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Electric to Hydraulic Conversion?

Discussion in 'Western Plows Discussion' started by Epartsman, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. Epartsman

    Epartsman Junior Member
    from PA, USA
    Messages: 3

    Hello All,

    I'm new here, but I feel like I've exhausted my Googling skills searching for some answers...

    I have an unusual setup with my older Western plow. The adaptation was done by a previous owner, but I have a Pro-Plow (Uni-Mount I believe). It is attached to the front of a Fordson Super Major diesel tractor.

    Everything works well with one exception.. which has been bugging / eluding me for years...

    The plow kills the battery and the alternator...

    Finally, this year I started to really consider what is going on. I've concluded that the plow motor draws so much current that it flattens the battery. The alternator is 55A and is simply not enough to supply the current to run the plow motor, so it goes up. This leaves me with no battery and no alternator to charge the battery... That leaves me with a dead battery, which, when I try to use it to re-start the tractor (it's a diesel BTW) leaves me nowhere. The rating for the engine to start @ 32*F is 1050 CCA BTW.

    I did some research and I can't find a reasonable solution from an alternator / battery setup to solve this problem. By reasonable I mean less than ~$600 for an alternator and adding a second battery.. which mechanically would be a challenge.

    I think I have a good idea, but trying to get information out of the folks at Western is like pulling teeth. I'd like to know more about the motor on the pump. How fast, what direction, how much "HP" it is. I had asked initially for some indication of how much current it draws.. the e-mails have gone silent...

    My thought is this. To convert the motive force from the electric motor over to a hydraulic motor. If I can find out enough information about the pump motor, I can mount up a hydraulic motor to drive it. I have auxiliary hydraulics on the tractor that I can route into a hydraulic motor. I can use the same control signal to activate a selinoid driven valve to run the 'new' motor directly from the joystick to make the conversion simple.

    So all that to ask this:

    - Has anyone done this and are you willing to share information about what the hydraulic motor requirements are, or what motor works for you?

    - Does anyone out there happen to know what the specs are for this motor so I can 'cross' the requirements over to a hydraulic unit?

    - What about the possibility of somehow tapping into the hydraulic system, eliminating the pump and motor and using my tractor hydraulics to drive the plow?

    Thanks for taking time to read this. I hope someone out there might have information to help guide the conversion.

    Thank you in advance.
  2. twinman326

    twinman326 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,683

    I am not really familiar with tractors.

    But I do know that a charging system must receive a signal from the voltage regulator to recharge the system. Before you decide to invest in some changes I would recommend checking the following, and I will recommend some help.. It would be your choice to take my recommend into consideration.

    A) check your ground cables (even on the plow motor). Make sure they are clean, and making clean and good contact.
    Recommendation, add a ground wire from the engine, to the frame

    B)Check the battery to make sure it can hold a charge.. Do a load test, this will tell what going on. Same thing with the alternator, make sure it is charging.
    Recommendation U can use a volt meter to test the alt. It should be charging at 14v with nothing on (no lights, signals (if you have any) heater (if you have one, heater) ,radio. Then check it with everything on and see if the alternator start to charge the battery.

    C) If the system is charging, change the charging wire to a larger wire (usually it is a 14ga wire), like a 12ga or 10ga wire. The larger the wire the better response.

    I understand it is a diesel . My concern is, how come it doesn't have a larger alt (better then 55amps) and two battery, instead of one battery?
    Using a second battery, you can just use it for the plow (just remember both batteries should be new and the same cranking amps).

    I don't know what kind of alternator your using, I am assuming it would be a ford alt? I would change the alt to higher amp out put.

    A) what kind of alt do you have?
    B) if you had to, can you install a second battery inside the engine compartment, or inside the seating area?
    C) how old is the battery?
    D) what is the charging system putting out now (using a volt meter) 12-14 volts?
    E) Internal, or external voltage regulator?
    F) battery cranking amps?
    G) Is the plow cable, or electric (solenoid valves)?
    H) have you check the plow motor to make sure it not binding?

    Here is some links for you to look at

    Vehicle electric (good site to read and learn)


    plow motor is a 12v, and between 150-200 amps
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  3. Epartsman

    Epartsman Junior Member
    from PA, USA
    Messages: 3


    Thank you for your reply.

    I'll try to address some of your questions.

    I've checked the grounding. It is good. In the style tractor that I have, the engine block is the 'frame' of the tractor so to speak. Think of it as an engine, transmission and diff with everything built upon it.

    The battery holds a charge well. It just is not being replenished by the alternator. A typical plowing session will take the battery from 100% charged down to 60% (per my battery charger's display) and that's being mindful of the use of the plow and no excessive use. I know that the alternator is shot, it is only measuring 12.17V at high idle.. any engine speed actually. I've replaced the alternator several times.. I believe that my original post explains why this is occurring. There is minimal lighting, and most times I'm not even using it unless I plow at night, but that is rare. So all 'accessories' were off if you will when I tested the alternator.

    The 'charging' wire from my alternator is a #8. Pretty large and substantial. Someone was at least trying to help the situation along.

    My belief is that the alternator is unable to keep the battery charged once the plow motor draws the battery too low. I believe that the charging requirement / motor requirement is killing the alternator. Especially once the battery is very low and the load wants to come directly from the alternator. It just gives up the ghost.

    Yes, there is only one battery. The original design (battery-wise) for this tractor was two six-volt batteries in series. When I got it there was only one huge battery in it, and that works well so long as one does not use the plow. :) This tractor was built in 1961, it's a no-frills machine. Heck, there's not even a horn on it. It has two headlights which are not for much account. The light kit on the plow gives considerably more illumination than the 'built-in' ones. No turn signals, no flashers, no radio, no heat, no AC. I've considered the two-battery approach, but, as I noted before, it would take a lot of mechanical work to find a place for it. And still, I'd be 'deep cycling' it each time I plowed... or, if it runs out of 'juice' then I've got a non-functional plow. That sucks, particularly when it's stuck in the down position. :)

    The alternator is a model 7127-3. I don't think it's a Ford-branded one. I talked to the manufacturer (Excel) about this situation and they told me that I was lucky to have the alternator last past the first engagement of the plow. This alternator is rated at 55A on a GAS engine, that is assuming higher RPM, so they indicated that output would be about 1/2 of that on the diesel at diesel RPMs. They suggested another possibility, the model 7294-3. This is rated at 94A but again only at GAS RPMs. Divide by two for diesel, per the manufacturer. This was why I was interested in the current draw, even average, for these motors, to see if the "94A" alternator would get me by. Based on your response, I'm thinking that it would be extra dollars but no real gains against a 150 to 200 A load. :(

    Responses to the list of questions:
    A - 7127-3 55A BTW the original was a 22A rated alternator.
    B - I've got no real place to install an extra battery without a bunch of mechanical work. There are no 'flat' areas around the driver's position, and the sheet metal basically puts a close wrap around the engine mechanicals. I can't even sneak a second 'big' battery in with the one that is currently there.
    C - Battery was purchased this summer. It's a yearly event, if not twice a year, depending upon how much plowing needs to be done. Getting my mileage out of the 'replacement' warranties.. some battery company out there 'hates' me. :)
    D - Currently the system is putting out 12.17V regardless of engine speed. I'm pretty well convinced that the alternator is shot and needs replacing again.
    E - Internal voltage regulator on this alternator. Keeps things neat and simple.
    F - Battery CCA @ 32*F 1050
    G - This is a cable controlled plow. Sorry I forgot to mention that in my original post.
    H - Plow motor does not seem to be binding. It whirs and the plow moves.. pretty quickly when the battery is freshly charged. I don't think there's any binding but I've not taken it apart and checked anything to be absolutely sure of that, I never had a reason to question the performance of the plow motor.

    Thanks for the links. I'll check them later tonight. And also thanks for the information on the current draw. I think that moves me more towards finding an alternative method of moving this plow around.

    As an aside. I've been reading how some of the older plows were completely hydraulic. If I could find a 'head' from that era that would work with my plow, that would probably be the simple solution, but I have no idea where to start looking, or if that would even work at all.

    BTW, here's a link to a photo of a tractor.


    The battery 'compartment' is tucked up under the 'hood' above the belt-drive pulley back against the fuel tank.

    Thanks again for the reply.
  4. bucky6981

    bucky6981 Member
    Messages: 70

    I might suggest you maybe just strap an extra battery on there just for plowing purposes, also change your alternator to a known good or new one and try to locate a smaller pulley for it so that it will spin faster to mimic gas engine speeds
    If all alse fails put a standard lift ram in place of the motor and use a four way valve with the tractors factory hydraulics....
  5. Epartsman

    Epartsman Junior Member
    from PA, USA
    Messages: 3


    Thanks. I've been considering the second battery. Just seems like I should be able to convert over to being able to use the tractor's hydraulic source.. somehow, I'm just not that familiar with the pump setup. I was hoping someone here might have insight.

    I've already reduced the size of the pulley to the smallest possible. Any smaller and I'll be wrapping the belt around the bare shaft. :)

    I'm trying to envision what you mean by 'put a standard lift ram in place of the motor and use a four way valve'.

    Can you elaborate?

    Thank you,
  6. Nasty-Z

    Nasty-Z Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    Have you considered swapping alternators to a later GM unit such as the CS-130 ? It is factory rated at 130 amps and should be more than enough to run your setup. It should not be much larger than your factory unit. You can find them in salvage yards on most newer GM cars and light trucks.

    CS-130 :


    You can swap the pulley to a V belt , mount it up and go.

    FWIW , I run a modded CS-130 GM on my small Kubota and had one on my old Massey Ferguson.

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  7. twinman326

    twinman326 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,683

    I would change the alternator to a higher amp. Looking at the picture of the alternator you have, it looks like a chevy alternator..


    Before or after the change of the alternator, check for a draw on the electrical system.. You can also use a test light to see if you do have a draw just by unhooking the positive wire from the battery, sticking the pointed end of the test light into the positive wire, and attaching the clip of the test light to the positive terminal of the battery..If the light glows (with everything off) then you have a short somewhere in the wiring..

    Diesel run on combustion. Glow plugs light up, heat the cylinder walls, and once the fuel is injected and compress, it runs.. It not like a gas engine were the coil if feeding (let say ) 2500volts to keep the spark going. And if you loose the spark it shut down..

    Your tractor in a way is no different then a (just example) truck..Truck have battery/batteries and a alternator for the charging system. A charging wire to charge the battery/batteries. Plow motors do draw, but not enough to shut the system down.. You only use the control to turn left, right or up for only 4-7 seconds

    Therefore, there is something else wrong somewhere.. Like I mention, I would change the alt..

    Take a look at the link I posted regarding the electrical/charging..

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  8. twinman326

    twinman326 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,683

    You can put those lights on the front of you tractor on a relay..The link I posted for you shows you how to do it..
  9. Tony350

    Tony350 Senior Member
    Messages: 546

    On your tractor do you have one set of auxilary hydraulics or two. If you have two you could simply use one for angling and the other for lifting. You would probably have to modify the lifting mechanism and get a ram just for that. If you have only one set you could use them for angling and only use the electrical for lifting the plow.

    I know you can run the new ultamounts with an under the hood hrydraulic system, but haven't seen one in person. My friends older plow (not a western) works this way. He has a mainfold for all the hydraulics once the pump is engaged by pressing a control in the cab, it opens the spool on the mainfold and the ram will move. He has it set up for his sander, auger, dump, and the plow. He did most of it himself. I almost think that would be the better way to go have your tractors auxilary hydraulics pumping fluid and when you hit the controller that would open the spool and your plow would move. Because if you simply find a hydraulic motor to run the snowplow pump at the right rpm and fit the valve body I think you would keep on having to engage the hydraulics or the plow pump would always be pumping. And would wear it out much faster.

    Thats why I think at $600 it would save alot of headaches and might not be that much more than cutsomizing it to work. Plus the tractor will start better with an upgrade electrical system.

    Sorry fro the long post, keep is posted on what you do. One of a kind projects are always fun to see.
  10. twinman326

    twinman326 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,683

    Just to let you know, your alt is to a muscle car use back in the 1978..

    ""10SI, 63 amp, at 3:00 (AC-DELCO # 321-39, Lester #7127-3)

    Tell the auto parts counter person that “The alternator is for a 1978, Chevy Camaro, 8cylinder 350engine, with air conditioning.”"

    You can actually put a sensing from the plug to the "Bat" in back of the alt, instead of it current location. Making it faster to charge the battery.

    Here is a photo
    sensing wire.jpg

    sensing wire.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011
  11. bucky6981

    bucky6981 Member
    Messages: 70

    I almost wonder if you couldn't use a Western angle ram to lift it using the tactors hydraulics. Jay