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Using a farm jack to lift a riding mower


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#1 DouglasFir OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 10:29 AM

Has anyone here used a "farm jack" to lift their lawn tractor to allow easier access for working underneath? I'm new to working on equipment and have been tinkering with two 15 year old Craftsman models. I have the engines in good shape now but I can't quite figure out how to get the things high enough to work underneath to change steering parts and blades.

Harbor Freight has a $46. "farm jack" (item 6530) that I was thinking of trying. I'm thinking of buying one and using it on the front end of the tractor---maybe attach a 4x4 across both wheels.

I know about the MoJack but they are too expensive for me.

Thanks!

#2 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 10:32 AM

That farm jack would NOT be safe to use! It will hold huge vertical loads, but is very unstable, and if your tractor wheel chocks slipped, you'd have a tractor dropped on you before you could twitch!

#3 ncb OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 02:53 PM

late 70,s i had a friend under his lowered 68 roadrunner lookin at the clutch with nothing but the old style bumper jack holding car up ,no jack stands,nothing. me and my dad stopped by ,seen what he was doing and gave him supreme crap for his stupidity and were about to leave because we didnt want to witness what may happen . he was out from under the car for all of 10 seconds when the car hit the ground and the jack stopped about 30 feet up the driveway. do yourself,friends and family a favor , think ahead and be safe cause you may not get a second chance .

#4 DouglasFir OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 03:01 PM

I wasn't thinking of working under the jack----just use it to get the front of the tractor up two or three feet and then put my jack stands underneath the front axle. I agree it would be stupid to work under any kind of jack.

Another idea I had was to build two short concrete block walls, about 3' or 4' high and have their width match the width of the tractor wheels. I could then put some ramps against them and drive or push the tractor up onto this short wall and I'd have space below to crawl under. But, I don't want to go to the trouble of building concrete block walls that match only these Craftsman tractors as the next one I get may have different widths between the wheels.

In the meantime, I'm stuck with two tractors now that I've been tinkering with for months and finally have ready to go but I can't figure out how to get under them to change the old, rusty blades and bad steering gear.

#5 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 03:24 PM

If you only use it to lift it so you can put stands or proper blocking under the tractor to support it, I would say go for it.

I bought a Highlift Jack ($59 at the farmstore) a weekago Wednesday. I had the JD 318 stuck in a mudhole(found a spring in a sidehill I was mowing) and my other GT was broke down. It was too wet to get the pickup close enough to pull it out(2 WD). I took the highlift jack, some concrete cap blocks and two planks down. Sidenote: packing all that stuff on a 90 degree day bout killed this old guy off at least I could get the pickup within 50 yds?

Jacked it up and put the planks under the wheels and backed it out of the hole. I have lots of jobs on my place that I can use the jack for, so I think it was money well spent.

BTW would not the cost of a mower lift be equal to or close to the cost of block walls? I think Harbor Freight has them too.

As far as taking the mower blades off, I find it easiest to remove the mower and give it a good cleaning while off.

Edited by JD DANNELS, July 08, 2011 - 03:32 PM.


#6 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 03:32 PM

Douglasfir, certainly didn't mean to imply anything stupid, but you would have to understand some things we've heard/seen can be way off the deep end. Just trying to be on the safe side. Myself, I'd recommend a rolling floor jack, capable of lifting high enough to slip stands under the wheels. Much safer to use. With a hi-lift farm jack you'd have to chock the wheels, then when the jack lift the tractor up, the jack tilts. A floor jack just rolls to stay centered. Costs more, but not as much as broken tractor parts, or worse, body parts!

#7 hydriv OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 03:50 PM

Places such as Harbor Freight sell electric winches that run off of 115 VAC that will lift 1500 LBS Click on this link

120V AC Electric Winch w/ Remote Control


If you have a garage with an open ceiling, then you can construct a wood beam out of three or four Douglas Fir 2 X 10's bolted together with staggered carriage bolts on 12" centres that will span the garage and sit on top of the garage walls. Add some 2 x 4 wall studs directly under the spots where the beam ends rest and you will have a very strong spot to anchor that winch. You can then lift the front of the tractor off the ground until it is nearly vertical. Set up some sort of safety-chain system that will support the tractor should the cable break or the winch fails. You may have to drain the fuel and the engine oil to carry out this process but look at the advantage of being able to access the bottom of your tractor without having to lay on your back or risk life and limb. And the other good part is that it takes up no space in your garage and it will lift any LT or GT you buy.

#8 DouglasFir OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 03:53 PM

Thanks for thinking of safety issues olcowhand. I'm the new kid on the block here as I just joined last night so I completely understand your concern about making sure someone doesn't work under a raised jack. I did try your idea of a rolling floor jack but my Craftsman tractors don't have enough space to put that under the front (or back), raise it up and then have enough room to put a jack stand in the center, let alone two jack stands. I could only put a jack stand on one side of the front axle and that didn't seem too sturdy.

You're probably right JD that the concrete wall idea is at least as expensive as those mojack gadgets.

What do you guys do to work under your riding mowers? Taking the deck off seems awfully complicated and even then, I'm not sure it would be that easy to work on the steering gear.

#9 Sam OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 03:53 PM

I am maybe lucky in having an I beam over my shed that i hang a couple of pulleys off, just lift up the tractor and roll the workbench under it, then lower, chock wheels and its at the perfect working height. As for farm jacks excellent bits of kit with a multitude of uses but as mentioned, they can bite.

#10 DouglasFir OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 04:14 PM

A winch sounds like a good idea hydriv. Doesn't the tractor wobble around though since its basically supported in just one place with one cable? I'd think when I push hard on a wrench, the entire tractor would swing.

#11 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 04:25 PM

If I had that 28 X 48 shop I hope to build and was going to work on GT's a lot I would get one of those Motorcycle lifts that raises the mower up to about waist high and reduces all the stooping. Maybe Some day?

Even with the winch, which is a good idea you should have jack stands so your not relying on that cable to save your hide and eliminate wobble.

#12 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 04:28 PM

Winches dont have brakes. Overhead Cranes do. If you use a winch overhead, and something fails, down it all comes. If you use an overhead rated job, and it fails, the brakes should hold or give you the chance to get out from under it.

#13 DouglasFir OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 04:37 PM

I was looking at Harbor Freight's motorcycle lift but not sure if the two arms that go under a motorcycle would be in the right spot for a garden tractor. The nice thing about a lift like this versus the mojack is that this lift could be used for other things than tractors. It's cheaper too. I currently don't have a truck so can't get it home and my local Harbor Freight doesn't have one setup so I could measure everything and see if it would work with my Craftsman tractors.

High Position Motorcycle Lift

#14 hydriv OFFLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 05:05 PM

A winch sounds like a good idea hydriv. Doesn't the tractor wobble around though since its basically supported in just one place with one cable? I'd think when I push hard on a wrench, the entire tractor would swing.


You could position the winch so that the tractor ends up against one wall once it is fully raised. It would NOT be difficult to put a couple of tie rings into that wall on either side of the tractor and just rope the tractor against the wall to keep it from moving while you are working on it. Electric impact guns are not an expensive item at Harbor Freight and there are also cordless impact drivers that will cut down on the need for open end/ box end wrenches.

Platform style Motorcycle lifts take up valuable real estate in your garage and while they get the tractor off the floor, access to the deck for cleaning or changing blades is still a problem. They also cost more than the winch does. If you are looking at this one.....

High Position Motorcycle Lift


then you will have to weld up a new set of lift arms to go under the tractor or you won't have access to the deck. And isn't deck access a good part of the reasoning behind this thread?

Most garden tractors do not exceed 1000 LBS in total weight and most lawn tractors weigh in at less than half that figure. When you lift the front of any of these tractors off the ground, you are slowly transferring the horizontal weight that is on the front wheels to the back wheels. By the time you have the tractor vertical, the winch is only lifting about ten pounds. I would not worry about the cable breaking since it has a rating of 3000 LBS minimum. And if you read my post again, you will see that I suggested installing a safety chain or two just because it's the right thing to do. Since the tractor is standing vertical, you are never truly "under" it. With the winch cable holding it vertical plus one or two vertical safety chains along with it being roped against a wall, I think that you have met all the necessary safety requirements.

Even safety stands have been known to fail. Block walls can crumble, steel beams can bend. It's all about risk assessment. Either the risk is high, medium or low. Working under a car supported by a bumper jack is high risk. Using Jack Stands would be low risk but it isn't "no risk".

Edited by hydriv, July 08, 2011 - 05:13 PM.


#15 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted July 08, 2011 - 06:25 PM

I jack one end up with a rolling floor jack, then slip car rims, or GT rims under the tires, then do the same on the other end. You can use 2 different size rims to stack them on top of one another to get 2 rims under each tire. They will not roll or tip off this system either. If stacking, make sure the top rim fits just inside the lip of the lower rim.
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