Almost 6 years ago , I was looking for an easy storage solution for my I-match and 3-point hitch. Of course you have to remove them to install the backhoe. But I also have one implement that's not I-match compatible, so it was needed here, too. And, maintenance of the tractor is much easier when all this stuff is removed.
I needed something mobile because space is limited in my garage. I started looking at using the Heavy Hitch cart and weight rack. The idea was just to leave the I-match connected to the weight rack on the cart. I contacted Heavy Hitch and they assured me that their cart could easily handle the extra weight. So I started experimenting to see how this would work. I posted my initial solution on the Heavy Hitch forum. Since then, this forum was removed when Heavy Hitch ceased to be a site vendor. The original post
, along with some improvements, is still available. But, they are pretty hard to find. This post will provide links to make that information easy to find.
From the original post
, here's a photo of the initial solution:
There's an important safety issue with this solution that must be addressed. Without some additional features, the I-match is connected to the weight rack only by the latches on the lower connection points. If somebody inadvertently operates the latch levers, the I-match will be dropped from the rack. The I-match and 3-point arms probably weigh about 120 lbs, but I've added chain boxes with chains, so it could be close to 200 lbs. Besides the equipment damage, somebody's feet could be seriously injured. In my solution, I added the wooden blocks in the photo and used releasable cable ties to keep the levers from being operated. I also designed a block that prevented the I-match from disengaging from the top hook. This completed the double-safety protection on this solution. You can look at the original post
if you want to see more details.
Although the safety block does the job, it's a little clunky and time-consuming to use. So later when I was doing some maintenance to the weight rack, I added two holes below the hook point so that an easily-installable pin could replace the block. The photo below shows the additional pin just below the hook that keeps the hook from disengaging when it is present:
Details of this modification, including a drilling template, can be found at this post
As I used this storage technique regularly, I noticed another potential improvement. When disconnecting the lower arm on the tractor's right side, the PTO safety cover would just barely interfere with the removal. I would have to remove the arm at the I-match end, then lower it to clear the PTO cover, then reattach it at the I-match end for storage. This was awkward and tedious. So I modified the PTO safety cover to allow for clearance (with no loss of safety function for the PTO safety cover). The photo below shows this mod, and details are in this post
I've recently developed a tool to simplify and improve another aspect of this solution. Once you disconnect all the links to the tractor, you have a greasy octopus (okay, only 7 appendages) to try and tie up and control. The joints in these linkages are all very flexible, so everything tends to pile together and scratch paint. I initially solved this by putting plastic bags over each link to both keep the paint intact and the grease isolated. But this approach was time consuming and not really satisfactory. Living in a windy area, I found myself chasing plastic bags far too often. So the tool I created allows me to lift and separate all of the linkage arms. Each side can be handled independently, and when situated, nothing is touching the other parts. The next 3 photos show different angles of the new tool:
This is what the tool looks like when it's not installed:
The large shaft is sized exactly for the ball joint on the end of the lower arms. It couldn't be painted without over-sizing it, so it's stainless steel. The smaller shaft, used for the ends of the lift arms, is zinc plated. Although the lift arm openings are 5/8 inches, the angles are odd where the connection must be made and so the small shaft is only 1/2 in diameter. The small shaft is necessary to keep the lift arms from falling against the I-match frame when the cart is moving and crossing over expansion joints in the concrete.
The first few times I tried the new tool, I was surprised at how quickly everything falls into a very organized place. Each side can be hooked into the tool separately, so you don't have to deal with everything at once. You can connect into the tool directly as you remove the lower arms from the tractor. Because everything is separated and accessible, I can easily wipe it all down to remove any grease. And, as a a final precaution, I position it in my equipment stack so that the arms aren't easily accessible to rub against and get greasy, as shown below.
In the photo above, both of these ballast racks are sitting in the dead space of my FEL dolly. (The FEL and backhoe are currently on the tractor.)
I'm pleased with this storage technique. I can very quickly remove the 3-point with I-match and just roll it away to a small-footprint storage space. Re-installation is just as fast.