Loaders: Throwing It in Reverse

“Making do” on the farm with custom creations, like reversed loaders.

| August 2014

  • Gerald Elsinger’s reversed Farmall M has a 325 DuAl loader and hydrostatic steering from a salvaged combine.
    Photo by Jim Lacey
  • Another view of Gerald Elsinger’s reversed Farmall M. This one has a 325 DuAl loader and hydrostatic steering from a salvaged combine.
    Photo by Jim Lacey
  • A 1937 Allis-Chalmers WC with Koyker loader. This view shows the heavy frame that was built around the tractor to carry the loader.
    Photo by Jim Lacey
  • A view of the "back" end of Ted Lacey's John Deere 4020 Powershift. The drawbar extends up to 18 inches and swings from side to side to facilitate unassisted hook-ups.
    Photo by Jim Lacey
  • Installed on the tractor when the unit was built in 1976, this Char-Lynn in-line power steering unit has done an excellent job.
    Photo by Jim Lacey
  • Ted Lacey’s John Deere 4020 Powershift, also reversed. This shows the “tilt” steering box Ted designed to make it easier to get in and out.
    Photo by Jim Lacey
  • The “office” on the WC. A John Deere gearbox handles the unit’s steering; a Buffalo “Joy Rider” seat makes the ride easier.
    Photo by Jim Lacey
  • The Allis-Chalmers WC and John Deere 4020 were prime candidates for the reverse makeover.
    Photo by Jim Lacey
  • The Allis-Chalmers WC and John Deere 4020 were prime candidates for the reverse makeover.
    Photo by Jim Lacey
  • The only known photo showing one of Dick Lacey’s reversed units. The Farmhand is really a pretty spindly unit and it is obviously on an old truck and going the “wrong” way!
    Photo courtesy Jim Lacey
  • The Farmall M was another good starting point for a custom creation.
    Photo by Jim Lacey

In times past, loaders were always mounted on the front of a tractor, because well, just because, that’s why. Then, years ago, some farmer must have looked at a Hough payloader, 2-wheel drive and with bucket ahead of the big tires, and started thinking: Maybe a guy could do the same thing with the old Allis sitting out in the trees.

Early on, the tractor of choice was the Allis-Chalmers WC. They were cheap (I paid $66 for mine), plentiful, had good governor response, and by simply rotating the differential a half turn, you had all four speeds going the other way! From there, you simply mounted a hydraulic pump (driven direct from the crankshaft) with a roller chain coupling and then you had live hydraulics.

Parts and pieces

The most major change to the tractor was building a subframe around it. That took stress away from the rather light frame on an Allis (as well as on the Farmall M). Control valves could be mounted close to the operator or run via cables underneath, keeping oil drips off the platform.

The clutch and brake pedals from an M or H (bought at the local salvage yard) worked well on an Allis, and mounting a cross-shaft underneath with greasable bushings accepted pedals. Aftermarket seating was also available (and was much nicer than factory stock). Steering was also done via a right-angle gearbox from a John Deere 226 or 227 corn picker (making sure to use the right one so the tractor went the way you turned it).

That gearbox was also tall enough to take the steering wheel to the right height. Power steering was a must, and was often accomplished with an inline Char-Lynn unit. That required a dedicated amount of oil, so a flow divider was used as well. Later, salvage hydrostatic steering units became available and were often used. A pair of hoses eliminated shafting and universal joints.

Putting a Farmall to work

Converting a Farmall M involved a bit more work. First, you bought a 9-speed conversion unit from M&W, and you got a faster reverse as well. That unit went ahead of the transmission, but you had to remember to have the tractor in factory mode when using the PTO, as this was also sped up thanks to the M&W unit.


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