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Discussion Starter #1
Why a 27038, the smallest of the Craftsman Pro series? ‘Cuz it’s what I have, and because she who must be obeyed wouldn’t let me buy a used tractor, and wouldn’t let me spend over $2k. So, I chose this model since it has manual PTO, a good cutting deck, and a 20hp V-twin Kohler. And, I discovered there are several accessories available that fit.

Our yard is approx. 1 acre, and we have already dug up several bushes, some trees, and cut others down. Will soon be putting down plenty of mulch and will build a small raised garden. I can do the manual work, but shoveling aggravates my golfer’s elbow (no, I don’t golf). So, I’m now looking at front bucket and front-end loader ideas.

I have read several front-end loader threads here on MyTractorforum. But when I read where a Craftsman Pro frame bent from a front loader, I knew modifications were in order. http://www.mytractorforum.com/2813737-post3.html I also read the New F.E.L. Build thread (among others) with interest. http://www.mytractorforum.com/14-craftsman-sears-forum/122095-new-f-e-l-build-7.html Thanks ridgestalker for all the pictures! Specifically posts 93 and 97.

My general plan is to use an Agri-Fab front scoop, Product Overstocks but modify the mounting (eventually) so that it will go more than 6-7” in height, and use either electric actuators or hydraulics instead of the Armstrong method. The bucket is rated for 200#, but knowing me I should plan for 300# bucket loads, and lifted to a height of 36” - 42” above the ground, enough to reach a lowered pickup tailgate or my trash can. I initially planned to use the tractor’s mower deck lift setup, but I don’t see it lifting higher than the scoop controls. As nice a unit as it is, I don’t care to get a Johnny Bucket JR, because it doesn’t lift high enough for me.

I was initially contemplating adding some 1/8” x 2” C-channel on the inside of the frame rails, but after all the reading and research I’ve done, and how any machine with a front end loader needs stability and needs ballast in the back, I’m thinking I need at least the ¼” x2.5” flat steel on the inside rails. I measured the frame, and it pinches to 2.5 inches near the end of the mower deck, otherwise I’d look to use 3” steel. Extending from stem to stern, or five feet in length. And add plates across the front and back. I’ve even thought about extending the rails past the back of the tractor a foot or so to provide a place for the ballast weight, so I wouldn’t have to carry quite so much. ‘Cuz Torque = force x distance.
On second thought, I could run these steel pieces on the outside and use 3” steel all the way around. Would have to bend around to clear the muffler at the front.
Or, could run 2” x 3/8” inside the frame rails.

To compare square areas: 1/4” x 2.5” = 0.625 sq in
3/8” x 2” = 0.75 sq in
1/4" x 3" = 0.75 sq in

I also was looking to bolt/weld a doubler over the notch I’ll have to cut in the reinforcement to clear the front axle. Mainly because I like to worry, and don’t want to question that part everytime I use a bucket. I have NOT dug into beefing up the front end YET, but I did see some pictures on the PF Engineering site. Maybe once I get the frame done. *I can’t keep the tractor down too long at one time; I don’t want to push mow the yard!

I also realize the Tuff Torq K46 isn’t necessarily the premier tranny for what I’m planning to do. I plan to change it to synthetic fluid once I get 10 hours or so on it, and I am going to fabricate a fan duct to guide the airflow around the tranny to help cooling. And add a little temperature gauge to give me a temp readout. If I remember, I’ll drill and tap the drain ports in the bottom. That said, I’d also like to remove the pressure reducer that cuts reverse speeds…

Looking for advice from you folks who have gone down this road before. Thanks.
 

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You are going to fabricate a fan duct,with a fan ? Ive read, on MTF about using twelve volt fans for better cooling of hydro.Way more blade speed, then the belt driven fan.I think John deer had a hydro cooled with an electric fan.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
slow wrench, I was looking to get cooler air to the fan, then guide the airflow across more of the tranny surface area and out...but a 12volt fan does sound like a good option. I've also considered doubling the fan, replacing it with a 10" diameter unit, but haven't nailed down a solution yet.

Frame reinforcement: I've mulled over a couple of options, since I want to add a front end loader to this machine. I also know I am really hard on equipment, and figure I better beef this thing up before I damage it. From all the reading I've done, 1/8" bars aren't going to help enough. I'm looking at duplicating (partly) what ridgestalker did with 3" x 1/4" steel the length of the frame, on both sides. Bolted together. Or, use a 3" x 1/4" C channel on one side, and flat steel on the other.
Also, a friend who used to weld up stock car tube frames told me I should weld in a set of tubes inside the frame to make an X, for rigidity, and that X should be as long as I can possibly fit in the tractor. Still need to crawl under and measure the frame rails, and measure how much distance there is for such a piece. I also need to decide, for the inside reinforcement, do I want to cut/trim the reinforcement piece where the frame pinched down to about 2.5", or slice through the bottom part of the rail and not cut the reinforcement piece.
We parked the vehicles in the garage and had to duck in the tornado shelter tonight, so maybe I can get a couple pictures of the frame tomorrow...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A steel material shopping note. The local steel distributor is asking $42 for a 20foot piece of 1/4"x3" steel, and $64 for a 20foot piece of 1/4"x3" C-channel. But there's no shipping cost. All the online places I looked at wanted to charge more for shipping than I expected to buy in steel. And the local box stores don't sell a piece of 5ft 1/4"x3" material. And I don't care to weld one together from two smaller pieces. For a higher price, I might add.
Here are a couple of pictures of my tractor's frame. Didn't realize it was so skinny for most of the distance. So, this isn't going to be as easy an undertaking as I thought it would. No matter. I added the tape measure to help me figure out what to do to reinforce it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Got the steel yesterday! Another steel shopping note. The place I went to had a scrap or "mis-cut" pile of leftover cut pieces, in various thicknesses, widths and lengths. I was able to get a couple pieces from that for 58 cents/pound. Pretty good deal. They also cut the material for you for $1/cut! So, I asked them to cut 2 pieces to 68", and then leave the remainder. Saw a piece of with 2"x3" or 2"x4" tube I'd like to get, once I figure out some FEL details.

Which reminds me, I think I will weld the 1/4" to the outside of the frame rails, once I get all the cuts and holes done. I could bolt it, but I do not plan to remove it, so...it will soon be time to practice melting steel together. Decided against running the steel on the inside, because it would take too much effort to trim it to fit inside the rails. True, I will have to modify the bars that keep the mower deck belt from running off the pulley, and may need to modify the mower deck attach points (or just get 1/4" longer pins) but after viewing the underside with the mower deck all the way up, I can just run the 3" rail all the way down, without trimming it where the frame pinches. I almost never hike the mower deck that high anyway. 68" lets me run 6"-8" past the back of the mower, so I can weld a back plate and hitch to it. And, I can drill some holes to mount a tray, weights, or part of the 3-point.

Not sure, but the front scoop I got appears to be a return. Half the items are assembled, there are lots of paint scratches, and a couple hardware bits are MIA. There were no instructions in the box, but I emailed the company and they sent me a set. However, the file is password protected so I can't print it. But, I took a screen snipping tool (Grab in a Mac) and was able to print a few pages so I didn't have to drag the computer out to the garage. FYI in case anyone else has this issue.

Not digging the octopus arms look of the handles. I'm definitely going to look at some sort of alternative to either use the mower deck handle or a foot pedal of some sort.

And, after unboxing the scoop, I can see it and the brackets are all 3/16" steel. Looks pretty sturdy, so that's good ('cuz I am hard on stuff). Since the tractor frame is 1/8" or 11 gauge, no wonder some have bent or cracked frame rails.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Is that pic of the scoop how it actually looked when you opened the box?
Yes it is. I cut the tape, pulled the flaps open and snapped that picture. Took me 2 weeks to finally get time to pull it out and really look things over. Was a little disappointed to see the conditions, but, I'll throw some gloss black on the bad spots and I already bought a couple extra 1/4" and 5/16" bolts and nuts for the scoop install, and a couple more 3/8" bolts to secure it to the tractor once I get the reinforcements in place. I emailed the company late yesterday and included some of the pictures for them to review. The rep said these scoops are all 2014 stock, have never been sold. And they never ship returns. And, it's $400 off the list price. :) She did offer to send me a paint pen, but as picky as I am, I'd rather spray it and lightly sand the edges if I really feel like it.

Which reminds me. The tractor frame measures 13" outside to outside. The scoop mount bracket measures 13.5" inside to inside, so there is just the right space for the 1/4" steel on each side of the frame.
 

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Discussion Starter #12

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Discussion Starter #13
Made a little progress on prepping a frame rail yesterday. Had to mow today...good news is, the mower has about 8 hours on it now, so I can probably do the first oil change anytime.
Discovered the left side has a metal plate fastened near the hood hinge, and it's sole purpose is to keep the exhaust pipe from melting the plastic hood hinge.
Still need to figure out what to do with the pivot pins spot welded in place to hold up the mower deck arms. If I can reach them, maybe I'll drill and tap a hole, then run a bolt with a large flat washer on it to hold them still. Or maybe cut them flush, and weld the pin onto the reinforcement strips. or maybe tack weld in longer pins.
And, I noticed the 1/8" plate the engine sits on wraps over the sides about an inch, so I think I'll use a piece of 1/8" below those spots just to keep things even. I really don't care to pull the engine out. If I were to do that, I might as well buy 3" C-channel and redo the whole thing, as I see it.

Also got the K66 fan in the mail (8.5" diameter vs stock 7"), a 7" electric fan, and 10each 1"x1" finned aluminum heat sinks. These and some copper pipe brackets are all ingredients to help cool the transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I just figured this out tonight about the Agri-Fab front scoop. For Craftsman Pro series models ( i.e. starting with 247), you need (Sears model number 24947) or Craftsman 68629, the pair of front scoop mount brackets. $32 right now; I had some points so I knocked that in half. I've been staring at the scoop mount and instructions for some time now, trying to figure out what was missing! I think I will cut that length off of the 1/4" I have, and weld it together.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you. No, the wife and I decided we want to put a gazebo in the backyard. :) Problem is, the area we have with paver stones isn't big enough, so we rented a sod cutter to cut the grass out, then bought some paver base to spread in there, and that's about all the farther we got with the heat. Did finally find spots in the yard for all the sod tonight. Good news is Tractor Supply had 750# capacity yard carts $20 off this weekend, so we picked one up and I'm putting it through some paces now.
I did solidify how I want to proceed with drilling to match the rest of the frame rails this morning, and I am thinking about drilling a 3rd rail, so I can make more if someone else decides they are interested. My Craftsman scoop brackets won't arrive until June 4th, so once I get those I can finalize the bracing.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Got the front scoop brackets in the mail, ahead of schedule. Interesting, as they are not flat. They have some material bent to brace them with the tractor's frame. I put a yard stick in the picture just for reference.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I made a little headway today. Got the notches cut for the front axle, and for the hydro pedal on the right side.
The best tool I have found for cutting 1/4" (of those I own) is the cut-off wheel on my angle grinder. My hacksaw works better than the jigsaw with a metal blade, so that's out. Sorry, no high dollar plasma cutters or torches or other nifty tools here.

Gazebo is probably going to take priority after today...

Next challenge will be figuring out what to do with the mower deck pins that are spot welded onto the inside of the frame rails. I can't decide if I want to knock them out and replace them, or drill and tap a hole into the pin from the outside, and run a bolt in to secure the mower deck that way.
 

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Angle grinder/cut off wheel is a great tool.I originally bought it to cut curves in tile work.Also modified a large one to run a 14" cut off wheel,to cut cast iron sewer pipe.Both are now important tools for my metal projects.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I did my first tractor engine oil change last week. Put in some Shell Rotella synthetic 5W-40, and a Mobil1 M1-102 oil filter. The filter is about 1/2" longer than the OEM Kohler filter, but spins on like it should. Left turns are fine, but I noticed I rubbed the filter with some right turns. Figure I will need to modify the steering rod in some way, or I might damage the filter bad enough to either leak or something worse.
Interesting thing after mowing tonight, the engine didn't seem to burn as much fuel as it did before the oil change. <edit> Previously, it looked like the tractor would burn about 2 gallons each time (1 acre lot). I nearly had the tank full this time, and it looks like I have 1/2 tank left.</edit>
I really want to get a tach and hour meter. It seems my tractor has the bluetooth capability, but the relay or socket is not included with my model. I checked another 27038 floor model at Sears and it doesn't have one, but a model higher up the line did. If anyone has suggestions, I'm open. I'd prefer an analog tach, but those that I have seen so far that will work seem to have plenty of $$ attached.
 
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