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 AWS/4X4 project start......

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teledyne4
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PostSubject: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:50 pm

Hi All,

I've just acquired a complete Peerless 930 complete with steering components & wheels for construction of my utility tractor. I 'll soon have the tractor,a NOMA Craftsman with the same trans-axle,less engine as the basis for this build,year unknown,probably mid-late 90's ).

I've been researching the various 4X4 builds on the 'Net that many of you are familiar with ,in order to get a better understanding of what's involved and what the advantages & disadvantages/limitations of the finished vehicle will be.

The builds that I have seen all appear to be very simple and straightforward. Unfortunately,there aren't many examples to view,and the builders haven't shared a great deal in the technical details of their project.

My purpose for building a AWS4X4 will be to pull the 50” trail mower that I just completed last month(modified Dixie Chopper deck/12HP B&S). I'll be mowing pastures and a few miles of graded horse/dirtbike trails as well.

I think that the AWS feature will be be required simply because of the limited rotational arc of the steering knuckles. I intend to leave the Peerless units stock,because I think that locking the rear unit would have significant negative effects on steering. So far,I've read complaints about a lot of effort required to turn a 4X4 tractor,due to the torque and UV joints (versus CV joints). I'm not too concerned about a higher steering effort at this point.

Another consideration will be to disengage the front T-axle when not required-I may do this,if there is adequate room for the required parts.
Another option to consider will be the addition of a pivoting front axle-looks very easy to do;just a few inches of articulation will certainly improve traction and any belt twist over the length of the frame would be minimal.I've not seen a AWS4X4 with this feature....yet.

Again,my application for the AWS4X4 will be utility,not hard romping that would definitely test the tractor far more than my purposes. Therefore,I feel that my AWS4X4 would last quite a while using it the way I plan to.

Tires/wheels- at this point I plan to use the NOMA rims all the way around,with chevron 'ag' tires on all rims. I have to find out which tires will fit properly. I'd like to use 20x10x8 rims on the rear,20x8x8 rims on the front,if possible. For traction and stability,I'll fill all tires with RimGard beet juice(I have this in the tires of my ATV-great stuff).

So,that's my plan,good,bad,crazy or whatever.........I have my own modern,well equipped machine shop for the construction.

So,please feel free to make suggestions,offer ideas. I hope that other AWS4X4 or 4X4 tractor owners/builder will join in.

Sam
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sat Dec 03, 2016 11:10 pm

I know you're not concerned about steering effort... but maybe you could find an aftermarket steering kit for a john deere (behlen made them, as they did most aftermarket jd stuff). Power steering on a mower would be pretty sweet, especially with aws!
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sat Dec 03, 2016 11:55 pm

A little articulation up front will help a lot. Maybe cage the trans case in so it cant twist, and use seat springs and trac bars to keep it in place.

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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:14 am

Nice project! Looking forward to it taking shape. Are you going for the sleeper look or something more 'out there'?
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PostSubject: RE:AWS4X4   Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:57 pm

Good question MatthewD.In the beginning I intended to use the Craftsman LT that I'm about to acquire;however,I'm now looking at several different garden tractors instead. Reasons are- Better appearance(IMO) and a real chassis versus a stamped 'pie-pan' type.

Fortunately,several of my friends have lots of old GT's to choose from(Sears SS,JD 100/200 series,Bolens,Simplicity,Wheel Horse,etc.)
A GT chassis would provide more area to mount components in & on,also. More time will be required in the construction if I use a GT,but there are more benefits as well.

The down side,in one respect will be attaching weaker trans- axles (Peerless 930's) than the GT was originally intended for....but,again,I'll be mowing,etc.,not plowing,so it should be up to the tasks........
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:08 pm

930s are a pretty strong trans. Only axle that would be better is the MST series, which the 930 AWS components are compatible with, allowing you to make an MST AWS.

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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:23 pm

Doug Fackler wrote:
930s are a pretty strong trans. Only axle that would be better is the MST series, which the 930 AWS components are compatible with, allowing you to make an MST AWS.

I think 920 is better than 930. Heavier bull gear. MST trumps both
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:08 pm

i will tell you right now those knuckles are not made to support weight,so your plan to run a garden tractor frame might such as a ? cub cadet, wheel horse, suburban? might not be the best of ideas. they are weak cast aluminum and king pins dont even have bushings in them, also the knuckles use a two bolt system to hold on the steering arms and i have already stripped out two knuckles which are useless now unless you heli coil them to accept larger bolts, which make them even more weak. as far as added difficulty steering, it actually seems easier to turn at times as long as you are moving. i built my chassis strong and so that it cannot flex, i did not want to have to deal with belts popping off or cracking a casing from flexing. if you can figure out a way to get atleast one of the axles to flex reliably that would be best, before i locked my rear axle, with no flex a 2x4 could stop my 4x4 in its tracks at slow speed..... sad i know right? what happens if you hit a rut or a rock in the trail and you get stuck because you have one wheel peel front and rear not touching the ground? that is the down fall of no one figuring out a reliable way to put suspension onto a transaxle. just thoughts before you go ahead and start building, you honestly might be better off with a locked garden tractor with either large ag style tires or a high aggressive atv tire, and a winch to get you unstuck if youre going to be using it for work, there is just alot less moving parts for something to go wrong
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PostSubject: RE:AWS4X4   Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:45 pm

Regarding the 920 & MST versus the 930,I'm not at all familiar with either of those units...What I'm facing here with this project,given the ' NLA' status of some of the major components, is making use of what I have and can find..... I certainly don't like working under those conditions,where components are well used(abused) and scarce as well-that's a recipe for aggravation and maybe failure.

Another obstacle to overcome is the lack of information provided by those who have successfully built a 4X4-beyond the few videos found on YouTube,(and there's damn little technical 'meat' in those),I've not found anything else.
An additional unwanted expense with this project will be replacing all four U-joints on both T-axles ($115 per, MTD p/n 320531MA),not to mention whatever else I may discover when opening the cases......

There's reason why all of those AWS LT's have been 'long gone' for the past 20+ years-we're all aware that they were a weak design that couldn't tolerate much abuse/neglect.(The exception being JD,with it's "X" line of products,that are engineered & manufactured to a much higher quality (and price).

In addition to mowing the trail network,I'll also be mowing large sloping areas where a wide track is most desirable; unless I'm overlooking something,a LT's center of gravity would be lower,and it's track would be wider than a GT,making it a better vehicle for mowing on berms/slopes.

IMO, the best AWS4X4 build would utilize the JD X304 ,with a 2nd matching Tuff Tork T-axle up front. JD produced them from '07-'15,and used X304's are still expensive for such a 'BS Build' as what I'm wanting to do.......The ironic thing is,that 3 months back I sold a pristine X304 to buy a new X394-if I'd had this AWS4X4 'pipe dream' then,I might have used it for the project.


Keep your ideas and experiences coming-good stuff- positive or not,it's beneficial.........and,you just might point me in another direction (or project).
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:32 pm

I agree on a heavyweight GT not being a suitable base for a 4x4. If you could find 2 MST's then swap round the components it may be able to stand a little more abuse but the weak link is the AWS knuckles. In the past I have thought on fabricating up a set of really heavy duty knuckles for a 4x4 build but never got the parts/money/time.

I would recommend trying to use 2 MST trans, but the structure of the 920/930 is pretty similar to the MST series. Just in case you don't know, the MST series consists of 4 transaxles. MST 203, MST 204, MST 205, and MST 206. 3 speed, 4 speed, 5 speed, and 6 speed.

Btw, anyone know if there ever was a AWS 800 series trans?
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:37 pm

@MatthewD wrote:
the MST series consists of 4 transaxles. MST 203, MST 204, MST 205, and MST 206. 3 speed, 4 speed, 5 speed, and 6 speed.

Btw, anyone know if there ever was a AWS 800 series trans?

I think they had a 202 as well.

I dont think so, I think they were all 930s excluding the MTD variant.

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PostSubject: RE:AWS4X4   Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:49 pm

Doug & Matthew,

OK.....Then is the 930 so weak that I should shelve it,and seek the other T-axles that you've mentioned? I can certainly do that. Can you tell me how/where the MST's are superior ? I've read that the 820's are better-1" shafts w/ ball bearing support.
Once again,based upon what I've seen on YouTube,those 4X4 LT's are using 930's for mud/off-roading;I would expect failures when subjecting well used components to stresses and grit they were never designed for.
I'm not doubting anyone comments about there being better T-axles than the 930's,but I do feel that for mowing,they would give good service......

Regarding the use of a GT chassis,it's really not necessary for my application- a 'pie-pan' will work and make things simpler in some respects.

Sam
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:05 pm

@teledyne4 wrote:
Doug & Matthew,

OK.....Then is the 930 so weak that I should shelve it,and seek the other T-axles that you've mentioned? I can certainly do that. Can you tell me how/where the MST's are superior ?
 Sam

the MST has factory oil lube where the 930 and 920 do not. Also, slightly better bracing over the differential IMO. I think the gears are interchangeable, please correct me if I am wrong. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:30 pm

For the use you are subjecting them too, the 930 itself will be more than fine. Certainly there are better transaxles out there, the MST series, 800 series, 820 are examples. The 820's are by far the best vertical shaft trans for lawn tractors. They come with 1 inch axles, full bearings all round, 3/4 inch input shaft, factory oil lube etc.

The main problem with using AWS knuckles is that they are very weak aluminum. For mowing/light off road use I'm sure they will be fine (within reason), but the added weight of a GT lump will shorten their life for sure.

Just putting a few ideas out there, I personally would love to see this done, and would try it myself if I had enough time/money/patience etc.
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:29 pm

If youre steady with a drill and welder, making knuckles for an 820 would be ideal.

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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:02 pm

Yeah, all you really need is some 1 inch keyed universal joints and make up some homemade hinges. Then connect them together and get steering rigged up.
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:01 pm

Fellas,
That's a tremendous amount of fabrication with a 820 for, IMO,very little advantage over the 920 w/ oem knuckles-I have a modern machine shop,making the task of doing that work far,far easier than it would be for most folks.....

A much better drive-train design would be utilizing 2 JD Tuff Torq 56 units w/their knuckles-if 'money were no object',as the old say goes......

So,then the possible choices for building a AWS4X4 include:

1) Peerless 930's w/ OEM aluminum steering knuckles-- Weak design,NLA new, finding used units difficult  , repair/rebuild as required,U-joints very expensive.

2) Peerless 820 w/ custom fabricated steering components- Strongest Peerless  T-axle available, but  requires custom built steering components for use as AWS.

4) Peerless MST Series T-axle w/ custom fabricated steering components

3) JD Tuff Torq 56 w/ cast iron steering components- - Excellent hydro T-axle w/ strongest OEM steering components available,very expensive.


Have I overlooked any other combinations?

Sam
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:11 am

I agree, I was just mentioning a possibility, it is too much work really just to get an 820 AWS. Would be cool to try though. In my opinion, the best combination for what you are planing on using this AWS/4x4 for is the MST Series with 930 knuckles, however you could use the 930 and AWS knuckles because mowing really is not hard and transaxles. What speed will this tractor be doing?

I think a pan frame would also be a better choice, easier to work on but will need some bracing etc.

The John Deere Tuff Torq axles would be the ultimate 4x4, but it couldn't go very fast, being a hydro if it's sped up it will burn out.
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PostSubject: RE:AWS4X4   Thu Dec 08, 2016 11:37 pm

MatthewD,
Speed? Well,honestly,I've not given that  much thought-yet-but I would say a range of at-least 4mph and  hopefully faster than that for travel purposes to the work area. I certainly don't see a prob with using 930's for my application,either. Granted there are better T-axles to use-if time and money are no concern-but then the builder is then making a silk purse out of a sows's @ss,as there are limitations to the vehicle that can't be overcome regardless of the $$$/effort spent.
Adding a second 930 increases the  LT's weight,requires a little more HP,but also divides the effort required,so there's less stress on both T-axles.

The trick is in finding  4 steering knuckle assemblies with U-joints not needing replacement because they're 20+ years old and  excessively  worn-good luck with that Laughing That's the reality of the situation,and why the few AWS4X4's built are done in such a basic fashion,as economically as possible-because the finished project  has a definite finite lifespan...Bummer.
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:31 pm

Yeah, as I've said before, at that speed and for light duties, a 930 will be more than adequate.

It is, as you said, the AWS knuckles are weak and worn out. If you could fabricate some new knuckles that are the same design/shape as the original ones, it may offer a solution.
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:44 pm

What if you were to cast your own bigger knuckles? Or machine billet ones?
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sat Dec 10, 2016 7:18 am

Yeah or that. Could also get heavier UJ's
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PostSubject: RE:AWS4X4   Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:45 pm

RE: Casting objects is beyond my shop capability,and stronger knuckles are from either forging or machining 6061 aluminium (which I can do). But ,I don't have a prob with using the OEM units;they're reasonably strong,have replaceable bronze bushings and kingpins.
The problem are the U-joints-every aws transaxle out there will have worn U-joints from either neglect or hours of use,particularly the right side as it's the  predominate drive side.
Those U-joints are difficult to find and outrageously overpriced-there's no doubt in my mind that everyone who has built a AWS4X4 is using worn U-joints that came with the two T-axles because they didn't want to pay $400-500 to have new ones in their build........I don't blame 'em......However,I don't use worn parts in any project,so I'm going to shelve this project until (if) I find U-joints at a reasonable price,then,I'll proceed.
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:05 pm

couldn't you build some new ones? it couldn't be that hard....
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PostSubject: Re: AWS/4X4 project start......   Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:10 pm

Welding new steel joints might be the best, cheapest, strongest option.

A lot of 4x4 builds only utilize one steer axle and use a static rear. 4x4x4 is overkill really, as seen by the Quadtractor production numbers.

And as CQ said, you might be able to rebuild the joints. Since they arent used in a super high torsion application all you would need is new seals and needles, which could probably be salvaged from a similarly sized 3/4" ujoint.

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