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  1. #1
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    2003 Kubota L3430

    Default Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    I recently had the opportunity to compare and test screw-on forks against chain-on forks, literally side-by-side, on my kubota B2910. Of the models I tested, the chain-on forks were clearly superior.

    I did this test with Robert Wolff of the Woodbury Tractor Company. This thread was intended to be my digital photo debut, since Robert has a camera. Unfortunately, someone purchased the screw-on forks the day before our photo session, so I'll do my best with words.

    Pictures are helpful, so let me first refer you all to two earlier threads on this topic. One was called "Clamp on forks question" begun on 3/26/01 in the Kubota Owning Forum. The other was "clamp onloader forks" begun on 4/3/01 in the Attachments Forum. In both threads there is a picture of Harv installing his screw-on Gearmore forks. In the second thread, jinman posted pictures of his chain-on forks. Hopefully, one of our picture wizards can post those photos into this thread.

    I compared the forks in the following categories:

    1. Price. The chain-on forks were significantly less than the screw-ons. I was bartering, but I think you can get the chain-ons I tested (and now own) for about $250 plus shipping. All of the screw-ons mentioned in the prior threads were in the $300-$500 range.

    2. Ease of Attachment. I would call this equal. Both are fast. Both have a slot you slide onto the lower edge of your bucket. Its the "tightening attachment" that differs. As you can see from Harv's photo, you just tighten a screw for the screw-ons. In the model I tested this was a little clumsy because the horizontal handle on the end of the screw would alternately bump into the fork housing in one direction and into the back of the bucket in the other direction. The handle is slidable, but is was a little difficult to get good leverage on the slidable handle to do the tightening. With the chain-on variety, a chain wraps completely around the bucket and is tightened with a load binder. See jinman's photos. The first time you do this, you have to experiment with which links to put the binder into. After you figure that out, the process is probably a few seconds quicker than tightening the screw on the screw-ons. With either model, the total time is literally 30-60 seconds per fork.

    3. Positioning on the bucket lip. The screw-ons can be positioned anywhere on the lower lip of the bucket. You have less flexibility with the chain-ons because you cant wrap the chain where the loader arms connect to the bucket or where you have welded hooks or other obstructions on the top edge of the bucket. But, for me, I can get the chain-ons postioned in enough places--close together, far apart--to meet any need I see.

    4. Security of attachment. This was the BIG BIG difference. The chain-ons attach tight as a drum whereas the screw-ons are wobbly. More specifically, if you apply downward force on either model, as with a load you are carrying, they both are secure in the downward direction. But if you apply upward force on the screw-ons, they have travel. They give. When I was just driving on my lawn with the screw-ons, they bounced around and clanked so much because of this upward give that I was afraid they were going to damage the lower edge of the bucket. Now, the screw-ons I was testing were different in one respct from Harv's. You can see that on the base of his screw, there is a flat plate where the screw meets the bucket. My set didnt have that plate. I think the plate might help the tightness of the connection. But there is simply no way that a screw can apply pressure across the whole bottom of the fork that is underneath the bucket. There is inherent tendency for wobble with upward force. With the chain-ons, however, the tightening force is distributed in all directions around the whole bucket. The forks cannot go down or up if they are properly tightened. As I say, the chain-ons are tight as a drum: no wobble, no clanking. There is also side to side movement on these forks. In other words, if you push the ends to the side, they will move. But again, the chain-ons were much tighter against side-to-side movement. This difference it tightness was the whole ballgame for me--I would have bought and paid more for the chain-ons for this reason alone.

    5. Potential for bucket damage. This is related to the attachment mechanism, and I believe the chain-ons are superior for the same reason. With the screw-ons all the force and leverage is on the lower lip of the bucket. With the chain-ons, the force is distributed more evenly around the bucket. The weak point, if any, would be the upper edge of the bucket, which I am having reinforced for this and chain hook reasons.

    6. Load stops. You will notice that Harv's forks have vertical load stops, and that jinman's chain-ons have no load stops. I think load stops are important. One is safety, because something like a log could roll right along jinman's forks, up the chains like ramp, and into the driver. I am sure he is aware of his and takes precautions. The second reason for load stops is so you can pile a lot of stuff like brush on the forks with out it sliding off. My chain-on forks have 24" load stops, which seem to be significantly longer than Harv's. The higher the load stops, the higher the pile of brush you can carry.

    7. Size, weight, strength. The screw-ons I tested appear to have about the same dimensions as Harv's. My chain-ons are at least 8" longer and 2" wider than the screw-ons. I think this is better: I can carry a lot of brush on those long forks, which are obviously made to fit on much larger buckets than my 2910. (The forks are so long that you may not be able to dump them completely on a very small compact tractor.) The chain-on forks are also hollow, unlike the screw-ons, which were solid metal. Therefore, the chain-ons, though larger, are actually slightly lighter in weight than the screw-ons. They are rated at 1500 lbs load, which is more than my loader can lift. As to material, the screw-ons were painted metal, which began to show rust on the paint-stripped areas after being left out in one rain. The chain-ons are coated with "top grade TGIC polyester urethane powder," whatever that is, and seem to have much less of a potential to rust.

    I of course cannot speak for all screw-on forks and all chain-on forks, but of the models I compared, it was not even a close call. I believe Robert is now going to be recommending the chain-ons, and you can get them through him.

    One last thing about the chain-ons. I found the load binder that came with them to be too big. The binder itself was longer than the mouth of my bucket and was therefore difficult to tighten properly. (This is also probably related to the fact that the forks are aimed at larger average bucket sizes than mine.) Being a nitpicker, I belly-ached about this and Robert got me a smaller loadbinder. I don't know the name--Robert would--but it works perfectly. It is not only smaller, but it is the kind of load binder that inserts into the chain link instead of the usual grabhook kind that goes around the chain link. This is better for two reasons: there is less of a tendencey for the binder to twist the chain, making the attachment more secure; and, secondly, you can insert the binder hook into a link so that it is over or under the next link. This is hard to explain, but the essence is that you can fine tune the tightness about 1/2 a link at a time rather than just one link at a time. In short, if you have a smaller bucket and want chain-on forks, I recommend you order them without the large load binders and buy shorter ones instead.

    This was long but hopefully helpful to someone in the future.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2000
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    California - S.F. East Bay & Sierra foothills
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    Kubota L2500DT Standard Transmission

    Default Re: Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    Glenn -

    A summary of all your recent comparisons and observations might make for a good couple of chapters in Muhammad's book. Unless you want to compete... [img]/w3tcompact/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    In keeping with the trend towards in-line graphics, I'll include the clamp-on fork picture you are referring to here:



    These are the only forks I have ever used, so I'm in no position to offer any comparisons myself. I will toss in a couple of personal comments, based on my own experience, though --

    Ease of attachment -- My screw handles, even when slid all the way to one side, don't interfere with the load stops or the back of the bucket. They can bump the side of the bucket if I postion the forks that far out. And you're right -- about 30 seconds per fork, probably less taking them off.

    Security of attachment -- I can't relate to the movement you experienced with the upward force thing. Might be just enough difference between brands to make the difference. I have no bouncing or rattling of any kind as I take my tractor through the steeplchase I call a tractor path on my property. I do notice that they are fairly easily pushed sideways, or rather "skewed", usually when I'm trying to pick something like a log right out of the dirt. Not a huge problem, but occassionally annoying.

    Potential for bucket damage -- this was a great concern for me when I first started using the forks 'cuz as you point out, you have all that leverage focused on a relatively small area of the bucket lip. Empirically, though, it has become a non-issue. More than once I have attempted lift things right out at the end of the forks that turned out to be too heavy for my loader. The bucket showed no hint of deformation. Thems is some pretty tough lips. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    A caution here -- my LB400 loader is a little wimpy in the biceps, so it's possible that a more macho loader might have the strength to hurt itself with this fork design, especially if you get the longer ones.

    Load stops -- definitely an important issue. Mine are there, but sufficiently short that I have already managed to drop a log on my head (well actually, my hood). That was definitely an attention lapse I have no intention of repeating. I am currently cogitating some sort of vertical extension, not only for better support and safety, but to aid in the transport of big loads of loose brush. I think I want to make them detachable 'cuz my small forks are already 90 lbs apiece, which is just about as much as I care to tote around by hand, thank you very much.

    Like I said, I have never used any other forks, including the chain-on kind. In fact, I bought the ones I have sight unseen and had them delivered along with the tractor itself. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/crazy.gif[/img]


  3. #3
    Veteran Member
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    Default Re: Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    Harv,

    Thanks for supplementing my post. Pictures are so helpful. I wanted to show the forks next to each other on my bucket. Oh, well.

    I think your forks are designed better than the ones I had. Your bucket also seems larger than mine. More room to turn the screw. I have a sort of ridge underneath the lower lip of my bucket that also seemed to interfere with the ability to tighten down the screw-on forks.

    The stress on the bucket will probably only be an issue for really heavy loads like rocks. I will be rolling rocks on my forks, so it worried me. I believe Woodbury Tractor welds an additional plate on the bottom of the bucket when they have sold the screw-ons.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    39
    Location
    Londonderry, NH
    Tractor
    Kubota L3010, loaded r'4s and an Ingersoll 4018

    Default Re: Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    Does anyone have a site address to see the chain-on forks? I had only considered the clamp on's until glennmac's post and now have to see these. David


  5. #5
    Veteran Member
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    Default Re: Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    Sailorcrew,

    For the particular forks I have there is no website. They are made by some small metal shop in Pennsylvania, I think. There may be websites for some other brand.


  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2001
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    128
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    Central Massachusetts
    Tractor
    JD 870

    Default Re: Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    Hmmm....

    I have a set of clamp on forks. As you noted, they were somewhat expensive ($350 shipped). My experience with them is quite at odds with yours. I find that they are _very_ secure when properly mounted. No up, down or sideways shifting in use. I have used them for picking up granite billets and curbstones (see the attachment for the a picture of the billet, in the grip of my backhoe, but subsequently relocated with the aformentioned forks). I've also used them for unloading my 6 foot rotary cutter and 5 1/2 foot box blade from the delivery truck. I found them excellent tools for the application to which I have put them.

    I have no experience with chain on forks and can't comment on the relative merits. I'm happy with my choice, though I have yet to use them for moving brush, which was the primary purpose for their acquisition.

    Matthew

    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
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    Waco, Texas
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    Kubota B2910; Kubota T1670

    Default Re: Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    Glennmac,

    As usual, a very thorough and thought-provoking post. Those pallet forks look like an acceptable and less-expensive alternative to a grapple. One question . . . can you just drive them into a brush pile and pick it up, or do you have to pile it on them by hand?


  8. #8
    Super Member
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    Default Re: Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    Fishman,
    I don't have the attachable forks but the quick tach ones for my JD and I do like you described. It doesn't work as well as you would think because everything tumbles off the sides and there is any to hold it on or down. It does work good to pile brush really though.


  9. #9
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    <font color=blue>can you just drive them into a brush pile and pick it up</font color=blue>

    Yep, that's the way I do it with my 4' forks; very carefully though after dragging enough brush along both sides of the tractor to rip the valve stem right out of the right front wheel about the second day I ever used the forks.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/frown.gif[/img]

    Bird

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2000
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    Location
    Iowa
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    Kubota B2910

    Default Re: Comparison Test--Attachable Loader Forks

    BTW

    I have a quick attach bucket bracket (kubota not bobcat)and have priced the kubota 36" pallet forks to use interchangeably with my bucket. They are significantly more money ($894). The only reason I consider them is b/c I have the quick attach to change back and forth with. These options sound much more economical.

    Just thought I'd share FYI

    Leef


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