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Thread: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

  1. #1
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    Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Not my design but I copied the best of what I saw others do. These will be used for light loads only such as brush and long branches which typically tumble out of the bucket as I stack and relocate them. The local steel mill supply store said most people go with the channel vs the more expensive square tubing so I went with the 3 inch channel

    They're about 90% complete. I've only ground the tops off the outside welds and plan on cutting several 1/4" x 4" flat steel gusset plates to reinforce the brace. Here's the rough template I'll use which will help support the forks and add strength to the angles. Most users recommend using chains on the uprights to wrap over the top of the bucket and support the load which keeps the bucket from bending. So far I have about $90 invested.

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    I built a set of 48” forks a couple of years ago with 3” channel. I have lifted almost 1000# with them. One issue I see with your design is that the screws have to be backed up tight under the bottom of the bucket or the screws will punch a neat hole through the bucket. Don’t ask how I know.

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  3. #3
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Quote Originally Posted by orezok View Post
    I built a set of 48” forks a couple of years ago with 3” channel. I have lifted almost 1000# with them. One issue I see with your design is that the screws have to be backed up tight under the bottom of the bucket or the screws will punch a neat hole through the bucket. Don’t ask how I know.


    Thanks and good point about the rear screws. The front ones are ok because they'll be going against the bucket, the cutting blade, and then the fork. I cant add a plate to the fork like you did and I was thinking of making a foot for the bolt with a 2in square plate and nut tacked on to keep it square.

    I appreciate the input.
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    use grade 8 bolts. it will keep them from mushrooming against the bucket.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Why is there so much space between bucket inside and channel with bolts ?
    A closer fit would be better.
    I would add another piece of steel that the bolts would go against. Just slip between and tighten down on it.
    That's better than having two bolts on bucket.


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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    I'd taper the ends of the forks at about 60 deg. angle and weld a plate on the bottom even if it's only 8-12" long. It would allow the forks to slide under things without making a mess and leaving grooves behind. Think of picking something up on the lawn or a dirt/gravel area. A gusset from the back channel where your bolts are to the upright would give the most strength so the channel with the bolts doesn't bend. I agree with BD1, why so much space between the channel with the bolts and the bucket? From what I can see some of your welds may be suspect. The channel with the bolts needs a good weld on the bottom side as that's where the stress will be when lifting things. Another good reason to go put gussets from the back of the that channel up to the top of the uprights. The gusset you pictured wouldn't do much to stop the channel behind it from bending.

    I think a slight redesign is in order. Mostly lowering the channel with the bolts so there's only a 1/4" or so gap when it slides on the bucket. I'd also put a couple more good passes on the short upright channels. There's lots of stress there.

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Thanks for the suggestions. These are 5/8 bolts that I had on hand and will probably upgrade to grade 8 once I'm ready to use them.

    The 4th picture I posted is a cardboard template I'll use to cut out 1/4" x 4x4 plate and weld over each side of the channel at the right angles for additional strength.

    The reason for the large gap between the upper and lower brace is because I need to have room for the lower end cap to clear when removing the fork. I can't simply slide it off without tilting the front of the fork up so the rear piece clears the cutting edge of the bucket.

    Here's a picture from a different angle that may help with what I'm trying to explain. I did try a smaller gap but found I could tilt the fork high enough to have that end clear and it barely clears now as it is.

    I'll probably taper the end too but right now I don't plan on scooping up pallets. Maybe in the future.

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer58 View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. These are 5/8 bolts that I had on hand and will probably upgrade to grade 8 once I'm ready to use them.

    The 4th picture I posted is a cardboard template I'll use to cut out 1/4" x 4x4 plate and weld over each side of the channel at the right angles for additional strength.

    The reason for the large gap between the upper and lower brace is because I need to have room for the lower end cap to clear when removing the fork. I can't simply slide it off without tilting the front of the fork up so the rear piece clears the cutting edge of the bucket.

    Here's a picture from a different angle that may help with what I'm trying to explain. I did try a smaller gap but found I could tilt the fork high enough to have that end clear and it barely clears now as it is.

    I'll probably taper the end too but right now I don't plan on scooping up pallets. Maybe in the future.

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    You should be able to find some long 5/8" square head set screws to replace those bolts. I had a set of commercial forks on an 821 Case loader that used 3/4" set screws and held pretty well to handle 12,000 lb joints of 42" pipe. We did put chains and binders from the heels of the forks around the rear of the bucket to keep them tight.

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer58 View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. These are 5/8 bolts that I had on hand and will probably upgrade to grade 8 once I'm ready to use them.

    The 4th picture I posted is a cardboard template I'll use to cut out 1/4" x 4x4 plate and weld over each side of the channel at the right angles for additional strength.

    The reason for the large gap between the upper and lower brace is because I need to have room for the lower end cap to clear when removing the fork. I can't simply slide it off without tilting the front of the fork up so the rear piece clears the cutting edge of the bucket.

    Here's a picture from a different angle that may help with what I'm trying to explain. I did try a smaller gap but found I could tilt the fork high enough to have that end clear and it barely clears now as it is.

    I'll probably taper the end too but right now I don't plan on scooping up pallets. Maybe in the future.

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    Ok , I see what you mean.
    I think you should consider adding a full length of steel on top of the bottom piece with channel on end.
    When lifting the bottom will be taking the weight. The small rear piece will have lots of pressure. A longer piece on top will spread the pressure out.
    Depending on the bottom bucket thickness, you could buckle it where that end piece Rochester bucket


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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Could you put the forks at the outside of the bucket and just swing them under the bucket, then slide them over to the spacing you want? That would allow to lower the channel with the bolts. Reinforcing the back of the bucket bottom is a good idea too.

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    Could you put the forks at the outside of the bucket and just swing them under the bucket, then slide them over to the spacing you want? That would allow to lower the channel with the bolts. Reinforcing the back of the bucket bottom is a good idea too.
    It wouldn't help too much because there's nuts inside the buck that attach the cutting blade underneath and they keep me from sliding them.

    Looking at some other designs offered they seem to have less than what I put into it

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    To the OP.....................

    You don't have a fail here, just a bit of not knowing what the stress points are.

    Forks are built using leverage, and resistance to bending. I think you have the bending thing down as well as it could be, considering the materials you're using.

    The problem, and I hope you see it, is the leverage.

    I don't have a set of forks like you've built. I made a set of forks that actually are pallet forks in the traditional sense. Salvaged some basics, and built what I needed.

    Name:  stand27.JPG
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Size:  124.6 KB If you look carefully at the load, and how the forks have to counteract the load, you'll see that the stress is at the top of the L shaped forks. They're trying to tear out of the mast. This is normal, and how all forks are made. The leverage is at the top. These forks are rated at about 4K as built.

    Your design, and all the other crappy designs (and I don't say this with malice), rely solely on the bucket floor to hold the load. It's actually not up to the strain. It's a bad design, but it's cheap, and it sells.

    One of the pictures you submitted shows that some bright designer knew the problem, and put a keyhole in for a chain brace. A chain that would go over the top of the bucket to brace the entire thing. See the pic I annotated...........

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Size:  29.2 KB The eye is there to take a chain that goes over the top of the bucket. This is what actually keeps the forks from buckling the floor of the loader (up to a point), and keeping the forks actually on the loader. Look at it, and design your thing accordingly.........you'll be fine.

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    I'm not trying to be a know-it-all, or jerking your chain. The loader, pallet forks, and trailer, all come out of my shop. Been there, and done all this crap.

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    The lathe still sits comfortably in the shop, and K'kins is starting to learn to use it. She's a peach. This stuff will have meaning though the years for her. You'd be surprised at what she can do.

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Quote Originally Posted by farmersammm View Post
    The lathe still sits comfortably in the shop, and K'kins is starting to learn to use it. She's a peach. This stuff will have meaning though the years for her. You'd be surprised at what she can do.
    I wouldn't be surprised at all, My other half worked for a Boeing contractor as a machinist for 15 years. She is a journeyman at lathes and mills. Also was a supervisor on printed circuit board etching.

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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Quote Originally Posted by farmersammm View Post
    I'm not trying to be a know-it-all, or jerking your chain. The loader, pallet forks, and trailer, all come out of my shop. Been there, and done all this crap.
    Thanks and I appreciate the input. My New Holland 7308 bucket isn't designed to hold much to begin with and my needs won't be over 300 pounds max. Mostly a few dead logs or on a rare occasion a small 7500 watt generator or air compressor on a palette and they're less than 150 pounds. Typically I've had a need to lift or transport light items that are either too wide or long to fit in the bucket without rolling out. Most weight will be in the bucket and very little out towards the end. Loops for chains and binders will be included to help keep some weight off the bucket edge. There's several tractors in the neighborhood with a funny smile on the cutting edge of the bucket from overstressing them and that's the last thing I want to have. Unfortunately my bucket is not a quick release type so I need to build off what I have.
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    300# is nothing for a loader. Heck my little JD garden tractor can lift that all day long with the little johnson 12 workhorse loader.
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Quote Originally Posted by N2 Welding View Post
    300# is nothing for a loader. Heck my little JD garden tractor can lift that all day long with the little johnson 12 workhorse loader.
    Exactly, the biggest concern which was pointed out is extending the load out 4 feet and applying a lot of force on a relatively small area where they attach. You could think of those forks as really large breaker bars and then imagine the torque or force that's applied to the contact points on the bucket.

    I'm not done with the project yet and still have more to add. I'll have them strong enough to exceed what little load I'll lift without worrying about the fork failing. I've cut and tested several welding coupons with this material and have good penetration so I think I have that part covered. I also have about 15ft of 1/8in x 3.5 inch flat steel I could cut and used under the contact points to help spread out the load across the bucket base.

    I'll have less than $100 when all said and done. I've seen others advertised for more and less money on eBay but believe they must be made from muffler pipe and won't do as well. Funny how there's no place for comments.
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Are you going to add some plate to the bolt ends so they don’t have as easy of a time of punching through? I have some AR450 plate that I have from a piece I cut off of my welding table. I could ship you a couple of pieces if you pay shipping. They would be about 3”x3” or 4”x4” and are about 1/2” thick. Let me know and I’ll see if I can find it and what the dimensions will be. USPS would be the cheapest flat rate box.
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Quote Originally Posted by N2 Welding View Post
    Are you going to add some plate to the bolt ends so they don’t have as easy of a time of punching through? I have some AR450 plate that I have from a piece I cut off of my welding table. I could ship you a couple of pieces if you pay shipping. They would be about 3”x3” or 4”x4” and are about 1/2” thick. Let me know and I’ll see if I can find it and what the dimensions will be. USPS would be the cheapest flat rate box.
    Thanks I appreciate the offer but I have several square pieces of 1/4 in mild steel and they should work. The AR450 plate would outlive me These forks might get used several times a year so they won't get much wear.

    I was thinking about putting grade 8 nuts on the end of the bolts with a plate under the nut and then tighten them into place on the bucket. Then weld the nuts to the plate. This would give a bigger and stronger footprint for the bolt end to the plate.
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  24. #21
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    No biggie , offer still stand if you change your mind.
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  26. #22
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer58 View Post
    Thanks I appreciate the offer but I have several square pieces of 1/4 in mild steel and they should work. The AR450 plate would outlive me These forks might get used several times a year so they won't get much wear.

    I was thinking about putting grade 8 nuts on the end of the bolts with a plate under the nut and then tighten them into place on the bucket. Then weld the nuts to the plate. This would give a bigger and stronger footprint for the bolt end to the plate.
    It maybe easier to skip the nuts. Just tack pipe or tube sleeves on top of the steel you plan on adding. Screw bolt into sleeve and it's self centering.


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  28. #23
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    A little update. I've been down with a virus the last week but thankfully it's not Covid and yes, I did get the vaccine.

    I cut and welded on the side plates where the majority of the weight will transfer to the bucket. The angled wedge is almost 3 inches long and sit on two hard steel cutting edges on the bucket. The forward bolt clamps on both wide blades plus the bucket material which total 1-3/8 inches thick. Used plenty of clamps to hold everything tight in position before tacking. More to follow.

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  30. #24
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Almost would have been easier/better to make forks that replace the bucket. It's not a big machine and only 4 pins to remove. Would give more lift capacity and way better vision of the forks. It also looks like you need to change your gun angle on the fillet welds and the heat could be a little higher.
    Last edited by Welder Dave; 06-10-2021 at 06:59 PM.

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  32. #25
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    Re: Bucket Forks for Front End Loader

    Did you tap the channel or are there nuts below. If tapped, I would enlarge hole and tack extra heavy nuts to channel. Lots more thread with a nut.


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