This tractor, lately acquired, and much hated…….needs a way to get on/off without killing myself. She needs some steps.
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.
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)Locate your bolt holes, drill them, and attach your “anchor” piece.You 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.This 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.Now 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.The template is indexed to the piece of plate which will become the floor, then the plate is notched to fit the fender.Then 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.The 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.After the frame is complete, it’s on to the steps……………………
The stringers are layed out, then cut.They’re bookended, then checked against each other for fit/dimensions.Even 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 two assemblies can now be married. This is where it gets tricky 🙂The 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.The 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.These were attached, along with stiffeners at the outboard edges of the treads.At this point, it’s ready for another round of fitting (oomph!…..it’s getting heavier all the time)The 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.The 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.The 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)