Kubota B2650 Winter Front Grille Cover

bird dogger

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The Kubota Derby: The Engine Temperature Competition & Making of My Winter Front Covers

Before the Race
There might be enough "saddle time" accumulated to now post the findings and fixes for operating in subzero temps and above with my new B2650. It may also apply to or help any other smaller compact tractor having trouble keeping within the operating temperature range with the radiator and fan at the front of the tractor blowing air to the rear over the engine. With different variables such as thermostats, snow blowers, engine loading, outside temps, auxiliary cab heaters, etc., one just needs to always keep a sharp eye on the temperature gauge. I had been leaning towards getting some kind of heat into my cab fabrication and needed to be able to keep the operating temps up in the midrange or at least more consistent in the wildly variable outdoor winter temps. Here's what I've discovered and done in my circumstances:

When winter hit this year (2018/2019) I was anxious to put my new purebred Mechanical Steed to use and have it earn its keep in its winter duties. This Steed is always kept in its stall in the heated shop so it already has a head start by a nose or two in warming up before I lead it onto the track, loosen the reins and give it a workout worthy of the thoroughbred that it is. However, once outside it's stall and out in the elements it struggled to warm up (even under load) and if left to idle in the cold would almost start to shiver. Something was missing to help my mechanical steed contend with the cold winter temps here near the 49th parallel. (Note: The temps posted here are actual, not wind chill adjusted.) If you'd like to watch this competition..... grab your beer and popcorn, Ladies and Gents. :)
 
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bird dogger

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Lap #1
The temperature gauge on this one has a 7segment digital display with no segments displayed being cold (I’d guess) and too Hot being at or above the 7th segment. At my location “cold” in the outside temperature usually means anything below 0° F. (My definition, anyway.) With these outside temps and especially in the temps down around -20° F. (as it was on this day) if left at a fast idle the tractor would seldom get to 1 bar on the display. When I gently engaged the pto and started to blow snow the temp would get to 1 bar and quickly disappear as soon as it returned to an idle condition. Continuous loading of the engine couldn’t raise the temp up and I didn’t feel comfortable working the tractor at such a low engine temp so back in the stall it went to ponder a fix for this pretty cold temp working environment.
 

bird dogger

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Lap #2
On my old JD750 I had made a complete hood and grill shroud out of carpeting that was used as a complete cover for the wintertime. The only openings were to the underside of the engine half of the tractor. Already knowing these smaller diesel engines are so efficient and don’t waste much heat I started at the easiest point to try to conserve the heat in the Kubota. An old corrugated plastic yard sign cut to fit and replace the radiator screen was tried at first with a 6inch diameter hole cut out of the center. Back on the track the steed was still cold and wanted the comforts of its stall again. The 6inch cut out was replaced, taped back on the main piece, and re inserted. This actually helped a little but the temp wouldn’t climb above 1 segment. But it would stay there for a while longer if just left fast idling outside. At least it was an improvement. In this test I had been outside blowing and pushing snow for a short period of time and noticed that the pto rpms were slowing down and couldn’t be maintained at rated speed. No, I don’t believe my fuel was gelling (been there, experienced that before). Winter blend fuel is used along with additives for the cold days. Plus, the shop temp is at 70° F so the fuel is quite warm to start with. I believe with the hydraulic oil cooling “coils” out in front of the radiator screen that the hydraulic oil was starting to thicken just a little and slowing down everything just slightly. Remember it’s around -20° F. outside. Maybe it was a combination of both fuel and hydraulic oil getting too cold. Anyway, back in the stall it went.
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bird dogger

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Lap #3
Looking for something readily available to partially block off the front grill a scrap piece of plastic window vinyl was taped to the grill’s outside surface. So now we have the complete plastic carboard insert in the radiator screen slot and the front of the grill area blocked off. Now, intently watching the temp gauge, its back to the race again. Idling outside, the temp flickered to the first segment (hey, progress! Or should I say “Hay! Progress!). Pushing snow for a few minutes brought the temp up to 2 segments and when loaded harder with the blower I might have seen segment 3 flicker on once or twice. (Now we’re getting somewhere). I tried removing just the radiator screen plastic insert and the cold conquered the engine’s heat again and back it went to 1 segment and less at a fast idle. Okay…..that’s good to know also. In its stall with the diesel feed bag on its time to think about the next step.

Getting braver now, and with the powerful steed chomping at the bit to get going again, some painters tape (easy to remove) was used to cover the side openings & perforated vents on the hood. Out on the track and again watching the temp gauge closely it nicely warmed up to 1 and flickered on 2 segments on the gauge. Much better. Engaging the blower and working it fairly well raised the temp to indicate 3 segments. We’re almost on the last lap and nearing the home stretch now, ladies and gentlemen!! I pushed it quite hard and couldn’t get the display to register 4 segments before I finished with the snow removal. I let it idle for a little while and it cooled down to the 1 segment and it went back into the stall. In a few checks I put my hand on the oil filter and it was quite warm but you could still leave your hands on it. Both hydraulic filters were warm but not nearly as warm as the oil filter. Let’s call it a tepid temp. The most important observation was that the pto rpm was now functioning normally again.
 

bird dogger

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Lap #4
Now it was time to ponder a final solution for these cold weather operations. The “solution” should let the engine warm up nicely in the starting gate. It also should be flexible enough to allow for the temperature swings up here in the north’s winter which range from colder than -20° F to +30° F. (a 50° F temperature swing). It also should be easy in its application and easy to change in an up or down temperature swing. Last but not least……It should be worthy of being worn by the purebred Kubota mechanical steed and look like it was meant for the breed. (In this case, the B2650)

The first part was already done. The corrugated plastic cardboard was fine as is unless one finds it in Kubota orange. The next step was to design something that would follow the curves of this great steed, making it look good, yet be easily adapted to changing temps.

I started by making paper templates of the areas that needed covering. Trying to get a flat piece of paper to follow what appears to be a straight line on a curved surface just isn’t all that easy. Trying to follow a curved line on a curved surface with a flat piece of paper is a little worse. Trying to combine the two was frustrating at best. So frustrating that during a break I skipped the oat bag and went right to some malt barley in liquid form. After a few pails full, and unable to draw a straight line, suddenly things started to look pretty decent when placing the patterns on the tractor. It took quite a number of tries and adjustments to get something to come out just right. Yes! Finally! (Fist pump) Cold beer solves another problem!
 

bird dogger

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Lap #5
I hoped the easy on/off requirement could be met by using magnets sewn within the hems of the individual pieces. More beer said this will work. I decided on 3 patterns to separately cover the front and two sides of the hood. This would allow four items (when including the plastic insert) to be manipulated to help control the engine’s operating temperature. Some leftover brown naugahyde served as a working prototype material. There was enough to make the front and one side piece. Dragging out the old singer sewing machine (no beer allowed) produced two somewhat ugly but acceptable prototypes (after many setting changes and different techniques) for some trial runs. The diesel feed bag was offered to the steed for the next snowfall. It soon came with some nice cold temps to boot. Perfect!
Here's some pics of my trusty 'ol Singer sewing machine and working on
the prototypes:
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Another -20° F. something day and a heavy snowfall. With the plastic insert installed in front of the radiator, in addition to the front of the radiator grill and one side of the hood being covered the steed was turned out to warm up. In little time the temp raised to a nice on/off/on 1-2 segments. Out of the gate and blowing snow raised the gau3ge to 3 segments and I don’t believe I saw it go any higher. Pretty pleased to be able to operate at midrange temps at an easy pace. This started me thinking that now installing a heater in the cab might be possible with the temps as they are. The patterns and prototypes were tweaked, cut and resewn till they looked pretty darn nice. And figuring if the temps could get to midrange in the real cold weather all that was needed in moderate temps was to start removing the appropriate pieces. The finish line is just a few furlongs away now. Can almost hear the crowd cheering.
 

bird dogger

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Lap #6
Off to the surplus store and found waiting on a roll was a nice soft black almost satiny looking piece of Naugahyde. After figuring out the economies of scale prior to the purchases I bought the black fabric and ordered the other materials needed. This would either allow for some unforeseen mistakes or have some extra pieces/sets for someone in need. The goods quickly arrived and I put together the first set for a trial run. Here’s what I came up with. A 3piece weather front kit sewn to nicely follow the lines and form of the tractor’s hood and grille. Neodymium magnets were sewn inside the hems so the pieces attach and remove without any tools and in less than a minute each. Since the magnets are inside the hems there’s nothing to scratch the paint and they’re extra easy to adjust and shift into place. A gentle tug will lift them free for proper placement or removal. After using the first set for a couple of weeks the pieces have stayed right in place and don’t wander around a bit. Success. Here’s the pics:
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bird dogger

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Lap #7
In the coming weeks it snowed a few times, was very cold, and even warmed up a little for perfect testing conditions. When it was extremely cold, well below 0° F, all 4 pieces installed worked as intended and the operating temp showed midrange when blowing at a casual pace. With the 3 weather fronts in place I also noticed that now any snow on the hood top would melt and run off, indicating that there must be enough warmth under the hood to prevent any fuel gelling or hydraulic flow slowing down. Again, the actual filter temps were the same as with the prototypes on. Warm to the touch but not too hot by any means. Hydraulics functioned perfectly. The gauge would indicate 3 and sometimes 4 segments if engine loading was high.

Another day, when the temp was above zero, the fourth segment appeared on the gauge. If I pushed it pretty hard the 5th segment would display. Removing the plastic insert brought the temp down to midrange again on this warm day. (This use of “warm” is of course subjective.) Removing one or two side panels lowered the temp way down again so I put them back on. It’s sure nice when a plan comes together and works like planned. Now if only there was a way to get engine heat into the cab. With the muffler under the tractor in front and before sealing up the floorboard area, in certain conditions I smelled a whiff of exhaust inside the cab. I decided to opt for plumbing in an auxiliary cab heater instead of trying to direct heat from under the hood inside. That sure solved the cool cab and cold feet problems. With tractor under load this pic shows the aux heater core temp where the coolant enters the core.
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Tractor temperature gauge was reading midrange and with a coolant temp of 168° F in the heater core that seems like a good match, right? That would also mean my oil temp is just a tad higher at this point also. I think the mechanical steed just crossed the finish line!
(Crowd roars!??)
 

bird dogger

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After the Race
Now that this winter front setup has been in use for over a month of varying temps its performance has met the goals hoped for earlier. Maybe even exceeded them. Depending on the temps and how the pieces are used together the preferred operating temperature can be maintained just about anywhere in any outside temps. (Maybe this mechanical steed has some Alaskan Malamute or Husky in its genes?) The one caution to heed would be to carefully keep the weather fronts away from any metal dust or shavings as those magnets are strong. Since they’re fully enclosed in the hems, they should be easy to keep clean of any metal shavings if dropped on the floor or placed near some metal dust, etc. But if unnoticed that could dull the paint when in use. Best to watch and keep them clean. As of now I have a couple of extra sets sewn up and ready to go if anyone is interested and I can figure out how to do that without getting into trouble. Don’t want to get into any trouble this early in the game.

Thanks for looking! And, of course, all comments and questions welcomed.

David
 
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sheepfarmer

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Nice! I had heard that Kubota offered a grille cover for the B3350 which has difficulty making enough heat to complete a regeneration in cold weather. Some of us with front snowblowers have had trouble with snow getting in the air filter. I came up with a very primitive solution that keeps snow out of the air filter and stops ice from covering the radiator. Life is much easier with it. Corner of an old fitted bedsheet held in place with magnets. Not near as nice as yours! I am usually blowing snow at 10 to 20 F, I was more worried about overheating, but it runs at a steady 3 bars. I'll add a picture. I also put a plastic bag over the brush guard.
 

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garciajoe

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Nice work in solving the low operating temps in the winter. I live in Serena, Illinois about an hour south and west of Chicago. This morning it is -5. I would be interested in a set for my B2650 if you would be interested in selling to me.
 

bird dogger

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Nice! I had heard that Kubota offered a grille cover for the B3350 which has difficulty making enough heat to complete a regeneration in cold weather. Some of us with front snowblowers have had trouble with snow getting in the air filter. I came up with a very primitive solution that keeps snow out of the air filter and stops ice from covering the radiator. Life is much easier with it. Corner of an old fitted bedsheet held in place with magnets. Not near as nice as yours! I am usually blowing snow at 10 to 20 F, I was more worried about overheating, but it runs at a steady 3 bars. I'll add a picture. I also put a plastic bag over the brush guard.
Hi, sheepfarmer. There's certainly nothing wrong with running primitive fixes and solutions! My old JD750 compact ran that way for 30 yrs with carpet remnants covering the grill and hood. When you and your tractor are warm what else really matters? :D And overheating in our cold temps never seems to be a problem, I agree with you. Thanks for your pics and compliments, too!!

Since I'm retired and the kids are gone there was a little more time to play with this idea and try to come up with something that was much easier than my old carpet solution. With a little work and tweaking it just happened to look a little better on the new Kubota. Might have to update the old JD750 if I decide to keep it.

Best regards,
Davide
 

bird dogger

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Nice work in solving the low operating temps in the winter. I live in Serena, Illinois about an hour south and west of Chicago. This morning it is -5. I would be interested in a set for my B2650 if you would be interested in selling to me.
Hi garciajoe. Thanks for lookin' and the nice compliments!! Sure, I'd be happy to sell a set to you. You'd be the first one so you could give it a go and give me your thoughts, good or bad. If you didn't think they'd work out for you I'd sure accept the set back and gladly return your money. I have two sets ready to go so it would be easy to box one up and get it in the mail to you right away.

I'm not sure what shipping will cost me but don't think it will be too much as the set doesn't weigh a whole lot. When I saw your post this morning I tried boxing up a set. They roll up together and fit nicely in a box about 4" square and 20" long.

Can you send me an email or PM me some info and we'll talk. I have a price in mind and I think it's really reasonable but I don't want to say for sure publicly until I find out exactly what the shipping will cost me. But consider you have dibs on the first set if you'd like. I think they'd work well for you in your location, too. Thank you!

Regards,
David
 

bird dogger

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Looks good. Where can I buy one? Does it scratch the paint.
Greetings wacnstac! Thanks for the compliments and looking! Nice username you have, too! :)

I'm a one man retired show so you can find one right from me. I haven't seen and don't anticipate any paint scratching from these at all. As long as you don't let any metal dust or filings accumulate on the magnets. In taking these on and off quite frequently when I was testing them on my tractor they haven't left a mark at all. The naughahyde is nice and soft so sliding them into place is easy too. I've tried to hold the pieces somewhat in place away from the tractor and then let it attach just to avoid any excessive positioning of the pieces when installing. But if you're hood is clean of dust and grime and you've kept the pieces from attracting anything ferrous there shouldn't be a problem. Again, since the magnets are fully enclosed in the material it's easy to check and wipe off any metal dust or filings before you attach them to your tractor. PM me or send me an email and I'll let you know what I'm thinking for price. I'd appreciate your feedback on them also.
Thanks a bunch!! Garciajoe is interested in one but there's another ready to go if you'd like. You have dibs on the second set. It wouldn't take me too long to gear up and make some more if there's continued interest.
Regards, David
 

garciajoe

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B2650 Z422 Cyclone Rake North Star log splitter Woods Heritage RD60
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Got my set of these in the mail today. Great workmanship and product support from David. Ran my tractor today with them installed(about 5 min.), bounced around in the frozen timber hauling fire wood, and the magnets held where I put them. Temp ran 3 bars on the tractor which I have never seen in the winter here in northern Illinois. Anyone with a B2650 or similar hood setup, in a cold climate, needs a set of these.
 

Orange1forme

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Greetings wacnstac! Thanks for the compliments and looking! Nice username you have, too! :)

I'm a one man retired show so you can find one right from me. I haven't seen and don't anticipate any paint scratching from these at all. As long as you don't let any metal dust or filings accumulate on the magnets. In taking these on and off quite frequently when I was testing them on my tractor they haven't left a mark at all. The naughahyde is nice and soft so sliding them into place is easy too. I've tried to hold the pieces somewhat in place away from the tractor and then let it attach just to avoid any excessive positioning of the pieces when installing. But if you're hood is clean of dust and grime and you've kept the pieces from attracting anything ferrous there shouldn't be a problem. Again, since the magnets are fully enclosed in the material it's easy to check and wipe off any metal dust or filings before you attach them to your tractor. PM me or send me an email and I'll let you know what I'm thinking for price. I'd appreciate your feedback on them also.
Thanks a bunch!! Garciajoe is interested in one but there's another ready to go if you'd like. You have dibs on the second set. It wouldn't take me too long to gear up and make some more if there's continued interest.
Regards, David
They look good!! :D
PM sent.
 

bird dogger

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Got my set of these in the mail today. Great workmanship and product support from David. Ran my tractor today with them installed(about 5 min.), bounced around in the frozen timber hauling fire wood, and the magnets held where I put them. Temp ran 3 bars on the tractor which I have never seen in the winter here in northern Illinois. Anyone with a B2650 or similar hood setup, in a cold climate, needs a set of these.
Thanks for the nice Thumbs-up, Joe. I sure appreciate it! Let me know if you have any troubles or concerns and we'll make it right. I'm betting your mechanical steed appreciates its new "wardrobe", too. :D And, yes, 5 minutes on and off with no tools sure makes it easy to adjust for the changes in temperature.
 
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