Front-mount hitches Double up your work performance with a front-mount hitch that's able to take on almost any implement; you'll save on field passes, fuel consumption and precious time.

Laforge Systems specializes in front-mount hitches and makes 40 different designs that fit a number of tractor models. It adds a new unit that fits Case MX 180- to 270-hp Magnum tractors (above). Part of its Modular series, the new hitch comes in five sizes that offer lift capacities from 5,900 to 12,100 lbs. (smaller models for carrying, larger models for pushing). Because the hitches have only one moving part, sway is minimized.

The company also makes adapters for rear-mount equipment (usually mower conditioners). Even though rear hitches are adapted for front-end use, hitches made specifically for front-mount work offer necessary rigidity.

Prices for the front-mount hitches start at $5,400. Contact Laforge Systems, Dept. FIN, 4425-C Treat Blvd., Suite 230, Concord, CA 94521, 800/422-5636.

Equip your Deere 6000s and 6000 TENs with one of two new front hitches from Buckeye Tractor (below). They install on 2-wd, 4-wd, front wheel drive, high-clearance and utility tractors.

Instead of a lift arm, these hitches feature a rockshaft that has adjustable lift linkages for leveling implements and also offers independent flotation. Lift ratings are 2,800 and 4,100 lbs.; push ratings are 65 and 90 hp, depending on the model. Existing tractor bolt holes are used to mount the rockshaft. Some manufacturers are already offering front, 3-pt. hookups. To find out if your tractor can handle the load, check with your dealer. Prices start at $2,365. Contact Buckeye Tractor Co., Dept. FIN, Box 123, Columbus Grove, OH 45830, 800/526-6791.

Skidding into spring (by Roxanne Furlong) A "must have" on many farms, the new skid steers coming to market have cab amenities that offer comfort and ergonomic support to help cushion the job of loading. Companies also have beefed up loader power to give improved lifting, reaching and hauling capacities for farm chores. Here's what's new in the industry. Melroe's new Bobcat G-series skid steer loaders show off nine cab improvements (patents pending) for better operator comfort. Cabs have a larger front opening for easier entry and exit; more head room; an optional, full-suspension adjustable seat (adjusts to operator's size); seat-mounted seat belt that moves with the operator; a roomier, rear-pivot seat bar for hefty operators; and ergonomic arm rests for all-day comfort. The cab roof is domed (fore and aft, side to side) so rain runs right off. Model 773 G has a 46-hp Kubota diesel engine; 863 and 873 G are powered by a 73-hp Deutz diesel. Price range: $21,900 to $27,600. Contact Melroe Co., Dept. FIN, Box 6019, Fargo, ND 58108, 70_1/241-8740.

Mustang Manufacturing adds model 2042 to its lineup. It features a 1,350-lb. operating capacity and a 43-hp engine. Axle torque has been increased to 4,900 lbs. ft. for more excavating and material loading power. It also offers increased hydraulic output for use of a variety of attachments. List price: $22,779 with bucket. Contact Mustang Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 547, Owatonna, MN 55060, 507/451-7112.

New Holland's new LS series of skid steers offers the company's Super Boom design. A vertical lift path keeps the load in your view at all times and gives you optimum forward reach of 24 to 31 in. at maximum lift heights of 7 ft. 3 in. to 8 ft. 3 in., depending on the model. To ensure safety and prevent theft or vandalism, the unit cannot be operated until a pass code is entered. Price: not available at press time. Contact New Holland North America, Dept. FIN, 500 Diller Ave., New Holland, PA 17557, 717/355-1371.

Gehl introduced models 5635 and 6635 three years ago with a roomy cab and ergonomic seat. New improvements to the company's two largest skids offer a faster hydraulic cycle to do repetitive jobs quicker, and increased hydraulic output so more fluid flows to attachments. Standard auxiliary hydraulic flow is increased 15% to 23 gpm. Base price: $25,000 for model 5635; $29,000 for 6635. Contact Gehl Co., Dept. FIN, 143 Water St., West Bend, WI 53095, 262/334-9461. 10 skid steer safety tips

* Before moving, look front to back and side to side to be sure no one is in your path. * Never permit riders. * Keep the lift arms down when traveling or turning. * Without a load, the rear of the loader carries the weight; with a load, the front of the loader is heaviest. * Travel up and down slopes with the heavy end of the loader pointed uphill; keep lift arms down and the bucket tilted up. * If you cannot avoid a steep slope, travel straight up or down it, never across it. * Avoid ditches, curbs or obstacles. If these are unavoidable, reduce speed, raise the bucket to clear, and cross at an angle. * Keep away from drop-offs. Never operate too close to an overhang or gully. * When transporting the loader on a trailer, drive up the ramp with the heavy end pointing uphill; lower and rest the bucket on the trailer bed; and secure the loader with tiedowns at the front and rear. - Courtesy of Melroe

Making tracks (and tires to go with them) You've seen the name Goodyear driving cars, trucks, trailers and tractors. You may be surprised to find out that most of the tires and tracks built for today's tracked machinery are from the same company.

Trackman Rubber Track Products produced by Goodyear now include tires for rubber track use only. These tires have been designed to provide a flat, non-directional tread profile along with sidewall designs to properly interact with track guide lug shapes. In addition, the new tires offer designs to control inflated diameters, which have been an issue with potential tire/track applications.

Track packages for both outside and inside guide lug rubber tracks are available for Melroe, Case, Caterpillar, Gehl and Hydramac skid steer loaders. New skid steer packages will be introduced in 2000 for machines with long wheelbases (over 42 in.). Contact Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Dept. FIN, 1115 S. Wayne St., St. Marys, OH 45885, 419/394-3311, ext. 256.

Buying time "Business solutions may include purchasing only the work a machine is capable of completing vs. owning the machine." Dave Rock, manager of business planning, Deere & Company, on the future of the machinery industry Resource

Buy, sell, trade Don't go to the sale lot without the "blue book" for farmers. The 2000 edition of the Farm Equipment Guide Quick Reference Guide lists serial numbers, specs and average pricing of more than 200 brands of machinery. Price: not available at press time. Contact Farm Equipment Guide, Dept. FIN, Box 1115, Fort Dodge, IA 50501, 800/673-4763.