Introduction: Tractor Bucket Attachment Point (Let's Lift Heavy Stuff!)
You paid WHAT for that tractor, and it doesn't even have a decent attachment point for lifting random farm stuff?!?!?
Are you a tractor owner, and find yourself wanting to hook a chain onto something huge and lift it, only to find the shoddy folks in accounting at the tractor company decided to save $8 and skipped putting on a good attachment point for you to lift your stuff? I mean, if you wanna lift stuff like a BOSS with that tractor bucket, then you need somewhere to hook a chain...like a real chain like your grandpa used to lift logs to build a whiskey bar that time he and Paul Bunyan were hanging out and needed a place to get a drink..not these little tiny chains the kids are using these days....I mean nothing is worse than your bull looking at you and saying "you call that a lift point?" and you having to concede he's SO right!
If you're way overpriced tractor is missing an attachment point, then YOU CAME TO THE RIGHT PLACE!
Here we'll see a couple tractors which have weak or less than functional attachment points on their buckets, and we'll see ways to add those attachment points to have a more functional tractor (that your bull won't make fun of you for!).
DISCLAIMER: Seriously, load lifting on equipment is serious business...lifting unbalanced loads or loads which may be more than your equipment is rated for given the terrain can lead to serious injury or death. Further, failure to create correct welds, or use of inadequate materials/etc, and failure to routinely inspect equipment and custom modifications could result in injury, or death. Take this all seriously...overloaded tractors do flip and kill people...and there's nothing more embarrassing than dying in a pile of cow manure.
Step 1: Determining Bucket Attachment Point
First we need to locate the position for the new attachment point. Your bucket shape, combined with position of things like hydraulics systems or other components will dictate placement. It's suggested that your attachment point should be between the ram horns to which your bucket attaches, so weight is conveniently somewhat centered automatically. If you would place the attachment point outside the mounting horns of the bucket (near the ends) you are already setting up your tractor to be more likely to tip over when lifting loads on that attachment point (unless you make two symmetrical attachment points, and always use both when hooking up to loads).
Locate the position so that when the bucket is fully curled back against the lift horns, that the attachment point you've made will NOT come in contact with any other parts of the tractor...ESPECIALLY any hydraulic lines/etc which might be close by for the bucket hydraulics. Make sure to allow plenty of clearance as buckets can deflect/twist under load moving them closer to impacting nearby components through flex of the bucket.
Once you have located where on the bucket the attachment point will go, mark it with a marker or steel ink, and then set marking holes using a steel punch.
Some tractors may already have a 'metal strap' type connection point. It is possible to use this as the mounting point for the new attachment, but it would require reinforcement. In this case, this was NOT the route chosen.
Step 2: Fabricating the Attachment Point Main Body
We used 1" thick plate steel, in a 4" stock size for the main attachment point component (bandsaw works great here)
Cutting off a piece about 1"x4"x5" (on the long side) with a tapered cut yields a good attachment shape for general light farm use (this is NOT suitable for industrial use).
After getting down to your 1" block shape, use a grinder or wheel to clean up the edges/burrs, and to grind the edges to be welded so they are ready for welding.
Step 3: Mark and Drill Your Clevis Pin Hole
Drilling 1" plate is less than fun. So be patient, and go slow.
First, you'll need to use your clevis to mark where you want your clevis pin hole. Whatever you do, make certain your drilled hole will have at LEAST 1" of material between it and the edge of the plate, or you're weakening your mount.
Using the clevis, a ruler, and a sharpie/marker, determine and mark your clevis pin hole. After marking, use a punch mark the same spot for drilling.
Be very conscious at this point of the shape of your tractor bucket. You want the clevis to be able to swing 100% down to carry the load, and not have it 'lock' against the bucket or bracket at some weird angle when loaded. So be sure you place your clevis pin hole appropriately to allow this swing.
Using a 7/8" drill, at a low RPM, patiently drill your clevis pin hole. REMEMBER TO WEAR SAFETY GLASSES!
Step 4: Prep Bucket for Welding Attachment, and Test Fit
So earlier, you should have determined your mounting location on the bucket.
Hopefully, you marked it with a marker, and then used a punch and hammer to punch mark the lines you've made.
Next, go ahead and grind off the paint to prep the area to receive the weld. You should still be able to see your punch marks for aligning our piece.
Now, test fit your 1" plate piece, by aligning it on the punch marks made earlier. Trim the 1" plate, and adjust position as needed.
Step 5: Initial Weld of 1" Plate
Once you like the position of the 1" plate, go ahead and tack it in place, and then run a welding pass down both sides. Additional passes can be made later, depending on your need/welder type/stick or wire size. We're just trying to hold it in position for now, to fit the next braces.
Step 6: Fabricating a Re-Enforcing Bracket and Attachment
Depending on the shape/thickness of your bucket, you may need to add some additional reinforcement to your 1" plate bracket. In the case of the bucket above, simply welding to the bucket lip was going to probably result in problems, so the decision was made to add some reinforcement to distribute any loads a bit more.
Using cardboard, a template was created. That template was transferred to some 1/4" thick steel plate and test fitted. Repeated test fits and trims were necessary to get good contact for welds and get all the angles correct. Be patient, and spend the time to correctly fit any reinforcement brackets. Tight fitment will lead to better welds, which will lead to more strength.
Once fitment is correct, we used a C-Clamp to hold the brackets in place and to do welds on them. Make sure you grind paint off to prep the weld areas.
We used two brackets for reinforcement, placing one on each side of the main 1" attachment point.
Step 7: Last Test Using Clevis and Final Paint
Through the process the clevis attachment with pin were refitted repeatedly to ensure a good fitment. Clevis' can be purchased online, or at any tractor supply or farm store. Commonly used sizes for clevis's is a pin size of either 3/4" or 7/8" (US).
As you can see in the images, after final fitup checks out, a little paint was added. Also, you may note we welded the owners initials into the bracket (KF) so in the event of theft, it would at least cost the thief some time to grind that off.
Step 8: Wrap Up
1) Huge thanks if you even read this Instructable. I hope it was helpful in some small way.
2) Photos on this page include another similar install, on a larger bucket, where two attachment points were added, and a 'twist' clevis was installed. You will note some slight differences accounting to a larger bucket, and the alternative clevis type.
3) Safety on a Tractor: Carrying any load on a bucket can be dangerous. DO NOT overload your tractor/equipment. Just because you can lift something with the bucket doesn't mean it's safe. Be EXTREMELY careful when driving with any weight on the bucket, as it can quickly tip a tractor, and catch you off guard.
4) Chains, welds, and safety: Handling chains and attaching them to running equipment and heavy loads is dangerous. Hands and gloves get caught in chains, hydraulics stick open, and people get hurt. Exercise extreme caution when hooking up, unhooking, or transiting loads using chains and equipment.