Stone Fork Has Unique Crowd Action

Stone fork has unique crowd action

Most farmers have to drive over or past stones when ploughing or cultivating. They can't lift them, or carry them to the hedge. Stone picking is an optional extra.

Albert O'Neill uses his front mounted fork, which he fits to the front of his tractor when ploughing, cultivating or rolling. The substantial fork lifts stones of more than a ton, and he uses it to carry them to the hedge.

"I'll be lifting stones the size of a TV set with the machine, and there's no way I could do it without the fork," says Albert, who farms with his parents and brother near Strabane.

Double close coupled rams make this stone picker extra special

This stone fork fits on the JCB handler as well as the Wilson front linkage kit on the Ford 8240. The green fitting are for the JCB, and the tractor mountings are in the centre. Albert O'Neill farms with parents and his brother near Strabane, N Ireland, and the area is quite stony. Albert collects stones while ploughing, cultivating and rolling, which means he needs the fork on the front linkage. He needs it as close to the tractor as feasible, to keep the weight on the front axle low - not so necessary when ploughing, but very much so when rolling. He digs and collects the stones while working the field, and dumps them in the hedge. He needs the JCB to collect and load them into a trailer.

His one-of-a-kind top link design means that it closes to around 18 inches and opens to 50, which provides a wide angle of tip on the fork. To get the same angle with a single ram would require the implement to be much further from the front of the tractor.

Albert explains how he calculated the length of ram he needed:
"I put the fork on the front linkage and tipped it down to the angle necessary for digging and prising stones, and measured the top link distance. I then lifted the fork so it was at the correct angle to crowd the stones, and measured how short it would be when closed."

Taking the closed length away from the extended length gave Albert the full length of travel, which he then halved, as the pistons were going in opposite directions.

"The problem is much the same as on a trailer, the closed
ram is less than half the length of the open one. On the trailer they fit a two stage ram, but these can only return by gravity, and I obviously needed something that worked under power in both directions."

The ram was ordered over the internet from Sparex, who list a wide variety of ram sizes.
The rams are fitted back to back on a steel bracket. The piston ends of the rams attach to the top link pins, so the rams are in the centre of the gap. Both need to be securely attached, and Albert decided on three U brackets per ram. The cylinder end has a pin going through a clevis.

Albert wondered briefly about welding the two rams together but decided the cylinders would be likely to bend with the heat, and maybe seals would be damaged as well.

A single ram system would be possible if he were to use a mounting similar to a link box, but the only problem is that the fork would be further from the tractor.

Hydraulics not so difficult

The rams need connecting so they extend together and contract together, and a pair of T blocks are used rigged in tandem.


Local farmers who have seen the machine working are impressed with the way it copes with large stones, and the way it articulates so easily. Picking stones from the field when they are first seen is better than leaving them and hoping they won't damage machinery - the job has definitely reduced the number of big stones around. He finds it sometimes annoying to break off ploughing and run back and collect a boulder, but the effort is worthwhile in terms of fewer machinery breakages.

Any reader interested in having one made for them should contact Mike at Practical Farm Ideas 07778877514

The Pictures


High capacity stone fork is used to dig them out and collect and load


Raised position and the ram is around 18ins long


Open position and the close coupled rams are over 50ins


Close up of ram open, with the hydraulic connections


When closed the ram is little more than 18ins long

Copyright: All articles are copyright Practical Farm Idea Magazine and published on The Farming Forum under licence from the magazine and in agreement with The Farming Forum. Please do not reproduce without permission.

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exmoor dave

exmoor, uk
Has that guy invented a hydraulic top link? That's all we use for same job.

I was :scratchhead::scratchhead::scratchhead::scratchhead::scratchhead: too. Travel aberdeenshire and there's not many folk don't have one attached for ploughing etc

No he's invented bolting two together, quite clever really cause your getting the same minimum length of a single closed ram but twice the full open length


Staff Member
NFFN Member
You featured on 3 pages this month:) good read! But you gave too many secrets away.:)

Some can't see for looking.:banghead:

Mike is the only ag journo I will talk with - every other time I have been interviewed they seem to take no notice and write what they want to the point I refuse to let them publish it with my name in it !


Arable Farmer
south norfolk
Im a subscriber and when i first discovered it i bought about ten years of back issues.only got to get one idea and magasines paid for themselves.also chatted to mike several times and have great conversations even though he probably wont remember me.i allways say ill photograph stuff ive made and send in but never get round to it


North of York
I was in PFI in the early days, (silage clamp tyre storage and a link box to hook on the yard scraper). I subscribed ten years ago once again but let it lapse.
Might have to pay the money again.


No he's invented bolting two together, quite clever really cause your getting the same minimum length of a single closed ram but twice the full open length
I've never failed to get a stone out with a normal one. Perhaps they need a digger if they're going that deep.

Have you done much with a stane graip?

It is a good idea. A bit of extra length always comes in handy.


Last edited:


North of York
Any pictures of the storage idea? @Nearly
Long ago we had a indoor clamp with a lean to for cattle. I built a rack 2 tyres wide on the wall, overhanging the cattle area, for the full length of the shed. Tyres stored under cover all winter.
Rack had mesh floor so air still moved around cattle area. :cool:

It saved us a lot of work.....for the 3 years we used it until we sold up and moved. :(

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...