Monday, May 1, 2017

Loader advancement

Finally got some more time with the loader, first off that stupid top link had to go.

There was a little tension in it... That Harbor Freight 7" angle grinder was a good investment, its a little low on power when I really play the gorilla and lean on it but it does a good job.

Outgoing at the top, incoming below. 2.5"x.18", way overkill but I figured go big or go home. That turned out to bite me later on.

Lookin good right?

Heres the problem, thats my new 10" hydraulic cylinder replacing the 16" that was there, notice how the bucket is tipped slightly down but the cylinder is sucked all the way in. The bucket can't curl up any... Turns out when I had measured to replace the cylinder I'd measured to the TOP of the new brace. I should have bought an 8" cylinder and 2" tube steel. In the first step I shortened my top mount which helped a little but not enough, the second step involved modifying the bucket.

I cut the cylinder mounts off the bucket and moved them 2.5" down. While I was at it I took off the 1.25" bushings and installed proper 1" so the pin won't beat itself to death.

The bucket curls correctly now. Theres still more work to do, I need to go back and pretty up the new mounts, probably box them in some for added strength too. Then I want to cut the bucket down considerably. Its waaaay to heavy for this application. Its 47" wide where the plans I bought call for 42". I think considering how heavily its built I'll cut it all the way down to 40". I'll lower the top by 3" and pull in the leading edge by 4". Is that easier than making a bucket from scratch? I don't know but the ribs on this one make it super strong which is why its super heavy. Once its done I'll never hurt it...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

More time with the loader

Dang Blogger keeps changing my posts. I checked today and my last two posts have black text even though my standard is supposed to be white. I had to go into each post and change it.

Anyway I've got a couple updates on the loader, when we last left our hero the loader was working as intended, well mostly anyway. I parked it behind the garage by where I keep the snowmobiles so I could keep an eye on it and of course we got some snow. I bought a new 12" cylinder for the bucket to replace the too long one so I decided I wanted to move the machine into the garage. Its a loader, it can dig itself out of the snow right? Well sorta.

I knew there was a tire with a slow leak and it'd gone soft but it seemed to be holding okay. After half an hour of digging out of the snow it finally let go and the tire spun on the rim. So everything went on hold while I bought tubes.

Fortunately (?) a tube is easier to install when the tire is already loose on the rim. I'll need to invest in new tires soon, these ones are badly weather checked but they'll do for now.

So with the tire back on and the wheel and wheel weight installed I made some more progress toward the garage until:

Cylinder top mount let go. Look close and you'll see some real booger welding there. Well fortunately its spring and the snow melted fast so last week I managed to get the tractor into the garage and got that link off the cylinder.

Wonder if somebody was really proud of that work?

I boxed it in and added a BUNCH of weld to make a new, stronger unit:

Boxed in sides mean I can run a bead of weld all the way around the outside so it'll be waaaaay stronger when I attach it. Unfortunately I don't have anything to attach it to yet...

On the learning front I've decided how to deal with the big hydraulic reservoir, you remember this one?

5 gallons of oil hanging nearly 2 feet off the rear of the tractor. I'd worried about using a smaller reservoir and still having enough capacity. So I went back to the loader plans I'd bought before from He uses the right side tower as a reservoir, I was still nervous so I emailed him, nice guy, he got right back to me and I realized that since these are double acting cylinders you don't need much extra fluid capacity since the cylinders are always full, just pushing in one direction or the other. So I'll drill some holes and see if the tower is water tight. Assuming they are I'll re-plumb everything and add in a filter which is conspicuously missing from the current system.

Turning my attention to the hydraulic pump, the system is REALLY jumpy, best I can tell I've got a 24GPM (gallon per minute) hydraulic pump which is way oversized. Correct for this machine would be more like 5GPM. So I'll be sourcing a smaller pump and building a new bracket.

Last thing, as I got the tractor into the garage I figured I ought to change the oil. I'd been running it pretty good and who knows the last time it'd had love? Hadta use a stuck bolt extractor to pull the plug:

The points were all rounded pretty bad. I think somebody had been putting it in way too tight and tried to get it out with a crescent wrench. A few minutes on the belt grinder got it back to shape:

Its a little undersized now but a 9/16" wrench fits on it with only a little slop and I didn't put it in crazy tight. It doesn't leak now and I'm curious why some ham-fist cranked it in but whatever, I'll take it as a win.
A little Mobil 1 5w40 synthetic oil made the engine way quieter, the stuff that came out was black as night and felt thin I don't know what it was but it amazes me people use cheap oil, after all the machine doesn't quite use a whole quart, why not spring for the good stuff?

Anyway we're making progress. I'm not going to be able to touch it for a couple weeks but when I get back I plan to work through our two major projects, the bucket rotate cylinder and the tower reservoir...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

New toy update

Took a couple hours on the new tractor yesterday. As a reminder the PO suggested that the PTO clutch was blowing the fuse, he said he measured it at 0 ohms.
The hood was adjusted too far forward anyway so I pulled it off finding only 2 of the 4 bolts that should be there. The PTO clutch showed 3.5 ohms which is exactly in the middle of the 3-4 ohm range. I took a 12v drill battery and applied power and could hear the clutch engage. The little jumper wires I had didn't get hot or show any sign of a short. There was a little pigtail on the wire coming from the switch, I disconnected that and hooked the wire to the clutch, flip the switch and the clutch engaged as it should.
Fire up the tractor and the clutch engaged but no hydraulics. Turns out theres ANOTHER clutch on the poorly mounted hydraulic pump. It looks like what happened was the pigtail used to go to that clutch also, got torn off and grounded to the frame which caused the fuse to pop.

I ended up reworking the pigtail, it was assembled upside down. I'm not happy with the routing but I just wanted to see if I could get the hydraulics to function.

Success! Lift goes up and down, bucket rolls. Everything I suspected about the hydraulic cylinders being too long is true, the lift arms are so long the bucket won't rest flat on the ground. 2" shorter cylinders would fix the problem.

I took a ride to Tractor Supply to buy some bolts since my local hardware store was closed. While there I looked at the hydraulic assortment and realized that everything on the tractor is from Tractor Supply. So the builder just bought stuff that was "close". So I'll be measuring and buying stuff thats right instead. Fortunately the rams all work so I should be able to sell them off to mitigate the cost.

Used the loader to haul firewood, I'm not sure its any faster than just using my garden cart but I wanted it to warm up and see if there were any engine troubles, there aren't other than the choke occasionally sets itself, the tower where the steering wheel is needs to come apart anyway, the bolster for the steering shaft is boogered, shouldn't be hard to fix.

Anyway the positive news for the day is I took a $1200 not-working loader and turned it into an $1800 mostly-working loader. Not bad for $1.00 worth of connectors.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A new toy

I've been looking at garden tractor loaders off and on for a couple years now. I even bought plans to build my own which of course was relegated to the "round tuit" pile.

Today I picked up a 1977 Cub Cadet 1650 (16hp, hydrostatic drive) with a loader on it. I think the loader was homemade with some modifications after initial construction.

I paid $1200 which is about half what I would normally expect to pay for such a thing. The electric PTO clutch doesn't work so I can't engage the hydraulics to run the loader but it starts easily even in the teens and is able to slide the loader bucket along pretty well.
I've been researching the PTO clutch and as with most things I won't really know whats up until I dig into it, the clutch itself is pretty simple and only about $150 if I find it needs replacement. The previous owner said it worked and then started blowing fuses, the wiring is a little hacked but not too bad so I'll pull it apart and see whats going on.

The hydraulics look like they were rigged by a halfwit, I plan to replace some of the hoses with hard lines since they're too short to route better than they already are. I'd like to replace the single cylinder currently hooked up for the bucket with two cylinders on the lift arms. Getting that stupid looking big cylinder out of the way would allow the hood to open correctly.

Anyway its a fun new toy and as I told the neighbor it'll keep my out of the bars.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A couple easy fixes

"I love it when a plan comes together." - Hannibal Smith

The other day plowing snow after sundown I noticed that the ammeter on the Cub Cadet was reading negative. A check with the multi-meter proved that the ammeter was correct and we were discharging.

A bit of google-fu found some troubleshooting instructions that mostly revolved around the voltage regulator, being the "brains" of the system that seemed a reasonable place to start.

The VR on these is real old school technology, basically unchanged from the '40s. First find the bat terminal and ensure it gets 12v even with the key off. Mine didn't... This set off a line of thinking that maybe the problem was actually just dirty contacts so I proceeded to remove each contact and scrub with a wire brush. Turned out to be the correct choice, 12v was restored to the bat terminal and charging commenced:

Not bad for a no-money job.

A few years ago I made a short video about the Jetta in the snow. Since we had a larger snowstorm this time I thought I'd make a follow-up. Then I made 2 mistakes.

#1. Behind where I had parked is a hole, the hole was bottomed with ice. I didn't use enough power to get across the ice and go the car stuck. Queue hilarity getting the car out.

#2. Some months ago the muffler fell off this car, that in itself is no big deal, the resonator is still there and does an adequate job, the car isn't too loud. However theres an aluminum heat shield above where the muffler goes which got bent down under the car by the force of the snow. A couple big sheet metal screws and large washers fixed that. I also managed to put one washer on a existing stud with a new nut:

Moving right along the snow flap on the back of the '98 Jag got bent so it drags up under the sled. It makes noise while you ride and catches when the suspension compresses. The flap is held on with 4 torx screws, I removed it and used the heat gun to get it bent the right way again. Then I secured a couple tears with zip ties and reinstalled:

Need to be careful in the summer with how I attach the tarp on this machine so I don't bend the flap again.

Not a bad day's work...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Power went out

Happy 2017!

Power went out just before lunch yesterday, no problem, the wood stove was already hot for warming up lunch:

After lunch I read for an hour thinking the power would come back on, when it didn't I went out to the garage and got my backup battery, hooked it to my Coleman brand inverter, plugged in the cable modem and wifi router and got back to work:

This was a proof of concept run, I haven't tried this since we got our cable modem. In practice the inverter is kind of loud, I'd put it on our enclosed porch and run a cable. I should also make better battery connections but it worked well for an hour until the power came back on.I posted the pics on Facebook and friends said "Oh its good you're prepared" well heck I didn't even light a lantern or pull out a stove...