Great Expectations: Jeep Loader Attachments

Aftermarket jeep loader attachments struggled to get off the ground and are rare collectibles today.

| April 2018

Rugged little Willys Jeep earned an outstanding reputation in World War II, so it was only natural the civilian version CJ model would be equally popular after the war. One of many applications for the Jeep was its use as a farm tractor. It was probably the first four-wheel drive tractor built since Massey-Harris’ rigid-frame, steel-wheel version produced in the late 1930s.

The CJ Jeep could be adapted for farm use by adding a hydraulic lift hitch for 3-point implements, a 30 hp capacity PTO shaft (which could also drive a belt pulley) and a drawbar, of course. In the late 1940s, it had a 60 hp engine and a 3-speed transmission with a high-low transfer case, giving six forward gears. But could it also be a loader tractor? One thing in its favor: The four-wheel drive feature would maintain traction during loading operations as the weight shifted to the front axle. A loader attached to the front of a Jeep does not seem like a very good combination, but at least five companies thought otherwise.

Baldwin Jeep Loader

Manufactured in Wichita, Kansas, the Baldwin loader used a pivoting heavy-duty tire to help support the weight created by the loader. The wheel and tire assembly included a compression spring that worked with the Jeep’s front springs and it could be retracted when traveling on the road. A structure was added to reinforce the front of the Jeep’s frame and to provide an attachment point for the loader.

To raise the loader bucket, a cable went from the lift arms, over a pulley on the rod end of a long hydraulic cylinder and was then anchored to the loader frame. That arrangement doubled the lift arm travel for every increment of cylinder extension: The loader could lift 800 pounds to a height of 8-1/2 feet. Straps on each side of the pivot wheel provided the pushing force to load the bucket, which was dumped by manually pulling a trip rope.

The hydraulic system for the single-acting cylinder was supplied by a pump driven off the front of the engine crankshaft. The loader could be detached from the Jeep by removing just two bolts and disconnecting the hydraulic line. These two bolt locations also allowed the loader to pivot vertically to operate on uneven ground.

MAHL Jeep Loader

MAHL loaders also used front wheels to help support the weight from the loader. However, these were dual tires, and instead of pivoting, they were connected to the Jeep’s steering system.