An equation of variables.........

While helping a friend-of-a-cousin last summer, the friend's front loader bucket had its hooks welded to the top of the rear of the bucket - 3 of them (1 at each side and 1 in the center - facing towards the operator.
In addition to using the chains by themselves, the friend had a self-designed boom that he'd made of 3" pipe, about 3' of 3"x1/4" C-channel [welded into a "T" at one end] that went over the scraper edge of the bucket and was held in place by a length of chain going from a hook on top of the pipe to the two corner hooks on the bucket. For additional support, another length of chain went from a pair of hooks on the pipe to the center hook on the bucket. Additional hooks on the bottom of the pipe were used to keep the lifting chain from slipping.
While this may be a common application, I, personally, hadn't seen one quite like it.
The friend used the boom to lift wall sections of metal buildings so that they could be turned over and welded on what, till then, had been the underside.
These walls, BTW, were framed in 4"x4"x1/4" box tube with 2"x4"x1/4" "studs".
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My neighbor came to me today to ask that I weld a couple of grab hooks onto
the bucket of his Massey Ferguson front end loader so they can use chains in
certain circumstances, just linking them into the welded on hooks.
The hooks appear to be cast, yet I don't believe they are metallurgically
the same as most cast iron as I have used these grab and slip hooks on
chains, and have had them deform, but not snap like real cast iron would.
Now, where I'm going to weld the hook to ...........
A while back, I burned a hole in my BIL's bucket to mount a trailer ball to
facilitate moving things around that had a hitch. There were two layers of
material, and the topmost thin layer burned in a very weird way. I was able
to punch the 1" hole through both pieces, but it was touch and go as to what
the outcome would be.
I'm wondering if this is going to be a funny situation with the grab hook
being of a cast metal, the metal in the bucket being metallurgically odd,
and the 7018 not doing the deed.
I have not seen the piece of machinery yet. I know I'll select a spot that
I think is just plain steel, and weld it there. If it is plain steel, a
7018 should give me a nice stout weld on a grab hook to hold up to pulling
fence posts, and light loads this will be intended for. I know not to trust
welded on grab hooks for anything critical, being an old crane operator. I
already told him not to worry, if one hook broke off, we'd just weld another
on there.
Insights, caveats, opinions, and other welcome. I don't foresee any big
problems, but thought I'd run it up the flagpole before I do it.
Thanks as always.
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There are "weld on" grab hooks, sold for just this purpose. See page 1403 of McMaster Carr catalog (available on the web). Also see
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I think that graded hooks are not cast iron. At least the decent ones like Crosby, etc are steel or alloy steel.
Here's the Crosby catalog:
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The ones from McMaster are rated and include welding instructions. $40 is not that much for some certain knowledge and peace of mind.
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Lots of better quality machinery uses cast (or forged) steel, that at first glance may appear to be cast iron. A grinder spark test can be used to tell the difference but the results are hard to interpret, IMHO a better and easier to interpret test is to try cutting with an OA torch, cast steel will behave quite differently under a cutting torch than cast iron will.
The steels used in the bottom and cutting edges of a dirt bucket can vary a lot and can be very tricky to weld, some tip adapters are best welded with stainless rod as it is great for welding weird and special AR type steels and adapters. However, I suspect that you will be welding the hooks to the upper sides or back of the bucket and these are usually plain or AR plate and in fact may be T1 instead of true AR plate as it is very hard and will wear almost as well as true AR plate but can be easier to weld. I would not expect much in the way of exotic material in a bucket on a MF as these are pretty much farmer machines but YMMV.
The hooks are probably forged steel but may be heat treated. IMHE, they can usually be welded to bucket steels using 70, 80, 90, 100 or 11018 but some preheat will be beneficial. Do not weld them very cold or very hot and a little post heat to slow the cooling can also be beneficial.
As an old crane operator you know that we should (almost) NEVER lift with chain and should use cables whenever possible. On the jobs I work on you WILL be fired for lifting with chain. Real lifting chains are very specialized pieces of equipment and subject to strict inspection and usage regulation. They are quite different from decking or (shudder) hardware chain. I would far rather see you welding on a piece of plate with a hole for attaching a shackle. The plate will be far easier to get a great weld on and will have more length for a good strong weld. You can not stop haywire (or ignorant) workers from using chain for lifting if they are determined to do so, but you should make it easy for them to use cable slings instead. The safety advantage of cable over chain is substantial and IMHO use of chain should be discouraged whenever possible.
I understand that the customer is the boss and if they want chain hooks then they are the ones who will be paying for the installation and responsible for their use (unless the weld fails). I do think that you should offer alternatives that will be safer and I would note on your invoice that the chain hooks were contrary to your advice. CAUTION, there may be local OH&S regulation that demands certification or an engineers stamp on installation of lifting equipment (or equipment that could be used for lifting).
Good luck, YMMV
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40 yrs ago or so we had a blacksmith weld some hooks on a bucket. We asked for that same setup & he talked us out of it. He welded all three *inside* the bucket. His reasoning was that if we got a little pull happy & a chain broke, the bucket would catch the pieces instead of the operator.
I don't remember us ever breaking a chain- but maybe because it wasn't as dramatic as it could have been.
Our objection was that we thought the hooks might interfere with digging or get broken off while digging. I don't remember either of those things happening, either. But then it was 40 yrs ago.
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Jim Elbrecht
My experience was in the Gulf of Mexico in the boom days of the 70s. One of the BEST lifting tools we had was one inch four strand rope that we would get from rig builders. If you have some scaffold boards to lift, there's nothing better if they're loose than a larks head on the hook and a timber hitch on each plank. Yeah, we used slings most of the time, just because they were plentiful, but for lots of occasions we would vary from the rules particularly when we were well within safe load limits.
This was in the days before all the neener neener OSHA stuff, and besides, OSHA does not apply in international waters. We did have safety trainers, but they were back at the beach. On the job, the directive was "Git it" and that meant to get your task done any way you could and live through it. We did some hairy stuff, believe me. And then, when it was super heavy or dangerous, we always overdesigned and designated routes each would take to flee the area.
I've seen old stuff lift safely, and new stuff fail. The only thing you can do is rig it up good (notice I didn't say RIGHT) and then watch closely. And sometimes what is "right" isn't practical for some reason. That's when having enough experience comes in and you improvise.
I worked in my father-in-law's rig building team for about a year. Derrick erection. It was all done with one inch four strand reverse lay manila rope that was special made. Only time we used slings was when we were using a tugger on the floor for some reason.
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