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With the jig saw needing to stop every now and again to cool down, it took a couple of hours to cut through the 1/4" thick aluminum alloy. But that really wasn't an issue.....when you are retired, you have plenty of time for projects like these. (that is what I keep telling myself anyway!) And like I mentioned before, the one blade that I used is still in good condition. Did I mention I had about a half dozen extras, just in case?
I guess I should mention here that I didn't spend additional time
smoothing/rounding the metal edges once I was done cutting. It really
wasn't all that sharp since the jig saw did a fairly good job on the alloy.
I would have used a 4" flapper disc on my right angle grinder but I was fresh
out of new discs and I knew it would take a couple to properly do the job.
Maybe the next time I do universal hydraulic fluid change, I'll revisit the
It was my original intention to also use aluminum for the mounting brackets.
However, the shop I bought the 6061 alloy from was fresh out of what I needed to
make brackets so I ended up buying a piece of 1/8" thick angle iron instead. I spent some time with a hacksaw
cutting the brackets after determining
the length for the brackets. The design is simple enough, bolt the
aluminum alloy to the bracket and then bolt the bracket to the sub-frame.
Of course, a few holes are needed to make all of this come together. I
selected 3/8" hardware for putting everything together.
OK, before you are inclined to comment on the bracket paint color, I'm
sticking with the story that the 3 cans of black spray paint that migrated to MN
with me didn't survive the ordeal. The only useable colors that made it
were orange and gold. I decided to go with the gold since I couldn't think
of any other project where I would really want to use gold paint so putting it
on the bottom of the tractor was a win all the way around. Pay no
attention to the numbers in the above photo. Prior to being painted, the
brackets wore a matching number too. This allowed me to keep track of which
one went where so the holes I drilled would line up when I was all done.
The hardest part, for me anyway, was drilling the bracket mounting holes through the sub-frame. It is nearly 1/2" thick steel. I got pretty good at sharpening my drill bit while doing this part of the project.
I was in somewhat of a hurry to get this project wrapped up so I could haul in some firewood so I didn't cut any maintenance access holes in the skid plate. It is very easy to remove the skid plate when supported in the center of the plate using the floor jack. The next time I do the scheduled maintenance on the tractor, I'll probably cut a hole or two in the plate to make it easier in the future.
I originally wanted wanted to use a third pair of brackets which would have been located farther back on the skid plate, closer to the rear edge of the plate. However, space is tight back there and the thought of drilling the sub-frame in those cramped quarters squelched that idea once I started evaluating possible mount locations. I don't see it as really being that much of a problem. If something comes up and I find a need to make a change, I'll update this write-up.
The last thing I still need to do but have not addressed is putting a shield around the area where my front end loader hydraulic lines connect to the tractor. They are located on the right side of the tractor in the near vicinity of the hydrostatic pedals. I've already managed to put a branch right into that cluster of hoses before I even started this skid plate project. Since I have some left over 6061 alloy, I'll attempt to cut and then mount a shield for that area once I figure out the details. I'll update this write-up when I do.
Since installing the skid plate, I've had the tractor in the woods twice and the skid plate has met my expectations, working well and without any noted issues. For a scratch built DIY project, I'll rate this one a success for sure!