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Author Topic: Bucket forks  (Read 1343 times)

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Online Crusarius

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Bucket forks
« on: September 05, 2017, 01:03:29 pm »
So I am working on building a sawmill. I knew eventually I would want a set of forks for my tractor. What I just realized is that the steel I purchased for the sawmill build is really heavy. (I knew this before but I just decided I should not keep trying to move it all myself). I am not all that bright, and can sometimes be a little slow, but I finally decided to make up a pseudo set of bucket forks to lighten my heavy lifting.

So here is the build. Hope you all enjoy.

I started scouring the shop for the materials I was going to use. I knew that I wanted roughly 4' long forks with a tapered end and a hole for a hitch ball or lifting clevis. I found a piece of 2"x4"X.25" angle. This would turn into the fork tips. I reinforced them with 3/8" plate. I drilled a 1" diameter hole for the clevis. I used 2x6x3/16 for the forks.



The bucket mount was a little more challenging. I needed something to spread the load across the lip of the bucket and to support the tips of the forks. I used the same piece of 2x4 angle that I used for the tips.

I also wanted it to be width adjustable. Since I am in the middle of the sawmill build I just happened to have the perfect materials for this in stock. I used 2.5" 11 gauge tube welded to the forks. This tube slides perfect over 2" .188 wall square tube. I also used the 2.5" to create standoffs for the slide rails.

The 2.5" was welded directly to the angle and then the 2" are to be welded between the 2.5" after the forks are slid on. This gives me the option of adding a backplate at a later date simply by inserting 2" into the tube.





I made a spring clip for the underside of the bucket just to give it a little more stability. The primary reason for this is it kep falling off when I was trying to test fit everything. I made a press brake quite a while ago and it always seems to come in handy for stuff like this.




This is a view looking at the end of the brake.

In the testing phase I realized that the angle the forks ended up at would not work. I was unable to see them from the driver's seat. I ended up having to shorten the vertical tubes and flip the entire assembly over. This made me very happy since I had already full welded that part. I definitely did not screw around with the welds.

To be continued...
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Offline Ox

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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2017, 10:30:34 am »
 :P popcorn_smiley
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 01:05:07 pm »
Phase 2:
So as I mentioned above I had an issue with not being able to see the end of the forks. My initial thought was "crap I really don't want to cut those welds". So after some pondering, staring and ignoring and some more pondering I figured out how to fix it without to much work. The vertical 2.5" square pieces I had made 6" long. The 2.5" piece was offset. So after some measuring and thinking I figured out if I cut 1 3/8" off the end of the 2.5" verticals that would make it so the forks would hang below the vertical. The best thing about this was I was able to fit it in my chopsaw and bandsaw so I did not have to make the cuts by hand.

This is how I originally had the frame setup.


This is how it ended up after the modifications.


The angle is now leg up instead of down. The good news is I still get the same strength just in a different way.

The forks are now flush with the bottom of the bucket. This makes the bucket level indicator close enough to the level of the forks that lining up to pickup a skid is so much easier.

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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 01:06:42 pm »
I placed the tube on the end of the forks in a way that they would help hold the forks in place.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 01:18:53 pm »
I just realized how disorganized and chaotic my thoughts are. Maybe I  need to slow down and take it easy :)
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2017, 01:29:21 pm »
During testing I bumped the tips of the forks on the ground and the entire assembly bounced and fell to the ground. I decided to add the turnbuckle you see inside the bucket. The previous owner had cut a hole in the bucket for drainage so I decided to just use it.

That little turnbuckle addition worked great to keep the forks connected to the bucket.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2017, 01:43:24 pm »
With the weight of the forks and no support for the frame the square tube twists and locks in place. This works great in preventing the forks from moving. But it does not work great for when you want to change the location of them.
I ended up adding a center vertical with a hook that goes over the back of the bucket. This allowed me to rotate the frame into place and keep it there. I originally started with just a clip over the bucket. But after testing and bouncing it around I found that without something to hold it on it liked to bounce off. I added a spring clip to the front side of the bucket. This worked very well in keeping the clip from bouncing off.



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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2017, 01:44:47 pm »
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2017, 01:46:11 pm »
Here is the completed assembly minus the other 2 uprights for the back plate. I do have them made just not on in the picture.

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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2017, 01:48:54 pm »
here is the complete assembly in the paint booth.


This is my little helper.


Me grinding


Me welding


completed assembly with all 4 colors of paint since I kept running out...
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Offline Ox

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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2017, 09:43:47 am »
Good job.  You'll use them a LOT.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2017, 10:28:03 am »
hopefully tonight I will get a chance to play with them and see how they work. little concerned since I can bounce on the forks and lift the back of the tractor. I really need to get my tires loaded.
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Online Chuck White

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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 10:52:15 am »
Agreed, if you're going to carry much of a load on the forks or in the bucket, load the back tires or otherwise add a ballast to the rear of the tractor!   ;)
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 10:53:45 am »
I usually run with the box blade on the back. it makes decent ballast but makes maneuvering much more challenging. Especially in my woods / yard.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2017, 05:30:36 pm »
Nice fab job on the forks.

Get the back tires loaded AND use a counter-weight on the back.  Those forks are on the long end of the lever.  It doesn't take a lot of weight to get the back end to come up.

If you use forks on the back of the tractor as well, you can make a counter weight on a skid and pick it up as needed.  Or just grab an oak log on the back.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2017, 09:00:42 pm »
thats not a bad idea. I typically use the box blade it works alright. Definitely need to load the tires though.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2017, 09:01:18 pm »
I was playing with the forks tonight. they work really nice. Will post some pics tomorrow I hope.
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Offline Hilltop366

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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2017, 09:31:33 pm »
Looking at a guys bucket forks the other day. He cut a hole in the back of the bucket so he could see the forks, when he wants to use the bucket he bolts the piece of steel back in to cover the hole.

Nice job on the forks.

Offline 21incher

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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2017, 11:20:59 pm »
They came out nice. I purchased a pair of the clamp on ones and each one has a pocket for a vertical 2 x 3 and I have found it is a required feature when picking up a stack that is taller then the bucket or a top heavy item.
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Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2017, 03:03:22 am »
I got my forks from the junkyard. I was so lucky that the upper part of the
forks hooked right under the lip of my bucket.

 

 
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2017, 03:28:30 am »
You will be amazed at how much you can't lift with the forks on the bucket instead of removing the bucket when forks are used.
Our 4020 john deer farm tractor would easily handle more weight with just forks than a 930 cat with forks mounted on the bucket.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2017, 07:45:27 am »
I know I will be limited. I am planning a skidsteer quick attach just didn't want to invest the time in that right now. So I made the bucket forks instead. Kinda dead in the water waiting for the wheels for my sawmill that were supposed to be here last saturday.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2017, 08:17:00 am »
Here is the fully assembled forks after yesterdays test run. They worked better than I expected. I will be doing more when I get home tonight. It is still challenging seeing the ends of the forks but I think it will be tolerable. Especially after I get used to them. My biggest issue is now that the front of the bucket is 4' further out tiny little movements are amplified quite a bit.

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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2017, 01:48:17 pm »
Glad to hear they're working out.  Nice job.  It's good to get something like that done while you're in a delay on your main project.  They will come in handy.  Even with the limitations of bucket forks (and 3-pt) forks, they are a lot better than no forks.  You'll get used to having all that  new length in front, but they do describe a large radius when turning.  They don't take shock loads very well either. 

When you get to picking up things you'll find out how much counter-weight you need.  You probably have enough scrap steel laying around to make something.  Another project for one of those delays maybe.  A couple pieces of I-beam and some railroad track would add up pretty quick.

I knocked out a second counter weight this morning, because I need one at the sawmill and at the house too.  I can always pick up a heavy log for a counter-weight, but it just adds to the amount of side clearance I need. This one's just 8x8 solid blocks on a skid made of 2x4's on 4x4 stringers.  Not pretty, but effective.  20 blocks makes a pretty good ballast.

 

  

 

My forks aren't as pretty as yours, but it's not a beauty contest.  There are some challenges to putting forks on a 4-in-1.  That's probably why I've never seen any for sale.  These are fixed to the sides, which makes them a bit less versatile than movable spacing.  They work though, and I'm glad to have 'em.

Having forks on the back really increases what you can accomplish with tractor forks.  They'll handle at least twice the load the bucket forks will.  The also give you options on maneuvering loads.  A tractor is not very nimble in tight spaces compared to skid steers and forklifts.

Keep up the good work.  I'm looking forward to watching your mill come together.  I wish I had your fabrication skills.

BT
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2017, 01:57:46 pm »
I really like your skid idea for the rear. I may have to do something similar to that. you are correct I have lots of scrap steel around. I bet I could make a box for my quick hitch and load it with lots of heavy steel from work to. Might have to look into doing that.

Those forks looks really sweet. looks like they work great. Do you have anymore pics? curious on bottom detail.

Thanx for the compliments on the fab skills. Definitely feels good :)
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2017, 03:39:16 pm »
Here's the bottom.  Not much to it.  The jaw of the 4-in-1 is not a flat plate.  It's a thin triangular box with a cutting edge in front and a cutting edge in the back.  The top and bottom plates are pretty thin.  As a unit, it is strong and holds up well to abuse from typical use, which does not include mounting bucket forks.  The reason I made them this way was to put keep the force at the front and at the rear of the jaw, where the big steel lives.  There are some shim pads welded on to the top of channel steel at the back so the force is applied there instead of the thin steel of the box structure.  I did not know if would work when I was building it, so I just used a piece of 5x1.5 channel that was laying around and some 5/16 plate.  I didn't spend a lot of time making it pretty - I was just trying to see if would be functional.  Someday in my spare time I'll make another one now that I know it works.

 

 

 

 

There's a plate on the outside of each fork and two bolts through the side of the jaw that hold it in place.  The bolts don't have any real strain on them unless I catch a tree while backing and turning.  Not that that would ever happen. ;)

The whole design is dictated by the design of the 4-in-1.  My first idea was to just make it with a vertical bit at the back end of the channel and just slide the forks on and bite them with jaw to hold them in place.  Could work, but the geometry of the jaw and the cutting edge on the blade was too much to deal with at the time.  Maybe I'll go back to that on Version 2.0

Here's another counter-weight I use.  It works fine, but with the log on the back and a 10 foot pallet of lumber on the front, it's hard to get through the drive-thru at BurgerDoodle.

 

 

One thing I've found with this tractor is that I'm constantly switching between using the counter weight and using the back forks for actual work.  If my counterweight was hitched on I'd have a lot less flexibility from task to task. 
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2017, 04:15:15 pm »
Thank you for the detail. that really is a pretty slick setup. Definitely looks very stout.

I have a quick hitch on my tractor so changing from weight box to forks is not that much work. I do find that I almost always want my box blade on there for quick cleanup as I drive through an area so that has been my goto weight.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #27 on: September 15, 2017, 10:35:55 am »
Real testing performed last night. I almost had to post a picture like Kbeitz but I managed to save it. I would have gotten a pic but I could not get off the seat without it wanting to fall over. I definitely need counterweight.



Also works for trees.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #28 on: September 15, 2017, 10:36:45 am »
Forks did bow with the jeep on there but straightened right back out after setting it down.

I am very pleased with how they work.
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Re: Bucket forks
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2017, 08:08:03 pm »
I used to use other pieces of farm equipment for rear ballast when lifting heavier loads in the front bucket or on my forks, then I bought an old steel weight box. I have it filled with crushed stone with a few large rocks too. The box is likely somewhere between 1500 and 2000# I'm guessing. With it on, I have no issues carrying the heaviest loads my FEL will handle. My loader bucket is quick attach so it's easy to change from bucket to forks. I had clamp on forks on my previous tractor, but that put the weight more than 2' farther out front, I like the regular forks much better and being mounted directly to the loader arms I can lift far more weight than I could back when I was using clamp on forks.
Which ever you use, just be sure to carry a heavy load low to the ground and don't make any fast turns. Many a tractor has been rolled by carrying loads too high.
I'll also vouch for the handiness of a thumb, while my tractor does not have one, I do on my little excavator. It's a mechanical for now but I think I'll add hydraulics someday. Even with a mechanical thumb, I can lift a big load of brush or limbs by clamping the bucket back against the thumb , lift it all and drive to a brush pile, then just open the bucket away from the thumb and the load drops. I just took down 3 basswood stems (a 22", a 20" and a 19" DBH) 2 wks ago, they were a cluster of 3 at the edge of the woods so they had lots of limbs to get rid of. All the bigger ones I bunched into good size piles just using the bucket and thumb, then I opened the bucket, pushed the thumb to the pile and clamped down with the bucket, lifted and drove. I was carrying anywhere from about 200-500# on a load with the bigger limbs (up to about 3.5" diameter, over that will be burned in my evaporator). The loads at the end got smaller as I had to pile stacks of smaller limbs to then clamp and carry, but it was way faster than any method I used before I had the thumb.
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