John's Old
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1978 2600 Ford

This was my 1978 2600 Ford. Purchased in 2008 it was in operable condition but had been exposed to the weather for years and it was showing. This tractor underwent a major loader re-fabrication as well as receiving a new paint job, new fenders, new electrical system, and a heavily modified dash. I no longer own this tractor but would buy another one if I had the opportunity.

This is the tractor the day I brought it home. The paint on the hood and loader is the only surviving paint. The fenders are destroyed, the rear rims are rotting, and there is something funny about the loader

Like I always do, I did nothing but run the tractor and evaluate it. While mechanically it was in pretty decent shape but suffered from neglect. The loader was finally identified as a Swartz, common to IH tractors. The loader had been hacked up to fit the Ford, and the frame was so wide that if it were moved back where it belonged it would interfere with the rear tires. The frame was mounted running uphill to help clear the front tires. Setting as far forward as it did the front tires hit the loader frame and picking up virtually anything put so much weight on the front that you could not more (no traction). As a part time fabricator for years it was clear things had to change. The loader would get completely rebuilt, the frame would become the hydraulic reservoir. I spent months studying loader manuals and pictures on the Internet trying to figure out where the pivot points should be. I never feared cutting it up and welding it back together I just worried about the geometry.

After studying for months I finally decided it was time to start. There comes a point where you can't draw anymore and just have to see how things fit. The loader was removed, and the lower frame was cut into pieces. There was virtually no part of it that could be used over without modifications.
This is the beginning of the lower right member. I used new and some other used steel that I owned for the main uprights and main lower pieces. Cylinder pivot parts were recovered from the old loader frame and used over. All joints were bevel ground and welded with multiple passes. The right frame is also now the hydraulic tank. I spent several hours calculating the capacity needed and it seemed it would al work out. You will see pipe couplings welded into the frame as part of the new tank.

Moving along with the right frame, some old parts are bing used.

Here is a shot of the new left and front frames..

This is the initial assembly of the new lower frame. The front piece and lower pieces were attached separately and then welded together on the tractor ensuring it fit right.

Once the frame was fitted to the tractor it was removed for final welding. The right side is the tank so welding was critical for no leaks. Besides its easier to get good welds when its on a bench and can be rolled over.

Since the new lower frame is narrower than it used to be, the upper frame had to be narrowed. I removed about 8" out of the frames.

If your frame is narrowed, then the bucket won't fit. I moved the mounts and narrowed the bucket by 4" so it would just  fit inside a 6' trailer.

The next step was to mount the loader and check the range of motion, it was pucker time.

While everything cleared, it was obvious to me that I had more travel below grade than I needed. While it would be more work I chose to move the cylinder mounts, change the upper frame again which changed the pivot points. This change reduced some of the travel below grade and gave more travel to the up position. Being this far in 8 more hours of fab time is not really a show stopper, it's just more rod right?

Once the frames were reworked it was time to paint the parts. I also fabbed a new lower cross member that the hydraulic hoses would route through. As fall was fast approaching it was getting colder. I had to oheat the shop to get the paint to dry and went through lots of firewood.

The previous owner cut a small notch for the hydraulic pump then fine tuned it with a sledge. I straitened out the nose piece and cut the area needed for the pump to fit properly.

Knowing that the tractor would be impossible to paint with the loader installed I decided to paint the chassis of the tractor. The days were getting colder fast and there was not enough time to properly prep the entire tractor. I decided to skip the hood components and catch up with them next spring. The weekend I painted ended up being the last one in the 60's for the year. The following Monday the temps dropped for the Winter.

This tractor was primed with 2 part epoxy and painted with Omni Acrylic enamel. I've stopped painting tractors with Alkyd enamel as it eventually fades.

The 2600 is starting to look better.

The front wheels were new and just needed paint. The rear rims were junk so I pulled some others out of my stock and welded up a rim but that's another story.

And just before winter it was back together and running. Much work still remained but it was running. I had to re-plumb the loader, replace most of the hoses and relocate the operator valves. This was starting to get expensive.

The fenders on the 2600 were pretty beat up. One was probably salvageable but I went lazy and bought a set of skins.

 I removed the original mounts by drilling out the numerous spot welds. With a little looking they aren't too hard to locate. You have to drill a little larger than the marks to all the spot weld.

Once off the mounts were sandblasted and primed. Next the mounts were located on the new skins and marked. After that I drilled a couple holes through the fender and bolted the skin on with 10/32 screws and flat washers to hold the skins tight against the mounts. Next I welded the fenders from the mount side filling all the drilled holes. Then the bolts were removed and the remaining holes were welded shut and ground smooth.

The rest is easy, standard paint prep. I paint fenders bolted to saw horses.

Fitting fenders to the tractor. That looks better!


                                               Click here for Ford 2600 part 2

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