100% Protection With A Custom Tractor Skid Plate
When I was looking at the Massey Ferguson 4707 tractor, I loved the fit and finish and general specifications. I knew it was the one until I looked underneath and saw all the little pipes and fittings exposed under the cab. There I saw lots of pipes and hoses I knew would be a constant battle to keep from getting torn off when working off-road.
How Much Does a Tractor Skid Plate Cost?
I paid $1800 in 2019, pre-Covid. I would expect it to cost about $2500 in 2021-2022. The steel alone is probably $1,000. CNC cutting another $500 and labor to weld and mount it being the rest. Keep in mind a custom tractor skid plate will require several people just move it. I was present during installation but I would think cutting and mounting the struts before adding the plate is the best way to handle it. With the struts in place, the plate can be lifted and tack welded.
Where Did I Have It Done?
The guys at Ocala Tractor in Ocala Florida worked with a local welder to get it done.
What Would I Do Differently?
The only big change would be to have it done on a CNC machine. You can see in the images it was cut with a plasma cutter or cutting torch. A CNC will give you nice clean edges and can even bevel the edges for a great look.
- I would make bigger openings under drain ports for easier maintenance.
- I would not extend it as far back so grass cuttings would not build up. It would also be lighter and less expensive if 12″ shorter.
- I would increase the gap between the engine and plate. Today grass gets caught in the space and it is hard to blow out. A 3-4″ gap would make cleaning faster.
- 3″ lip at 45 degrees on the front would reduce debris going between the tractor skid plate and the tractor.
The tractor skid plate needs to well thought out since it is custom and heavy when doing the installation. The diagram below shows the basics. Think about everything you want to access from below and create an opening if it does not risk what is above it. Lowering the plate to do work is not going to be fun.
Consider welding a hitch receiver to the front bottom to mount a winch or shackle to for recovery. Both have practical farm applications.
A lip on the leading edge to block debris would reduce the mess that accumulates on the plate. If cut on a CNC machine this will be very easy to do. The lip should be about 3″ and angle up at about 45 degrees. The hitch receiver would mount to the bottom of the skid plate. Since it is heavy steel it should survive anything you hit. If you want to get fancy and have enough room, cut an opening or leave a gap in the lip to mount it on top of the skid plate.
The steel used is 1/2″ thick for the skid plate and struts. I felt this was needed for a 75 hp, 9,000 lbs tractor.
You need cutouts for the wheels to turn. Leave a little extra room especially if you have old tire with low treads. Mid the max range when turning and add a little more.
Debris Cutouts (not shown)
In the diagram you will see 3 rectangular cutouts. The debris tends to build up in the areas depicted. I recently had those added when having other work done. I anticipate sand and grass will fall through more easily on its own or when hosing out underneath. Since there is nothing “fragile” toward the back of the tractor, there is no known risk to adding these. You can also consider removing the corners of the plate as seen in the image below to provide more access to the backend. Taking 12″ off the back would still provide the protection but not capture so much debris.
The struts have to be robust. If the struts bend you will have a job on your hands. Make the struts long enough to leave about 3″ of clearance so it is easy to clean debris and maintain air flow for cooling. Mine is a little tight. Use high grade 1/2″ bolts or larger.
This picture really shows the outcome. Anyone considering this can see the benefit of a smooth surface like this protecting the tractor and adding a lot of ballast below the axles center of gravity. I’ve run over 4″ and they just glide under the tractor.
Other Benefits of a Tractor Skid Plate
Aside from protection, the next big benefit is ballast very low on the tractor. The plate mounts below the axles so it is a low as you can possible go. You lose a few inches of clearance this way but the benefits outweigh the lost clearance if you do bush hogging and land clearing work.
If you operate in muddy areas like we do in Florida around Chiefland, Cedar Key, Ocala and Tampa, the skid plate reduces the mud that packs under the tractor. Packed mud can lead to several issues from over heating to strong suction if you get stuck. The smooth under belly will help hold the tractor above the mud making recovery easier with a smooth surface.