Allis Gets A Facelift

This tractor, lately acquired, and much hated…….needs a way to get on/off without killing myself.  She needs some steps.

First, it was Out With The Old.  Got rid of the stupid worthless roll bar thingy.allis facelift1Tried gently removing it, then resorted to the heat wrench, and cut the sucker off 🙂 .

Next to go was all the other crap.  Stupid basket bolted to the fender, worthless auxiliary lights, and some ridiculous brackets used to put warning flags on the fenders and hood.  Just a pile of junk now.  Into the scrap pile it goes.allis facelift2

Let’s Build Some Steps

Always build it out, never build to fit.

If something has to fit precisely, it has to originate on the vehicle.  You can’t build something entirely off of drawings/measurements, and expect it to fit properly.  Something will always be off.  Either your measurements, or the vehicle itself (old stuff tends to get tweaked over time, nothing is straight after a lot of miles/hours)

Locate your first piece where it will eventually be bolted on.  This is where the new steps will go (ignore the battery, it hasn’t found its proper home yet)allis facelift3Locate your bolt holes, drill them, and attach your “anchor” piece.allis facelift4You now have a piece that fits EXACTLY where it is intended.  Then, you tack the rest of the stuff to this piece while it’s still attached to the vehicle.allis facelift6This is about as far as I got before the rain hit.  Get after it again tomorrow I guess.

The balance of the frame for the new set of steps was tacked in place.allis facelift8Now it’s time to fit the diamondplate.  First a template is cut out of cardboard to lay out the lines for the plate where it has to go around the fender.allis facelift18The template is indexed to the piece of plate which will become the floor, then the plate is notched to fit the fender.allis facelift19Then the entire mess is removed, after marking the remaining lines on important parts of the plate (more index marks).  The plate is placed under the frame, index lines aligned, and the plate marked for the final cuts.allis facelift21The underside of the floor is welded to the frame BEFORE WELDING THE FRAME OUT.  This is to help insure that everything stays as straight as possible.  At this point, the frame is only tacked.  (A word about the tacks……Had to use the wire welder to do the tacks on the 3/16 plate that comprises the frame, and the tacks had to stay on the plate without grinding them out before finish welding.  This is due to the fact that the wire welder tacks are weak.  3/16 is beyond the capabilities of a 115v machine.  So…….the tacks have to stay as intact as possible throughout the process).

After the floor is welded on, it’s time to finish weld the frame.  Strongbacks were used to keep distortion to a minimum while welding.  The frame was welded with 7018, which generates a lot of heat.allis facelift23After the frame is complete, it’s on to the steps……………………

The stringers are layed out, then cut.allis facelift14They’re bookended, then checked against each other for fit/dimensions.allis facelift12allis facelift13Even though a great deal of care was taken during layout, they’re off by about the thickness of a pencil line.  I used an old carpenters square for the layout that didn’t have an etched scale…..the lines are painted on the tool, and have worn with time.  Anyways……this illustrates the care you have to take at every step along the way.  ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING.

The treads have been cut, and now it’s time to assemble the thing.  The first step is to set up a jig.  These that I use are about the best I’ve seen.  Was the best thing I ever put together.  Simple, and useful for just about everything.

The stringers are clamped to the jig, then squared.allis facelift15allis facelift16After it’s all squared up, the jig is locked down to the table with clamps.allis facelift17Treads are re-inserted, and it’s tacked together.allis facelift10

The two assemblies can now be married.  This is where it gets tricky 🙂allis facelift24allis facelift25The stringers, which are made from 12ga, had to be tacked while reinforced with temporary strongbacks.  This was to keep them straight with all the weight of the floor/landing resting on them.

The unit is now about 90% done.allis facelift26allis facelift27The stringers have to be reinforced, the steps mounted on the tractor, and a brace made to tie the bottom of the steps to the tractor frame (Allis Chalmers has a real problem with weak operator platforms, and any add-ons have to be adequately braced)

To stiffen the stringers, some angle was drilled for plug welds.allis facelift37These were attached, along with stiffeners at the outboard edges of the treads.allis facelift38allis facelift43At this point, it’s ready for another round of fitting (oomph!…’s getting heavier all the time)allis facelift33allis facelift32The preliminary fit to the existing deck on the tractor came out ok.  I’ll really know for sure when the bolts are fully tightened, and the final brace is in place.allis facelift34The battery cover plate has to slide forward to be removed.  It’s the reason for the gap between it, and the new step assembly.  The plate just basically floats, it’s interesting when your feet bounce on it 🙂  All the 190XT’s have this kind of floor.allis facelift35allis facelift36The side rail on the tractor deck is not sturdy enough to carry the weight, and it has to have a brace between the second step, and the battery box.  Should finish that out tomorrow.

(to be continued)

4 thoughts on “Allis Gets A Facelift”

  1. I sure appreciate the comment. Don’t get many like this, and it’s a real pleasure. I hope this stuff gets out to people who are motivated to do good work. I learned through a lot of mistakes, and having to make them right.

    I took the liberty of deleting your name from your comment to protect your privacy, I hope that’s ok.

  2. I have enjoyed over the years the vast and complicated projects you undertake as well as the skill with which you stick weld. The last time I followed one of your projects you were fussing about trying to get a decent weld with a wirefeeder — with stick skills like yours, that blew my mind — I often thought you were using a wirefeeder because your welds look so amazing.
    Anyhow, on to the steps. Quoting you, “If something has to fit precisely, it has to originate on the vehicle. You can’t build build something entirely off of drawings/measurements, and expect it to fit properly. Something will always be off.” I then followed you “steps” build. I couldn’t agree more. However, I have been embarrassed to admit that I too, do things following this method — not everything because sometimes you need a drawing/measurements. But it has been my experience that among good welders there are sometimes good fabricators that are good welders that are not such good fabricators that are good welders. When I am around either group but especially the former, the word “hack” and the term “cobbled together” are thrown about rather harshly. I know sometimes those terms are deserved judging by the lack of quality in the project being critiqued. But too many times a perfectly fine project such as yours BECAUSE there were no drawings/measurements gets wrongly labeled. I for one agree that sometimes it has to be a “one-off” and it may take longer to draw it than to build it. Thank you for putting into words what many of us struggle with — getting the job done from the drawings that exist in our heads. Sometimes trial fits are the best way to go.
    I enjoy your philosophy of viewing life.


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