Building the 2×4 frame gave me a decent idea of what was going to be needed for the steel frame, plus I had more time to think about it. So when I started the steelwork, I pretty much knew what I wanted. The wood frame also gave me something to take measurements off of, and see areas that could be optimized on the steel frame.
I started by making the transaxles as close together, and fabricating some steel plate mounting tabs to weld to the steel tubing. Notice that welds are only tack welds, because if something needs to change, a tack weld is much easier to cut loose than a full weld.
Once the transaxle sub-assembly was fabricated, I moved onto the main frame. I had some leftover 1 ½” tubing leftover from a previous project, and that was used as part of the frame. To make a proper joint to round tubing, it needs to be “fish mouthed” or “coped” to fit. Normally, that might be a time consuming job using a hand grinder or a hole saw in a fixture. Some years ago, my brother and I built an abrasive tube notcher. You can see more about that project here. This makes short work of making a proper tubing joint.
The main frame holds the transaxle subassembly, an outer bearing for the track drive shafts, and pieces to attach the track suspension to. Notice that only tack welds again, with some pipe clamps to help fixture everything. I also used a digital level, and a measuring tape to square everything up.
At this point I decided it would be a good idea to see how a snow blade would attach onto the frame. I had just been to an auction sale, (I do love a good auction sale, who’s with me there???) and I had bought this little blade thinking that it might be a good starting point.
Now I think everyone will notice, it’s not wide enough!!! Yup, I figured that out already, my initial plan was to widen the blade on each side, but more on that later. For now, it was enough to see where it would fit, and how far forward it would need to be, how wide, and start some thoughts on a lift mechanism.
I had just been to a different auction sale, and picked up some almost new hydraulic cylinders for a steal, and there were 4 of them. It just seemed like those would be just the ticket for making the up/down and the left/right tilt.
I also had been thinking about the prototype belt drive system, and was contemplating a better way of routing the belts to get more contact area of belt to pulley on the transaxles.
In the next pictures, that’s my girlfriends hands helping me test some component locations. You didn’t actually think my hands and fingers looked that nice did you??
Said girlfriend later turned into my fiancé, and later my wife. So that’s the test to know you’ve got a keeper when she’ll help on projects like this before we’re even engaged!
With those words of wisdom, that’s a good spot to take a break!