It is no secret that it is handy to have a 2″ hitch on just about everything. It was bugging me that my Deere zero turn mower didn’t have one. Read more to see how I built one for my tractor.
There are a couple of different hitches available for a John Deere Z425, but none that I really liked. There is the factory hitch that has a spot for a sprayer (which I don’t own) and a spot to put a tow ball, then I also saw some amazon hitches that bolt on but don’t appear to be deep enough for normal hitches (the part that sticks past the hitch pin). I also wanted something that was heavier duty.
Here are the ones I was looking at:
They both might have been good options and were both less than $100, BUT this is DIY Metal Fabrication so of course it is better (and cheaper) if we build it ourselves. 😛
Start by getting all of the toys out of winter storage and jacking around with a bunch of dead batteries…
Here is a pic of my previous setup. It is actually a winch plate for an ATV winch bolted onto the muffler guard of the mower. Technically it worked since I was in a pinch at the time, but it was bending the guard.
Time to fix it right. I went and bought a 3,500lb bumper pull trailer hitch so I could modify it to work. Like this:
But if I were to do it again, I would buy one that had a wider plate like this one. Then I wouldn’t have had to weld wings onto it. More on that in a minute.
The first step was making room for the 2″ receiver tube. There was a natural dip in the green part of the rear guard, and the only thing in the way was the top part of the muffler guard where I had unbolted the heat shield. So I cut it off 🙂
Looking at the rear of the mower. There was a heat shield bolted where the black muffler guard is shiny that I had already taken off.
Cutting the tab off the heat shield with a grinder and cutoff wheel to make room for the receiver tube.
This muffler guard was actually way thicker than I expected. Made me feel better about the strength of the rear structure of the mower.
Next up was to shorten the receiver tube a bit to make sure I had plenty of room between it and the muffler.
Again, using a 4.5″ angle grinder and cutoff wheel.
Measuring and cutting a piece of 1/8″ thick 1×1 angle iron for extra support.
Welding the angle iron onto the hitch. This will rest against the back of the crossmember on the mower. Probably not necessary, but I like overkill.
There are three holes across the rear crossmember of the mower. Here you can see I cut the head off a bolt and welded it to the top of the hitch. This is because I wanted to use the existing bolt hole but couldn’t have a nut inside where the receiver hitch slides in.
You can also see I welded a wing on either side to extend out to the other two bolt holes that attach the rear guard and muffler shield. Painted with primer.
Painted black. Still need to drill holes in the ‘wings’.
Here is a tip I have been using for many years to mark holes that I can’t see or get to with a sharpie. I hold the part up where it is supposed to go, put some lithium grease on the tip of the bolts I am going to use and drop them onto the part I want to drill. It leaves a nice white mark that I can then center punch and drill out.
Dip the tip of the bolt in lithium grease.
Put the part up in position then drop the bolt into the hole.
Now I have a mark for each drill hole on the part! Easy as pie.
I then center punched the marks and drilled them out.
I threw on another coat of paint and bolted it on!
Almost looks like it is supposed to be there…
Final product hooked up to the spreader.
Another project done. Am I going to pull huge trailers with this? of course not. What I like about the 2″ receiver is that it gives me options. Who knows when I might need to throw a vice, pintle hitch, tow hook, adjustable hitch, snow plow, or something else in there. I now have the flexibility to hook onto whatever the task requires.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas for your project. Now YOU, just get out there and build something!