add a lot of rear counterweight using things I already had (3 car tires/wheels filled with water, stock underseat 3.5 gal fuel tank filled with water, brake rotors and drums bolted on behind car wheels) whereas i would have had to actually fabricate and possibly even spend money on front weight. The front weight would have made the vehicle more difficult to steer while unloaded, rear counterweight has basically no effect on steering.

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So to fill in a little detail using the pics ive found on my phone.. When I mounted the push mower engine I was able to move it rearward on the tractor until the crankshaft nearly rubbed the edge of the circular hole left by the stock engine. To mount a belt pulley to the push mower crankshaft, I actually found an automotive v-belt idler pulley in my box of random pullies (yep) that had a bearing pressed into it which basically matched the outside diameter of the round upper portion of the stock 'blade mounting hub' of the push mower engine, so i was able to press the bearing out of the pulley and press the pulley onto the top of the blade mounting hub! Now I had a suitably small-diameter drive pulley. I actually mounted a larger drive pulley initially, but it drove the minimum travel speed of the hydro trans up (vaguely bad) and actually oversped the hydro trans input which would cause the hydro trans to act like it was 'binding' if i pushed the travel lever too far forward. On my 2nd try i ended up with about the smallest V-belt pulley i could which made the travel lever less sensitive (great for heavy, swinging loads!) and also made it basically impossible to stall the tiny engine with rapid movement of the travel lever like had been possible with the first pulley. I was also able to reuse the stock mowing deck belt as the drive belt by taking up a bit of slack swapping another pulley from my box of pullies onto the stock tensioner assembly, making it larger. I totally unhooked the clutch/brake pedal so the belt is always engaged (although i may hook it up again later, its still there flopped down in the pics i posted). Thus, when pull-starting the engine I am also spinning the belt and the hydro trans input, but while it's now slightly harder to pull than the smallest push mower engines (what it is), it doesn't feel any harder to pull than the slightly larger push mower engines! Acceptable.

The large item in the foreground there? When I ran the push mower engine with no blade mounted to it, it essentially had much less 'flywheel weight' which made it VERY sensitive to rapid load changes and also ran poorly at low throttle (single cylinder engines need proportionally larger flywheel weight than multi-cylinder engines to be able to make it to the next combustion stroke without stalling), which was annoying since i wanted to throttle this engine down for 'crawl speed' and less noise. Anyway, in searching through my automotive junk, I found that a thermostatic fan clutch from an older domestic car would center itself PERFECTLY on the 9/16" pilot/nub on the blade hub, only requiring me to drill/tap the 'alignment pins' on the blade hub so i could bolt through them to hold the fan clutch to the blade hub. This gave me a bunch of flywheel weight AND i suspect it does some minor smoothing of the engine's vibrations at low throttle since it is essentially a fluid filled damper when its internal clutch is not engaged by heat.

But, one possibly more interesting aspect of that weird cobble-job is that that water-pump-driven fan/clutch mounting system was standardized across a TON of older vehicles, which means.. you could basically take your pic of water pump v-belt pulleys from the junkyard and easily mount them, perfectly centered, to basically ANY push mower engine! You wouldn't even have to drill&tap the blade hub like I did, because a water pump pulley would allow you to just bolt down the stock crank bolt on top of the pulley, possibly with a large washer underneath if necessary. It just so happened that in this case i mounted a fan clutch to the hub instead of a water pump pulley. I may test this new aspect with a gear-driven riding mower, since I already found out that overspeeding a hydrostat's input shaft just makes it try to break itself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I found a picture of the terrible cobblejob I built off the back of a truck using my engine hoist and random bits.
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Then i built this crane mower. Then i bought a tractor. Then i bought a skid steer. But this story is about the crane mower. Anyway.. Here's another picture of this thing shortly after i assembled it, moving a mitsu 4g63 'mockup engine'.
Wheel Tire Vehicle Automotive tire Plant
One of the things you might notice different about this older pic is that it still had stock front wheels&tires. When I first tried to use this thing, I found it took almost 'full power' (hydro trans travel lever, since at this point engine was still running off stock ~3600rpm governor) to get itself moving. I also heard squeaking at times. This turned out to be that the stock front wheel bushings, when SEVERELY overloaded (i estimate the front wheels have had as much as 900 lbs on them), became almost locked to the axle and were extremely hard to rotate, eating almost ALL my engine power to move and contributing to extremely difficult steering. The first thing i did there was the typical wheel bearing install using 3/4"x1-3/8" flanged ball bearings, which helped. At that point it was much easier to roll, but still tremendously difficult to turn while loaded. As you can see, the stock turf tires, even when fully inflated were squashing down quite a bit and putting a lot of rubber on the ground. Since i would 'never' use this thing in mud/sand/etc I have no use for flotation and wanted to get some front tires that would deflect less AND, more importantly, have less 'scrub radius'.
Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive tire Motor vehicle
I decided to switch to 4.10-10 front tires because I had an assortment of both wheels and tires. By mixing and matching halves of two piece 4" wheels I was able to create a setup that tucked the wheel as close to the steering axis as possible, reducing scrub radius and thus steering effort tremendously. You can see the final setup on the left being slightly closer to the axle than the one on the right. Also visible in this pic are the red dust boots over the thrust bearings I installed on the axle. I've heard it called the 'poor mans power steering' mod, and i trimmed some universal polyurethane tie rod/ball joint boots to put there as well to help keep grease in and rain out, although it is open at the bottom. Basically an 'umbrella' type seal. After using ball bearings in the wheel, needle bearings on the spindles, and narrow tires tucked as close to the axle as possible, I now have very manageable steering when loaded, and basically effortless when not loaded. The other steering mod.. the chrome skull steering wheel spinner. 馃槀
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Total cost for the bearings a bit over $20, and i had the skull thing sitting in a drawer for some reason.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Another thing I did to make the idea work was relocate the front axle. Until I 'finished' adding rear counterweight, which i vaguely mentioned earlier, I had the back of the tractor off the ground MANY times. Moving the axle all the way to the front of the frame moved the 'fulcrum point' and gave the carried load less leverage on the rest of the tractor (i used that term loosely..). Another problem I addressed during that mod was to defeat the rolling/pivot of the front axle. I think anyone who has used a loader tractor and had the back end off the ground knows what that can do.. once the back end comes up, the tractor tends to slam over to whichever side is a little heavier. The problem with that is it can create a situation where the static forces would not cause the tractor to tip over sideways, but the momentum you picked up during the movement through the axle's travel could cause you to tip. I have never tipped this thing sideways, but I wanted to remove its ability to pick up momentum of the 'rolling over and trying to kill me' variety.
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When I moved the axle to the front of the frame, I simply measured the clearance between the top of the axle and bottom of the frame rails, and moved/redrilled the bolt pattern of the axle upwards by that much so that when I bolted it to the front of the frame, the axle was already jammed up to the frame rail on both sides. This may create issues with a mowing deck or a tractor with a light rear end, but for me, with all the rear end weight I've added it simply picks up a front wheel when i cross over uneven surfaces rather than lifting a back wheel. I don't cross anything that could be remotely dangerous while hanging hundreds of lbs out the front anyway. I had to extend the steering shaft when i moved the axle. I found that a bottle jack handle i had sitting around (no telling what jack it came with) was a close fit over the outside diameter of the stock steering rod, so I used it as a sleeve and welded it on after adding the ~4 inches or so of length that i had moved the axle forward.
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Also visible in the pics are the angle iron frame reinforcements. My first problem was lifting the back of the tractor off the ground, but once i had enough counterweight the problem changed to bending the frame instead! When i first bent the frame, I did a comical thing.. since the crane can pivot (when the locking pin is out), i turned it around backwards, hooked the crane to the back of the tractor, and cranked on it until it bent the frame straight again. 馃お When i first put the angle iron in place I zipped it on with some self-tapping screws, but i did fully seam-weld it to the frame on the bottom. I then ran out of mig wire and have never gotten around to welding the top after i got more wire. I have to pull the body pan back off to do it, i'll get around to it someday.. The angle iron extends almost to the transaxle mounting area, and i think they are 36" pieces. There are also a few lateral supports underneath running from side to side to stop the frame 'spreading'. I made those out of those little flat bars you use at the end of a section of chain link fence. Stringers? I dont know the term for those. The self-tapping screws still visible basically do nothing, but i didn't bother to remove them after the welding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I wanted to quiet the tractor down as much as i easily could. I really only needed the engine when moving, and the only reason i wouldn't turn it off every time i stopped moving is because i didn't want to pull start it again, so i also wanted to add a throttle and actually idle the engine down.

As far as muffling, i had a theory that on this tiny ~150cc engine, an air conditioning accumulator might make a pretty good muffler, as long as it didn't melt (they are aluminum). I sometimes part out/scrap cars and save keep a few accumulators around in case i want to turn one into an oil catch can or surge tank of some sort. My initial test of this idea was simply to bolt the ac hose down to the stock exhaust port of the engine with washers under the exhaust bolt heads sort of loosely clamping the ill-fitting end of that hose onto the exhaust port. It TOTALLY WORKED. I was shocked how quiet it was with no internal mods to the accumulator. As i stood in awe of this unexpectedly good idea, the exhaust did melt the rubber hose in half. :ROFLMAO: but I wasn't planning to have rubber hose in the exhaust anyway and was just using it to try the idea.
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To actually install the new 'muffler' I took a piece of NPT threaded black pipe that fit the engine (I think 3/4 npt), put it in my press and bent it in the middle a bit, drilled and tapped one of the two ports on top of the accumulator with that npt thread, and threaded it onto the motor. The stock bracket that used to hold this accumulator to the firewall of a truck now bolts it down to the frame. The remnants of one of the metal discharge lines just turn the exhaust 90 degrees to discharge out the side of the mower.
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It is very quiet at idle and low rpms! When you rev the engine up the vibration and rattling coming off the entire mower drowns out the exhaust and it becomes loud again, but it's still not the exhaust making it loud in that case. I did wonder if this exhaust was restrictive to the engine, but from what i can tell it's not. I say that because I can still hit 'full speed', and actually more than that since after i added an engine throttle I can rev the engine past the stock governor rpm. Ive heard it takes roughly 2hp to push a riding mower to top speed of ~5mph. Based on the fact I can get this mower up to 7-8mph I assume it's making at least 2+ hp, maybe 3. I think a stock, older 150cc push mower engine is rated at 3.5hp or so, so anecdotally I believe i can say im making most or all of that, or at least plenty to do what i'm doing! The outlet pipe is decently smaller than the stock exhaust port on the engine, but this giant can has a ton of surface area and aluminum transfers heat very quickly, so i think the exhaust is losing so much heat before it leaves the can that it shrinks down enough that the small outlet is not a significant restriction. I remember seeing an infographic from GM that said on a Corvette at full throttle the exhaust gas cooled off by 600f between the cylinder head and the tailpipe. I've given up trying to calculate the volume change of a gas with temperature change as it seems over my head, but i thought that was an interesting tidbit and vaguely relevant to my theory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
When i first started building this thing and wasn't sure it was a good idea (obviously i went off the deep end at some point), i didn't want to spend a penny over what the crane cost. I think i broke out the pawls on the original pull starter almost right away. I decided to just use a drill and socket to start the engine for a while there. That's a tricky operation and when i broke the chuck off the end of a decent drill (trying to avoid buying a <$20 recoil starter, remember...) I decided to double down on being penny wise and pound foolish and modify an even larger drill to work for the purpose. Someone had given me a harbor freight corded 1/2" impact, and as an ASE master tech with vastly superior 1/2" impacts both air and cordless, i had no real use for it and decided to use it for this. Problem being, impacts are not good at doing a drills job. But, they ARE basically drills hooked to the back of the impacting hammer mechanism. If you defeat the impacting mechanism, they go back to being fairly powerful drills.

I took the harbor freight corded impact apart and found that by cutting a piece of 2" pvc pipe and putting it behind the impact mechanism and preventing it from moving backwards, it stopped impacting and just became an extremely powerful drill that i was NOT going to snap the drive end off of. 馃槀
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I later decided the whole crane mower thing was a BRILLIANT idea and splurged on the $12 recoil starter...but i still use the drill here and there when im trying to revive some small engine or do a compression check the lazy way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I added quite a bit of counterweight to the rear of the mower, mostly in the form of car parts and water. The mower has a 3/4" rear axle, and I wanted to use some 4x100mm car rims i happened to have with matching-size 185/60/14 tires because I was pretty sure that was darn near exactly the biggest size I could fit under the fender pan without doing any additional mods to make clearance. Stock rear tires are 20" diameter, these are ~23". Stock wheel/tire assembly weighs about 15 lbs, these weigh ~35 (estimating both). I figured I could use the 4bolt rims as 4x4" hub adapters are fairly readily available and 4x4" is very close to 4x100, although all the cheapest ones I could find were sized for 1" axles. 3/4" to 1" adapter sleeves with adapter keys are available cheaply, so I used those to make the 4x4" hubs work. These 4 units (2 hubs, 2 adapter sleeves) were the most money I spent on the project aside from the $120 crane, at a total of a bit over $80.

4" is not exactly 100mm, and the 4x100 rims would not slide over the 4x4" lug studs. After starting down some way more labor intensive ideas, I realized that i needed to turn my 'car' brain off and recognize that this thing would have a single digit top speed and the wheels just needed to.. go on there. So I just threaded on the lug nuts a bit and tapped on them to bend the ends of all the (pressed) lug studs in towards the center a slight bit. This doesn't bend the studs, just slightly unseats one side of the pressed stud from the hub flange. Slid the wheels right on and bolted them down. I would never do this on a car, but.. it's not a car!!

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The rear tire is mounted on a spare tire carrier off the tailgate of a Jeep Liberty I parted out. Originally the tire I mounted to it was too tall and would drag the ground when driving up an incline, unloading the rear tires and causing tire spin. For the next tire I chose a wider and shorter one to prevent the dragging, along with a narrower rim (i have access to tire machines through my job as an automotive instructor at a community college). The idea behind the narrower rim was to give the tire a lot of 'bulge' as a cushion if i ever used the mower to push a broken car. I push a lot of non-running cars around here since i tend to agree to fix the things other people have given up on.:rolleyes:

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All 3 tires are filled with water. A 'tire fill adapter' is $10 on Amazon. Here in South Texas there is almost no concern of water freezing, and the likelihood of a wheel rusting through during the expected lifetime of this contraption is zero. I estimate there is at least 100 lbs of water between the 3 tires, plus the nearly 100 lbs of wheel/tire weight gain compared to the stock rear 8" turf tires, and a few lbs for the spare tire bracket and wheel hubs.

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Additionally, there are scrap 4x100 brake rotors bolted down behind the rear wheels (8lb each?) and one massive 8 lug brake drum from a 1 ton truck pinched down between the rear tire and the spare tire bracket. The hole in the middle of the brake drum is so large it fits nicely OVER the 5x114.3 bolt pattern on the tire carrier bracket. This mower has a 3.5gal fuel tank under the rear seat. The push mower engine has an integral fuel tank, leaving this one for ballast. I originally intended to fill the tank with cement as it looked like i could fit an entire 80lb bag worth in there, but i did everything else first and then found I didn't need any additional weight with anything i've picked up so far, so it's currently just filled with another ~30lbs of water.

I estimate I added about 250lbs of rear counterweight. Before it was fully counterweighted i would perform a silly dance of jacking up the crane until the back of the tractor was a foot in the air, sitting on the tractor to push the back down and pick up the load, and drive it to a new spot and set it down by carefully dismounting from the tractor. After adding the counterweight I have never had the back of the tractor come up. The heaviest thing i've lifted so far was an all-cast-iron mopar small block as seen above. The internet says that one with the cast intake and water pump on it was over 400 lbs, even close to 500 although i find that hard to believe.

So other than the hub adapters and axle sleeve adapters, everything i added in counterweight was car junk I had sitting around, and water. A bit over $200 in actual purchased parts including the crane.
 

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I absolutely love the ingenuity here, using what you had to make your life easier. You put a lot of time and effort into putting this thing together, which is why you purchased a loader; it's a classic tale.
 

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I added quite a bit of counterweight to the rear of the mower, mostly in the form of car parts and water. The mower has a 3/4" rear axle, and I wanted to use some 4x100mm car rims i happened to have with matching-size 185/60/14 tires because I was pretty sure that was darn near exactly the biggest size I could fit under the fender pan without doing any additional mods to make clearance. Stock rear tires are 20" diameter, these are ~23". Stock wheel/tire assembly weighs about 15 lbs, these weigh ~35 (estimating both). I figured I could use the 4bolt rims as 4x4" hub adapters are fairly readily available and 4x4" is very close to 4x100, although all the cheapest ones I could find were sized for 1" axles. 3/4" to 1" adapter sleeves with adapter keys are available cheaply, so I used those to make the 4x4" hubs work. These 4 units (2 hubs, 2 adapter sleeves) were the most money I spent on the project aside from the $120 crane, at a total of a bit over $80.

4" is not exactly 100mm, and the 4x100 rims would not slide over the 4x4" lug studs. After starting down some way more labor intensive ideas, I realized that i needed to turn my 'car' brain off and recognize that this thing would have a single digit top speed and the wheels just needed to.. go on there. So I just threaded on the lug nuts a bit and tapped on them to bend the ends of all the (pressed) lug studs in towards the center a slight bit. This doesn't bend the studs, just slightly unseats one side of the pressed stud from the hub flange. Slid the wheels right on and bolted them down. I would never do this on a car, but.. it's not a car!!

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The rear tire is mounted on a spare tire carrier off the tailgate of a Jeep Liberty I parted out. Originally the tire I mounted to it was too tall and would drag the ground when driving up an incline, unloading the rear tires and causing tire spin. For the next tire I chose a wider and shorter one to prevent the dragging, along with a narrower rim (i have access to tire machines through my job as an automotive instructor at a community college). The idea behind the narrower rim was to give the tire a lot of 'bulge' as a cushion if i ever used the mower to push a broken car. I push a lot of non-running cars around here since i tend to agree to fix the things other people have given up on.:rolleyes:

View attachment 2522731
All 3 tires are filled with water. A 'tire fill adapter' is $10 on Amazon. Here in South Texas there is almost no concern of water freezing, and the likelihood of a wheel rusting through during the expected lifetime of this contraption is zero. I estimate there is at least 100 lbs of water between the 3 tires, plus the nearly 100 lbs of wheel/tire weight gain compared to the stock rear 8" turf tires, and a few lbs for the spare tire bracket and wheel hubs.

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Additionally, there are scrap 4x100 brake rotors bolted down behind the rear wheels (8lb each?) and one massive 8 lug brake drum from a 1 ton truck pinched down between the rear tire and the spare tire bracket. The hole in the middle of the brake drum is so large it fits nicely OVER the 5x114.3 bolt pattern on the tire carrier bracket. This mower has a 3.5gal fuel tank under the rear seat. The push mower engine has an integral fuel tank, leaving this one for ballast. I originally intended to fill the tank with cement as it looked like i could fit an entire 80lb bag worth in there, but i did everything else first and then found I didn't need any additional weight with anything i've picked up so far, so it's currently just filled with another ~30lbs of water.

I estimate I added about 250lbs of rear counterweight. Before it was fully counterweighted i would perform a silly dance of jacking up the crane until the back of the tractor was a foot in the air, sitting on the tractor to push the back down and pick up the load, and drive it to a new spot and set it down by carefully dismounting from the tractor. After adding the counterweight I have never had the back of the tractor come up. The heaviest thing i've lifted so far was an all-cast-iron mopar small block as seen above. The internet says that one with the cast intake and water pump on it was over 400 lbs, even close to 500 although i find that hard to believe.

So other than the hub adapters and axle sleeve adapters, everything i added in counterweight was car junk I had sitting around, and water. A bit over $200 in actual purchased parts including the crane.
Looks like it was worth doing, especially for $200! My dad just put a crane like that on our scrap trailer, except it uses a winch to lift it. Very handy contraption when your moving engines etc..
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I absolutely love the ingenuity here, using what you had to make your life easier. You put a lot of time and effort into putting this thing together, which is why you purchased a loader; it's a classic tale.
Thank you! Ive done a whole lot of wacky car related cobbling and modification such as building and racing a turbocharged minivan etc, but a lot of what i've done on cars is just mixing and matching components that already existed into new combinations, a grown up version of the Legos stuff i built as a kid. I got to a point of wanting to build 'the blocks' and lean a little more towards actually fabricating things. I'm trying to grow my skills in a new direction without the money-making career aspect of all the car stuff i learned, and this project was sort of a low-risk move in that direction that was fun and made me want to do more. I plan to work on my welding skills next so that I can build buckets and other attachments for the tractor and antique skid steer i bought. Up til now, all the welding I've ever done was thin-gauge mig welding of car-related stuff like minor bracketry and piping with a 120v machine.

Looks like it was worth doing, especially for $200! My dad just put a crane like that on our scrap trailer, except it uses a winch to lift it. Very handy contraption when your moving engines etc..
I've always had a fondness for doing things cheaply, but what really helps make it possible is that everything ive learned about how cars work as a longtime auto technician makes me able to see unintended uses for things. Hopefully showing some of this inspires somebody to find a new use for something sitting in a junk pile instead of buying something. Anyone that likes this crane mower should look at your front end loader build. It's very inventive and way more impressive in many respects. (y)(y)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Snapped some new pics as i walked by it today.

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The spare tire carrier off a Jeep Liberty is spaced off the rear frame by 2x4" sections of purlin left over from the build of my small 500sqft shop. The long bolts through top and bottom are cylinder head bolts from some car engine. The top section is in tension so no need to reinforce the cheesy purlin, although maybe id cave it in if i pushed backwards on something with the tire hard enough. The bottom section is being compressed by the weight of the filled tire/wheel on the back, so i slid a regular wood 2x4 up the middle to keep it from collapsing. You can see the edge of the very heavy brake drum I have pinched between the tire and carrier.

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A picture showing several things: 1. The installed fan clutch i used as a form of flywheel. 2. The jack handle I welded into the steering rod to extend it when i moved the axle forward (minor rubbing visible, but cant be felt through the steering so i didn't touch it). 3. The crank centerline moved all the way back to the rear edge of the original mounting hole, and some angle iron I ran across the front of the hole to support the front engine mounting bolts that would be hanging in empty air. 4. I bent up and reused the original belt guard to fit the new pulley diameter and location.

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I cut away enough of the dash panel to allow the crane to be swung back and 'stowed'. This let me put the hood back on and makes maneuverability totally normal when not using it to lift something. It's tight but it will lift and swing out of that hole once the hoods is raised. I stick the long pins used to set the swing angle and boom length of the crane into some existing empty holes in the front frame next to the crane when im not using them.

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I repurposed the electric pto button for the cutting deck to be the kill switch for the engine. In the original push mower design, when you release the squeeze-handle to kill the engine, a strong spring pulls a small brake pad onto the outside surface of the flywheel (helps stop the engine faster in case of emergency), and causes a small wire leading to the primary circuit of the ignition coil to ground out. I was apparently too lazy to fully remove that spring, but i unhooked the end of it, zip-tied the brake pad back so it does nothing, and hooked that small wire through a small-gauge pair of speaker wire up to the PTO button, and back down to the ring terminal which is bolted to the cooling shroud. I used a multimeter to figure out which two of the 6 terminals on that switch would be open-circuit when the button is 'up' and closed circuit when the button is pushed down. I rubbed the mower-blade related images right off the button with a scotch brite pad so it now looks like a giant red 'panic button' and when you slap it downwards the engine shuts off. I could have used the original ignition switch for this purpose, but i'd already stolen it for another mower. This is now the only wire left on the mower. The silver pipe sticking through the empty hole where the original ignition switch was is just the jack handle for the crane.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
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After I wired up the mower deck switch as the engine kill switch, i didn't touch the mower for a few months and when i went back to start it I wasted a lot of arm pulling before i remembered I now had to pull up on that button to get the engine to start, so i wrote myself a reminder in paint marker. There is an invisible 'dumbass' written there at the end. I cant see it, but i can hear it whenever i read the question. 馃槀

The original handle on the pull starter was a little small and uncomfortable to pull, so i replaced it with a larger one. I had pulled the rope knot through the center of a pull handle at one point, so i threaded an eye bolt up the handle and put a nut on the other end and tied the rope to that.

I also routed the rope through a small tie-down loop i screwed onto the frame so that the handle would not retract all the way to the engine. I did that because it's a little uncomfortable on my back to start 'the pull' from that low height, plus I can reach and restart this thing while still sitting in the seat if i accidentally stall the engine throttling down too low while the engine is cold. It's kinda hard to do that pull. If i'm in a good mood I probably cant pull hard enough with one arm to start the engine from the seat.. but it works if im already mad at myself for stalling the engine! It also limits the upwards angle of the pull because at one point i pulled upwards hard enough to rip the recoil starter off the top of the engine and had to rivet it back down. In case you were wondering, i certainly do not have anger issues or get frustrated easily when i cant start an engine because i forgot i put a kill switch on it. I think the recoil starter is finally dumb-proof. :rolleyes:

You can also see the cone style air filter. I think i added that because it looked cool and I already had it, but it turned out i needed the space it freed up to build the throttle linkage anyway. It kept vibrating loose, so i cut a piece of flashing with tin snips and strapped the top of the filter across to the engine shroud. The bolt head on top of the filter is a long bolt actually holding the filter down onto the carburetor just like the stock filter lid is bolted, but the other end of the strap is just held down with a push-in trim clip into a hole i drilled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Time to try and explain the throttle linkage. The push mower engine had no manual throttle, and the the opening of the carb was controlled solely by the governor. I wanted to add a throttle so that I could slow the engine down. The stock throttle linkage and cable on the riding mower was not able to adapt directly in line with the carb on the push mower engine because it was coming in from the 'driver side' of the engine and did not have the extra length to make the huge long-radius loop it would need to enter in from the 'passenger side' where the carb is. If i DID make it hook up from the driver's side, it would have moved the wrong direction (up on throttle control lever would slow engine, down would rev up).

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I decided to use a large washer mounted on some tiny thrust bearings to 'invert' the cable's movement, and turn it 180 degrees. I had some of the bearings left over from working on the clutch of an electric winch in my shop. I removed the cooling shroud and drilled that area for a bolt for the washer to pivot on. So, throttle cable faces passenger side of tractor, rotates a washer, and a new linkage hooks from the bottom of the washer heading back towards the driver side. Input moves right, output moves left, or vice versa. Similar to what a rocker arm does when transferring motion from a pushrod to a valve.

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I didn't see a way to upload a video to the gallery or into the post (im pretty new here, maybe there's a way) so i screenshotted some pics from a short video i had of the throttle showing IDLE and WOT positions.

The movement of the throttle cable on the tractor is far longer than the movement of the stock throttle arm on the push mower carburetor. Since i had to drill holes in the large washer for my input and output to hook to, I had the option to drill them at different distances from the center to either shrink or grow the 'movement ratio' of input to output so that full movement of the throttle handle would equal full movement of the carb arm. But i didn't end up needing to do that because... i decided to make the lower link from the washer to the carb have a variable length instead. Whaaaa? Well, I wanted to retain the governor function because it is self-correcting for load changes. I just wanted to be able to pick a 'desired' rpm setting but still let the governor open or close the throttle in response to load to help the engine maintain that rpm.
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What I did for the lower link was use a spring from some car carburetor linkage, probably a throttle return spring, because 'at rest' the coils of the spring are fully collapsed and touching. The spring is in 'coil bind'. A spring like this will still stretch in tension, but it wont squeeze any shorter in compression and could actually act as a push rod in that case. To prevent the spring from bowing out to one side when pushed on, I slid a small piece of plastic tubing over the spring as a 'sleeve' to keep it straight.
I don't have any pics of the carb throttle arm showing this clearly, so i drew the linkage in MS Paint.:geek:
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So, the way this works is that if i set my throttle lever all the way down, the spring collapses solid and FORCES the throttle arm all the way closed to the throttle stop (idle). Unlike a riding mower carb where the throttle stop is often an adjustable bolt, this carb just had a nub of plastic which i actually shaved down to be able to achieve a lower/quieter idle rpm. When I have the throttle lever somewhere in the middle, the spring I installed and the 'springiness' of the governor mechanism have a little spring fight, and the average of whatever those two forces are becomes the 'desired' rpm setting. The governor can still open/close the throttle to compensate for load change, but once the spring on my side collapses solid that sets a 'throttle limit' and the throttle cannot open beyond that.. When I push my throttle lever up high enough i can manually rev the engine past the stock governor rpm because the stock governor spring is 'weakened' by my spring pulling on it. I have not put a tach on it but by sound I would say I have revved it to 5000 rpm or so. I'm sure the valves would start floating at some point before i got to the rpm that throws the connecting rod out the side of the engine, but I haven't tested that!!

The high rpm is totally unnecessary to crawl around with hundreds of lbs swinging off the front, but it's nice to have. Between going from 20" to 23" rear tires and being able to rev higher than the stock engine, i can cruise this thing around at like 8-9 mph. I use it on a 700ft long piece of property where everything is either near the front or near the back, and the long slow trundle in between at 5mph on my regular riding mower is pretty dang boring. After this project I repowered a Case 446 and it also goes like 9 mph which is borderline exciting when the ground isn't smooth, and my Kubota B6100 does around 11mph in 3Hi which seems a little scary in certain places on the property. Im a car guy first and foremost so I kind of like everything to at least be able to go fast enough to get into trouble even if i don't use it that way. 馃お I've never moved an engine more than ~50ft with this, and that is always at walking speed or less. I would definitely not crank it up to full speed with something hanging off the front. I just think that throttle design or the concept of how it works might be real useful for someone else out there wanting to keep the governor as a load-sensing device but still be able to control engine rpm on a push mower engine. This IS the way that the stock throttle on a riding mower engine works, but of course the stock one will not let you over-ride the governor rpm until you mess with it. Where's the fun in that?
 

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Holy crap @Vigo, this is amazing work! I admire the heck out of your ingenuity, creativity, and also cost-effectiveness, with solving the problem! And you added a really cool capability to the tractor. And this machine started out as a lawn tractor? Wow, that is great. And it's impressive to see what the front end has withstood, albeit with a bunch of help and modifications.

Being able to move stuff around like that is really cool. I haven't done anything this interesting, but my 110V MIG welder is one of my favorite tools, for what it's let me do. And I've enjoyed discovering new things I can do, using the little modifications I've made to my tractor.

Great work, and thanks for sharing the details! It's a great way to learn from others, and to get ideas for things we could maybe do to our equipment.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you! I teach automotive for a living, so whenever i want to share something i have a habit now of fully explaining how it works as well! I feel self-conscious posting such huge 'walls of text' but I hope it gives enough context/explanation that someone else could actually use some of it if they wanted to. Some don't need the text, some won't have the patience for it.. but hopefully some others will have some kind of a-ha moment and do something that makes them feel good solving some problem or making something that seemed expensive, actually doable with what they've already got! I learned half the stuff I know off internet forums, after all.. Thanks for the kind words!
 

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I very much appreciate people providing details. I have a tendency towards the same thing. People can always scroll past details that they don't need. But when there's info that they DO need, it's really valuable to have it available. And it may be for someone finding this thread 5 years from now. I'm glad your teaching tendencies are shining through :)

And you've given me food for thought about how I could reinforce my frame a bit, proactively. Welding material to the side of my frame rails would be ideal, but I dislike the idea of permanent modifications. But I could bolt some pieces of steel to the frame rails, and at least help add some support, even if it wasn't as good as welding it on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
There were actually enough square holes in the stock frame rails that I initially thought about just using a whole bunch of carriage bolts. But it seemed to me that at a certain point it's actually easier to weld two flat pieces together than it is to drill 10-20 holes placed correctly! But at least on this Craftsman/AYP it could totally be done with bolts and all the frame-side holes already exist.

I actually had a minor crisis when i realized i had to go BUY two pieces of angle iron for this thing. I've recycled many tons of metal, but never tended to fabricate much of anything so i would just keep ends and pieces until things piled up, and then scrap it all. Now since i want to improve my fabrication skills im keeping everything that looks usable, and ive got PLENTY of metal sitting around again...馃槄
 
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