A simple clamp-on brush fork for the tractor bucket

Intro

This is going to be the year I finally make good headway in cleaning up the old orchard in the back yard. It's been long neglected from it's days as a commercial orchard nearly 30 years ago, and it's time to turn it into a more useable, maintainable space.

Doing that required cutting out a lot of dead and useless vegation, and that required hours of stick dragging. At least if I build a brush fork I won't have to drag huge piles at a time by hand to the disposal area.

The tractor bucket is pretty small and not rated to lift much. These old Yanmar tractors saw a lot of service in small rural farms in Japan and were never designed for loaders, but some clever folks who restore these things for resale overseas tapped into the PTO hydraulics and made it work. Great design really, but as I can't lift much over 500 pounds with the bucket I won't need to build the brushfork to take much weight either. Not that a loose pile of sticks weighs that much anyway.

So it's off to the steel rack behind the shop to see if I can find enough materials to build a quick brushfork in an afternoon.

Layout and fitup

cutting pipe
So first was to cut some 1.5" galvanized tubing to length and put some 45 degree ends on them. I might have to weld some caps on either end to deny the local wasp population yet another home.

Next I started the layout on the ground. The back end will be a piece of 1/4" angle and a piece of 1/4" flat bar will run across the top just in front of the bucket lip.
layout
Getting the rest of the tines squared up and tacked in place. I was just using cinder blocks and some larger steel chunks to hold things in place while welding.
tacking the forks on

Then it was time to fit it up to the bucket. I drilled and tapped some 1/2" thick bar for two 1/2-13 bolts and this will be the pinch clamp that gets welded onto the forks. I left the angle iron in the back of the forks sticking out behind the bucket a bit in case I need some stronger attachment at the rear, but I'm hopeful this will be stiff enough. The leverage of the load pushing down on the forks will cause the tubing to push up against the bottom of the bucket, so it should be sound. drilling the clamps
Fitting and clamping to bucket.
fitup on sawhorses

Now I can start fitting the tabs in place for clamping to the bucket. After welding I found out that only one bolt per tab was necessary. One provides enough clamping pressure, and it's just flexible enough that if you do tighten a second bolt down, it lifts the tab enough the first bolt becomes pointless.

tacking tabs

Forks complete

completed forks
The brush fork is now complete and mounted up. It feels solid, each tube seems like it will take a lot more weight that I first thought.

Time to make a run into the pasture to test

Approaching the pile.
fork test front
Looking good, easy pickup if I can keep from sticking a tine in the ground. This sure beats dragging piles and piles of brush by hand.
fork test side

Hard to compare the ammount of progress made so far though a camera lens, but take it from me this view of a tunnel of overgrowth was totally impassable when I started. You couldn't even walk up to the far end. Progress should go much faster now that I've got a more effective way of moving cut branches.
pathway is cleared