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260A Skip Loader Adventure

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Since this project has taken a few unexpected turns I thought I'd do a write up on it. Someone might find it helpful or interesting, and lets face it we all love pictures!

In April while I was working overseas I noticed that the price had been lowered on an IH 260A skip loader I had been admiring on Craigslist. I decided to take action and managed to get it bought with the agreement it could sit there until I got home and could go pick it up. The story was that the engine was stuck and it was on consignment for someone who had moved away and didn't want to haul a broken tractor with them. Supposedly had sat a couple years. I noticed that the muffler had no rain cap and was not covered with anything. I assumed I could haul it home and do an in-frame rebuild to get it going again. After doing a similar job recently on a D268 in my backhoe I was up for the challenge!


I got home from overseas in June and took a road trip to California, just north of Los Angeles to pick it up. Yup, you read that right... I drove 900 miles each way for this pile.

When I got there I was a little bummed that the tires that looked fair in the pictures were pretty much junk. One was off the rim and so deformed I had to have a pickup truck tire put on it to get it loaded, the other front tire had the whole center of the tread missing. It was a Hydro transmission, engine side panels were missing, left battery cover was missing, 3 point arms and lift links were missing, and the steering didn't work at all. You can usually spin the wheel fast and hard enough it will slowly turn, but not this one.

Good news was that it didn't look abused, was plumbed for a Gannon box, had rear wheel weights, no real damage besides missing parts and a stuck engine.

With the help of the seller's employee we got it winched up on my trailer, and started the journey to New Mexico.



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After the grueling 900 mile trek home I still wasn't sure how I was going to unload it since it didn't steer.  I decided to unload it a bit uphill and used the 510 Payloader to just "send it".



Thankfully it went smoothly with no carnage. The 260A rolled to a stop and sat there til I built up some ambition to start the project.

I power washed it off one evening and pushed it to a suitable spot for working on it. I sure wish I had a shop, but since it had been 105+ degrees out I used a sun shade. What a difference that made!


A IH 260A is built off the IH 684 AG tractor, or in my case a 84 Hydro since mine is a Hydro. It uses a IH Neuss D239 4 cylinder diesel engine. Knowing this helps a lot when sourcing parts and information.

I fought for an hour just trying to get the valve cover off due to the plumbing for the loader and hydraulics being right above it. I started noticing an abundance of orange silicone indicating someone had been in this engine before and they are the poster child of why you don't use too much silicone!



I finally got the head pulled off the engine, I expected to see a cylinder or two that was rusted up. But.... Thy cylinder walls were beautiful!  Although cylinder #2 had something right at the piston so I dumped some ATF in each of the cylinders and let it sit for a couple weeks, adding as needed.


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Sounds as though the fun is just beginning! Hope all turns out well!


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Thanks DWF! You are right! I'm in for a wild ride.

I removed the oil pan thinking I would find rust on the lower part of the liners, or maybe catastrophic damage on the bottom end, but it looked great! Although water did come out with the oil.

When I was trying to break the engine loose with a pry bar on the ring gear I noticed that someone had beat me to it and 3-4 teeth were missing on the ring gear... So... The engine was going to have to come out anyway to fix that. ?  So I started prepping the engine to come out. With all the hydraulic plumbing above the engine it was going to be a complex maneuver to get the engine out.

I occasionally took a block of wood and a large hammer and beat on the pistons in hope they would break loose. But nothing. Not even a budge.

Finally got the radiator, hydraulic cooler, water pump, accessories, and bell housing bolts out and engine was ready to pull. But I don't have concrete to use an engine crane, so the 510 Payloader lent a hand.


It was a difficult pull because I had no help and I had to keep repositioning the engine while running back to the loader controls for adjustments. Only one casualty though. I had the bottom end of the engine covered to prevent dirt from getting on the bottom end so I had forgot to remove the oil pickup tube, it got smashed against the front axle when the engine swung forward.

I removed the flywheel and drive plate. I continued beating on the pistons but nothing...   I decided to tip the engine on its end and just start disassembling it til it started to move. All 4 pistons were half way up or down in the bore which made removing the rod bolts and piston/rod assemblies very difficult. Cylinder walls looked great! Still has crosshatches visible! Lots of evidence of Bars-Leaks coolant sealer stuff ?.


After removing #4 rod I found the smoking gun. Someone had started this thing with water in the pan and ran it til it quit. #4 rod bearing spun and stacked, the mains took a little damage too.


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Made a trip to Colorado for work and took the crankshaft along in hopes someone in Colorado could grind it. Took it by Mile High Crankshafts and he said he could weld #4 journal and grind back to standard, and grind the mains one size undersized.

In less than a week he called and said its done. Very nice work and a very fair price. He even sourced me old stock Clevite bearings (back when they were USA made). He also helped me source a repair sleeve for the rear seal. It had grooved the crank.


I have a full gasket set, used #4 connecting rod, new water pump, and other misc parts waiting on me at home. Since I had seen so much stop leak in the cooling areas I ordered new liner seals and plan to knock the liners out to clean and reseal them. The original IH pistons and liners are in such good shape I don't see a reason to replace them with the lower quality aftermarket stuff available today. I plan to just hone them good and reinstall.

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  • 1 month later...

As with most of my projects I got carried away with this one too. Took the injection pump and injectors to the injection shop for testing and/or repair since I knew nothing about their history. Injectors all needed attention. Injection pump was a newer replacement so it only needed resealed.

Due to time constraints and some thick grease and dirt on the block and signs of Bars Leak in the cooling system I decided to take the block and head to the machine shop in Las Cruces for cleaning and inspection. I asked them to press out the liners for block cleaning and to replace the liner O-rings.

Found a net of NOS Case IH piston and liner kits so I decided to have the machine shop replace them. They suggested replacing the cam bearings because we are so close to a full rebuild, why not go all in. I told them that the manual said the cam bearings had to be line bored, but he found a set of finished bearings rather than the semi-finished bearings the manual talked about. #4 rod was stretched out of limits from the spun bearing, so I found a good used connecting rod from a salvage yard and a NOS piston pin bushing for #4.

A week later the machine shop had the short block ready. So I picked it up and started putting the rest of it together.




I had a couple spray cans of Case IH Ironguard Federal Yellow. Unfortunately I ran out before I was done and its super expensive to ship spray paint. Ugh!

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The machine shop called and said they were going to have to order new exhaust valves, and valve guides for the head. The engine is much easier to install without the head on because of the hydraulic lines and valve bodies on the tractor.


With the help of a friend and the 510 Payloader I got the long block installed. A bit of a pain because the valve body wont allow the engine to go back far enough to install without lots of pushing and prying.


Now to install the cooling system and accessories, and wait on the head at the machine shop.

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  • 1 month later...

After getting most of the machine put back together I got the head back from the machine shop.


The head looked great! They even replaced the one injector sleeve that had come out with the injector.

The head installed quite easily. However on this engine and my D268 it surprised me how much nastiness builds up on the head bolts. Old oil maybe? Kinda looked like soot. But i chased all the threads before installing and the installation went well. 


Then on to the rocker assembly, and setting valve lash.


Whatever IH engineer designed the loader plumbing above the engine didn't consider that someday the valve cover might need to come off and on. It took a pry bar and hammer to get the valve cover off, and back on. I didn't enjoy having to use such measures but it was the only way after trying for 2 hours.

If you notice in the lower right of the above picture I have installed the alternator bracket to convert the machine to a 10SI alternator from the Lucas. If you are interested in that information see this thread...


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  • 2 weeks later...

Got all the fuel system plumbing, linkages, and manifolds installed. Bled the fuel system. Finally ready to test start my rebuilt engine!

Turned the key and "click", "click", nothing....

Bypassed the key and put power to the solenoid with a jumper. "click", "click", nothing...

Pulled the starter and tested on the bench. Just "click".

Took it to my starter guy who got the same result on his bench tester. He took the starter apart and...




UGH!!!! That starter had been laying on the floor of the machine the whole time and I just assumed it was good! He said there wasn't much he could save but could probably fix it for $275. Since a new one was $450 + $50 shipping, I agreed.

And now we wait...

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 Well, got the starter back! Looks great! Says he was only able to reuse the housing, bendix, and the solenoid. Wasn't cheap but sure beat $500 for a new one. Was closer to $300 after tax.

Unfortunately when I went to install it I found that he had clocked the nose cone incorrectly and the starter wouldn't clear the frame. ?


Ugh! Back to the starter guy...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got the starter back, clocked correctly, fits perfectly! Got it installed and wired up to a switch and a brand new group 31 battery. Got ready for the first start and.... grind!!!  Try again, grind!!!!!  Ugh!!! ?

Removed starter, inspected everything, all looked great. Bench tested starter on the ground and everything looked to be working good. Sounded like the bendix was unable to engage the ring gear and was grinding against it. Swapped solenoid from my Farmall 856 and same result. Ring gear is brand new so I inspected it against the old one and all measurements through the starter hole looked perfect. Called around and verified bendix tooth count and gear diameter, all correct. I fought with this thing for days! I was stumped. ?

Until once while I was bench testing the starter on the ground for what seemed like the 20th time I noticed the starter was spinning counterclockwise(viewed from bendix end). According to my reading this is a clockwise starter. But which end do you look at to determine if its a CW or CCW starter? I would assume you would be looking at the bendix end. But in my search I determined that based on which direction the D239 engine is supposed to turn, and the angle on the bendix teeth, this starter is spinning the wrong direction and the grinding noise is the bendix ratcheting... Ugh!! ?

Called the starter guy and he spent 15 min on the phone trying to convince me that it was spinning the right direction, but he couldn't answer my question of what end do you look at to determine if its CW or CCW. He swore all the parts he replaced he used the part numbers I gave him(photo of factory IH parts book page).

Frustrated, I took the starter with me to Denver since surely they have a good starter shop that can answer my question and potentially fix the starter. I took it into a starter shop in Commerce City Colorado and they argued among themselves to answer my question of what end determines the CW or CCW rotation. Finally they agreed that it was observed from the bendix end as I had assumed. They said it probably just had the wrong field coil in it and they had the right one in stock. So I asked them to fix it for me. Two days later I went to pick it up and they had done a rebuild on it... Again... It was just rebuilt! UGH!!! Charged me $301 and said it had the wrong field coil and brushes in it. They showed me that it was now turning the correct direction now. But now I'm almost $600 into a starter I could buy new to my door for $500. ?

This thing better work now! ?

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Got home from Colorado and installed the starter. Cranked the engine over beautifully!! ☺️

Before trying to start the engine I decided that I better ensure the fuel system is primed, and check the status of the transmission oil since it's a hydrostatic transmission and it will start pumping oil (or whatever is in it)immediately.


Yea, I should have painted the head and valve cover but I ran out of paint. ?

I got the fuel system primed the best I could with the manual lever on the mechanical fuel pump. I checked the transmission dipstick and it was dry. I had two options. Drain the transmission and replace the filters and refill with Hy-Tran, or... Top it off with generic Tractor Supply transmission/hydraulic oil for starters until I know the condition of the transmission and flush with Hy-Tran and change filters later. To make this determination I drained a bit of oil out of the transmission to inspect for water and contamination. The oil that came out was very clean and no water at all. (any dirt you see was already in pan)


I decided to top it off with the cheap stuff and change it later after the transmission proves itself. It took 10 gallons to bring the dipstick to the full mark.

I stuck the old muffler off my Farmall 544 diesel on the exhaust pipe and attempted to start the engine. Witha little bit of cranking it fired off and ran pretty well. I loosely followed the break in instructions although I found a hydraulic leak and an injector line leak that I had to shut down for. Hydraulic leak was a loose fitting on the transmission. I tried tightening the injector line at the injection pump but it still leaked petty bad. I suspect the slight roughness is being caused by this.


After running the engine for a while to allow for some break-in to occur I attempted to drive it. Loader hydraulics bled and started working, steering came to life, and I depressed the "forward" pedal and it moved forward, then the "reverse" pedal and it moved in reverse. The "range" lever had been fairly limp since I picked it up but I tried to keep it in neutral for when we moved the tractor by pushing or pulling. The tractor drove well but it seemed that it was stuck in low range and the range lever did nothing but flop loosely. I drove it around for a bit and hit the brakes, the engine bogged down as it should with a strong hydro. Although I know it wasn't up to operating temp or warm.

Now I need to figure out the injector line leak which I suspect the line is cracked at the fitting. Some previous "mechanic" mangled the injector lines pretty bad. I also need to troubleshoot the range transmission. Looking at the parts book its a fairly simple setup. All external linkage looks to be moving properly. Looks like top needs to come off the differential to inspect.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got a shipment from the tractor salvage yard! Used injector line for cylinder #1, and 3 point hitch arms and pins.

Started Disassembling the rear end housing to find the problem with the range shift lever. Lots of hydraulic lines to remove to pull the top cover. Wish my power washer worked, this thing is a disgusting mess under the operator platform. 


Every hose I had to move or remove cracked bad, so I am having all new ones made while I'm in here. Capped all lines as I went to avoid contamination.


Anybody know what this line would do? Looks like it used to go to the valve body that controlled the 3 point tilt and angle. Its about 1/4" steel line, and connects under the right side rockshaft.


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Got the top off the rear end housing. I got to say I'm impressed with how clean it is in there!

The shift fork you see toward the front is the high/low shift mechanism. I took a pry bar and shifted it through Neutral, and high range. It was a little stiff but moved nicely. The lever on the outside of the housing did not move.


The mechanism you see below is what shifts the range fork. (nut removed in picture). Everything seemed to work properly inside, but when I removed the linkage outside I confirmed the problem. The shift shaft had broken where is passes through the housing. 


The outer part fell right off. Broke off at the O-ring groove. Thankfully the new shaft (405167R3), O-ring(226317), and housing cover gasket(538649R93) are readily available through Case IH.



I replaced the cover while I order and await the parts.


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Dan:  I can recommend Discount Hydraulic Hose for hoses.  i just replaced 3 on my HD9.  41 inch 3/4" diameter two wire hose with 3/4 male NPT on one end and 3/4" male NPT swivel on the other was $47.75 SHIPPED!  I had two more shipped Next Day Air for $106.66!  They were on my doorstep by 11am the next day!  Cheapest place around here was $79.00 and that was without the swivel!  They have any end you could want and are located in Philadelphia, PA.  If you need it today, pay the extra and get it locally.  If you can wait a little, as I am sure you can, save a lot and get it from them.


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Breaking that FWD/REV shift shaft is a common problem on the Doncaster, UK, built tractors by Operators forcing the FWD/REV lever.
The part could have been replaced by removing the MCV and shorting the handle on a wrench.
Check the parking brake band when you have the top off, another common problem with Operator driving with parking brake engaged.
The new models have a flashing light on dash to warn parking brake is engaged.

Everything looks nice and clean inside the trans/diff.
Like your 444 or 384 or what ever model number is on the panels of that Bradford, UK, built tractor with the hoist on it.


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Rawleigh thanks for the tip on the hose source! I may try them next time I need some made. Seem to have good prices.

When I saw that Messick's stocked 5+ of them I wondered if this was a common problem.

Hadn't thought of trying to get to it from the MCV. May try that if there is a "next time".

Thanks! Its a 384. Been a good tractor but an absolute money pit. I should have just bought a nice one for the amount I have in this one I saved from its demise. I replaced my Ford 9N with it. Much better running, better hydraulics, more power, and only slightly bigger so its still easy to transport.

While I wait on the parts to arrive I decided to clean up and reinstall the rusty mess of an air cleaner. A lot of sanding, some primer, and a couple coats of Case IH Federal Yellow Ironguard paint. 


But even after that was all prettied up I still had another issue. The original hose connecting the air cleaner to the intake was oil soaked, cracked, melted, and taped up. Unfortunately I did my searching and found nothing.


However I did find a solution! There are universal silicone turbo and intercooler hoses for tuner cars and I was able to match up a couple pieces I can trim for a close fit!


Success! I even got the rubber unloader valve for the air cleaner housing ordered with the other stuff.


I was a bit concerned with the new hoses I had made. The inside diameter of the new fittings looks smaller. Even though they are the correct fitting. Unless the originals neck down further inside where I cant see. The new hoses are Gates brand, which is one of the big names. From what I understood the -(dash) numbers in hydraulic fittings represents the minimum inside diameter. So a -6 fitting should have a minimum inside diameter of 3/8". I hope this doesn't cause flow issues or cavitation.



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My Case IH parts arrived today from FedEx!


After inventorying my parts I got to work lifting the lid back off the rear end housing with the 384 and the lifting boom. Got the rest of the broken shaft out easily. One of the washers went for a swim and I had to fish it out with a magnet.


Otherwise swapping the part went pretty smooth! Although in hindsight I should have painted the outside of the lever first.


Got the gasket surfaces cleaned up with brake cleaner and a rag, then tried to fish out any dirt that may have fallen in. Used a very thin film of Permatex Ultra Black on the gasket surfaces, and installed the 3 O-rings with some petroleum jelly.

I think I'm ready to install the cover!


Got the rear end cover back on, all the hydraulic hoses and tubes reinstalled, and the operators platform put back together. Even installed the used 3 point hitch I got from the tractor salvage yard. Although I still can't use it until I get a 3 spool valve and hoses to run the tilt cylinders, and pins for the lower links.


Now for the moment of truth! I put the old muffler off my Farmall 544 on it started the engine to check for leaks. Everything looked good so I tried out the new shifter. First in low, then high. Took it for a long drive down the road and back. Finally got a chance to put a load on the new engine in high range coming up the hill. So I went ahead and did a break-in on the engine. It ran WAY better when I got done with that. I will readjust the valve lash once I get a couple hours on it. Hydro seemed very strong!


So far I am pretty happy with it. Although I am probably crazy for going through all this work and expense for this machine. Lots of minor stuff left to do but I think the major stuff is done. Electrical, hydraulic valve and hoses for box blade, hood repair, king pins, and new tires are yet to come.

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