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  • Dodged a Bullet

    Without that inherited tractor, there would be no Lucky Mud Course. Over the years of the course, there have been a few serious failures involving that machine. I just lived through another one.

    My second diesel storage tank leaked water in around the cap and I unwittingly pumped a big glug into the tractor? It more than filled the settling bowl on my water separator/filter (which then failed) and the water made it all the way through the fuel pump, injection pump, and into the injectors.

    This was the second to last day that it wasn't raining. The tractor was down in the woods, but pretty much out of view, and for the time, safe from vandals/hunters, etc. It had the wood chipper and trailer connected. I searched all over the net, knowing only that I'd heard nightmare stories about such a diesel/water scenario. The day after it happened I read that you shouldn't wait even a day before tearing into it to remove any water. Any corrosion could kill the $1300 injection pump and the $250 injectors.

    I got the new filter element for only $33 (sheesh) on Wednesday. I'd already torn the triple injector pump down part way and blown out each pump with compressed air. I didn't want to attempt to disassemble the injectors which have check valves and bypass valves inside. I just blew them out from the top and baked them on top of the wood stove in hopes of driving out any water, and then I immersed them in diesel.

    I drained fuel from the tank and didn't get much more water. I let the fuel pump flush the lines well clear with filtered fuel and hooked it back to the injection pump. With the injector holes open, I cranked the engine until each pump was showing fuel and then I connected each injector in turn to one of the pumps and verified fuel spraying from the nozzle. While I was in that last step, it started thundering and raining.

    Getting it all buttoned back up took enough time for me to get fairly wet, but I could taste a possible end to the ordeal. So I just stayed the course. It took a little cranking, but each cylinder caught in time and it was running. The grass had gotten wet, so while the tractor idled, I made a run for it with my car and tools. It barley climbed out but it made it. I ran the tractor home to its shelter and walked back for the car. Now I'm sitting here writing this and the sky has opened to a deluge.
    Last edited by Ol' Bob; February 12th, 2010, 02:08 PM.
    The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
    ...but it plays one on TV.

  • #2
    And the crowd goes wild!




    That was certainly one of the most exciting tractor repair stories I've read! Good job, Bob. I'd buy you a beer, but hopefully you have some Vortex on hand to reward yourself until I can bring you one next time I make the trip.
    Untwist thine undergarments, 'tis but a Frisbee.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Tim View Post
      ...hopefully you have some Vortex on hand to reward yourself until I can bring you one next time I make the trip.
      Make that "in hand." As a matter of fact, I just walked down and got me one out of my new keg.
      The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
      ...but it plays one on TV.

      Comment


      • #4
        Nice work Bob!
        A bad day on the golf course is better than a good day at work!

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks. Maybe soon I'll run down the list of tractor tragedies. Pray it never goes down in spring or summer.
          The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
          ...but it plays one on TV.

          Comment


          • #6
            Epic effort - when will water and oil just sit down and learn to get along?

            Comment


            • #7
              I also use the tractor to get all the firewood at Mud. One time I was all the way down at the big creek trying to pull out a partially buried tree that a flood knocked over. This was a real learning experience. I learned that you don't use a four wheel drive tractor to try and lift and pull a heavy object in reverse. I had chained onto the tree after cutting it free from the stump. What I didn't know was there were big branches buried in silt that held it down. I hooked the chains to the bucket and tried to lift, which took the weight off the rear wheels and put all the engine's driving force on the dinky gears and parts of the front differential.

              BOOM! In a split second, I broke two small bevel pinions, something in one of the swivel joints called a sun gear, the ring and pinion, two ball bearings, and I had bent both axle shafts. I was able to straighten the two shafts, but the gears and bearings, plus new seals and gaskets, weighing all of 12 pounds, cost a mere $2000. That job took me months to complete, but again, it wasn't during mowing season.

              This wasn't my first excursion into the front differential. The man who'd given me the tractor once drove it over a bank that he couldn't back up or turn around on. Based on the same physics I later discovered, he'd broken the ring and pinion. The shop he hired put in the wrong ring gear. It was identical to the proper one, except it was of an earlier vintage. The proper one called for 8 10mm bolts, but this one had 8 8mm holes in it. So, the dumbsheets at the shop (no longer in business) put it onto the differential case flange with 8mm bolts through the 10mm holes. Well, every time the tractor went from forward to reverse, the ring gear was slipping 2 mm back and forth. Another issue the shop put in was, they didn't even use the called for hardened bolts.

              Soon after I got the tractor, all 8 bolts sheared off into three pieces each, the head, the section of shaft that was in the over-sized holes, and the portion that remained on the ring gear. So, the pieces of bolt and their lock washers all fell to the bottom of the carrier, but somehow miraculously none went between the ring and pinion, or the spider gears. When it gave out, I was at the bottom of a steep hill, and now with only two wheel drive. I had to use the bucket to build a long gradual ramp to get enough of a run to make it back up the hill.

              I got into it and had to figure out what had happened. The proper ring gear was over $500 and that was out of my reach. I too had to make the wrong one work. I took the differential case, marked the ring gear mounting flange between the 10mm holes and drilled 8 8mm holes. Using the proper hardened 8mm bolts, and 16 spots of JB Weld between the 16 holes, I put the ring gear back in. The trouble was, all those ground up bolts ate the seals out of the swivel joints and short of a total tear-down, it was always going to leak gear oil. When I later killed the front axle, that tear-down was unavoidable. It no longer leaks.

              My recent fuel catastrophe was not my first venture into the fuel injection system either. About three years ago, I was using the tractor when Fletch showed up and wanted to play a round. I shut off the tractor and we played. I returned later and turned the key. It cranked and cranked, but would not fire. I finally tried a shot of starting fluid (damn, I hate using that stuff) and it fired and ran the starting fluid out and died. If I put diesel straight into the air inlet, it would do the same thing.

              Having no experience with diesel injection systems, I had every expert and experienced guy I knew over to help me figure it out. They all did what I had repeated done already: stood there and scratched their heads. I had tried each injector outside the engine on its individual pump line, and some fuel was coming through each. That was the situation for over three weeks as the tractor never moved form my neighbor's front yard. No one could figure it out.

              I had found my injection pump online for a mere $1300. This is an item you can hold easily in the palm of your hand. I called a fuel injection specialist in Portland and one of their kind people told me that it was possible for me to take the pump apart, but very easy to screw it up in doing so. But he encouraged me and told me how to do it and what to be careful of.

              I did it, keeping careful track of all three individual pumps, each having its own parts bin. I found a tiny pinion gear that one tooth had broken from and flipped over and stuck in the adjacent groove. This pinion was just like two in the other two pumps and the three were ganged together with a rack gear that was run from the governor. When that broken tooth stuck in the groove, it locked all three pumps, and at a point that allowed some fuel through, but not enough to fire. That was the mystery solved. The fuel injection place UPSed me that tiny gear for $6 plus freight.

              A few years ago, the tractor started making a loud obnoxious noise when I took it over very uneven ground. I was helping a neighbor up the creek to get some logs from the floods. I didn't find the source of the noise right away. Later, while picking up logs from the tree I removed on my property to clear the lefty route on hole two, it made the noise again. I inspected and found that several large bolts had backed out from the forward frame where it attaches to the engine block (on the crankcase skirt, to be specific).

              Most wheel tractors don't have frames as such. The engine connects directly through the clutch housing and transmission to the rear axle and gear housings and this constitutes a frame. I didn't know at the time how many bolts had loosened, or even where they were. I put in the one I'd found loose and tightened it. I didn't know there were two more missing from the front of the engine block, as these were well hidden. This forward frame holds the loader bucket and its framework and also has the stops for the front axle's tilt pivot. The noise I had been hearing was that frame moving far enough for the fan to hit the fan shroud. The whole front framework was parallelograming, wrenching the radiator with it.

              The next day after replacing the bolt, I was moving logs, backing up when I saw in front of me, a trail of black oil. I immediately shut 'er down and discovered that the bolt I had replaced, being the only one of several doing the work of all those, had ripped the side right out of the the crankcase skirt, breaking the motor block. I had put all the weight of a heavy log onto that one bolt.

              I'll try and make what was a long involved fix as brief as I can. I dropped the oil pan and tried to braze the broken piece back in. That didn't go well, lying on my back under the dripping hot bronze. Also, there was a whole tractor to keep from burning down. I took some quarter inch steel plate and clamped it as a splint inside the crankcase and drilled the skirt and plate and treaded the holes in the plate, fitting it so as to not interfere with the crankshaft throws. I then buttered the inside of the skirt and the plate with lots of JB Weld and bolted it in, creating a bridgework across the break.

              The engine was made with six frame mount holes on each side, but of the six, Cub Cadet only used four. I put two more bolts in those unused holes after drilling the frame rails to accommodate them. I did not put a bolt in the repaired section, as I don't want to load that weakened section. As all of this had to be done on my back, it was a Hell of a job. I LocTited all those bolts and check them now fairly regularly. Because of those wrenching motions when the bolts were missing, the radiator still has leaky seams. One of these days I have to get it rebuilt. Hopefully before next winter, so I can keep antifreeze in it and not have to drain it every time I think it's going to get cold out.

              Well, I think that covers all the majors. Replacing the front axle pivot bushing, though a tough job, I'll call a minor. Sadly, that's a periodic job.

              Through all these things, I have figured out that I could build this tractor, which sold originally for $16,000 and got another $9,000 in modifications, for about $250,000 in parts.

              On edit: Geezo, I almost lost that post, as my login timed out while I wrote it.
              Last edited by Ol' Bob; February 14th, 2010, 06:04 PM.
              The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
              ...but it plays one on TV.

              Comment


              • #8
                Of course - the hardened ones are too brittle to repeatedly slam 2 mm back and forth under shear force.

                Brilliant engineering, I'm surprised they didn't figure out that rubber bands were even more flexible!

                Originally posted by Ol' Bob View Post
                they didn't even use the called for hardened bolts.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Oh yeah, I also had to get all eight pieces of bolt out of the holes in the ring gear. Well, that old model ring gear is gone, replaced with the 10mm bolt version.

                  What I learned is this: my Cub Cadet is a '90s tractor, but that front axle design is an old Case front diff that Mitsubishi made starting in 1964. I had wondered why that year was embossed in the castings in three places. Case had discontinued it so Mitsubishi sold it to MTD, who had bought the Cub Cadet name (I think from International Harvester). Mitsubishi had made minor changes such as the stronger bolts. Another thing I learned too late was, if you buy the parts as Case parts, they are considerably cheaper than if you get it with the Cub Cadet name. In any event, Cub or Case, the part you get comes from Mitsubishi.

                  How I learned all this is, in my order of bolts the first time I fixed the front diff, I got the 10mm bolts from Cub Cadet, when I needed 8mms for the old style ring gear. When I ordered parts the second time I had to fix it, that time with the proper ring gear, I didn't get the bolts at all with the parts order. They UPSed them to me later and they screwed up and sent me the 8mm bolts, when now I needed the 10s. That is how I found out that the smaller bolts were for a Case tractor. At this point I said, "frog it," and went to a fastener company and bought 10mm 8.8 hardness bolts generically.

                  (It just hit me that the repair shop probably ordered the wrong 'Case' ring gear to save some money, and then said, "screw it," and just winged it with the smaller, doomed to fail, bolts. They knew they were working for a rich guy who didn't mind spending. They probably expected he would be bringing it back for another repair and they'd charge him to fix it again. I went in there and questioned them and they told me they'd let that mechanic go. Every time I was in there, they always had a new mechanic! Well, the whole shootin' match is long gone now.)

                  I can't complain that I was given a tractor. I do wish it wasn't a Cub Cadet.
                  Last edited by Ol' Bob; February 14th, 2010, 06:07 PM.
                  The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
                  ...but it plays one on TV.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I probably should have mentioned all the times I've had to repair the mower deck. I got it used for $425 out of the local paper's ads, of all places. When the course first started, I mowed it with a 48 inch brush hog. That was a high stress horrible job. Then I saw this 72 inch deck in the Weekly Wipe and was the first to call on the ad. It was originally a $1200 deck, but I'm sure it's well over two grand now. Here's a used one I could get for $1450 now:


                    Over the years I've had it, I've had to rebuild the gear case (after it blew an oil seal) and have broken or lost so many parts I can't even remember. I usually break it several times a season. Right now, it needs new bushings on all four wheels. We can thank the bumpy ground for the wear and tear. If it wasn't for the elk and moles, I could probably mow this place at over ten miles per hour. As it is, 4 MPH is about as fast as my old back can stand with the bumping around. The amount of mowing I do weekly in high spring and summer is about 40 miles a week. Well, that's DG course biz. Come and huk with me. That's why I do it.
                    The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
                    ...but it plays one on TV.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Didn't Mistubishi make the zeros in WWII too?

                      Granted they weren't necessarily viewed as multi-use aircraft...

                      Originally posted by Ol' Bob View Post
                      Oh yeah, I also had to get all eight pieces of bolt out of the holes in the ring gear. Well, that old model ring gear is gone, replaced with the 10mm bolt version.

                      What I learned is this: my Cub Cadet is a '90s tractor, but that front axle design is an old Case front diff that Mitsubishi made starting in 1964. I had wondered why that year was embossed in the castings in three places. Case had discontinued it so Mitsubishi sold it to MTD, who had bought the Cub Cadet name (I think from International Harvester). Mitsubishi had made minor changes such as the stronger bolts. Another thing I learned too late was, if you buy the parts as Case parts, they are considerably cheaper than if you get it with the Cub Cadet name. In any event, Cub or Case, the part you get comes from Mitsubishi.

                      How I learned all this is, in my order of bolts the first time I fixed the front diff, I got the 10mm bolts from Cub Cadet, when I needed 8mms for the old style ring gear. When I ordered parts the second time I had to fix it, that time with the proper ring gear, I didn't get the bolts at all with the parts order. They UPSed them to me later and they screwed up and sent me the 8mm bolts, when now I needed the 10s. That is how I found out that the smaller bolts were for a Case tractor. At this point I said, "frog it," and went to a fastener company and bought 10mm 8.8 hardness bolts generically.

                      (It just hit me that the repair shop probably ordered the wrong 'Case' ring gear to save some money, and then said, "screw it," and just winged it with the smaller, doomed to fail, bolts. They knew they were working for a rich guy who didn't mind spending. They probably expected he would be bringing it back for another repair and they'd charge him to fix it again. I went in there and questioned them and they told me they'd let that mechanic go. Every time I was in there, they always had a new mechanic! Well, the whole shootin' match is long gone now.)

                      I can't complain that I was given a tractor. I do wish it wasn't a Cub Cadet.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I wonder what MTD stands for. Mitsubishi Tractor Division?

                        On edit: I found the original name belonged to a Cleveland company called the "Modern Tool & Die Co." Now they're just another corporation that buys and sells brand names and distributes product lines.

                        The MTD family of brands includes Cub Cadet, Cub Cadet Commercial, Cub Cadet Yanmar, Troy-Bilt, White Outdoor, Yard-Man, Yard Machines, Bolens, Arnold, GardenWay, MTD Pro and MTD Gold. MTD products can be found in all channels of distribution such as home improvement stores, hardware stores, mass retailers, independent dealers and farm supply stores.


                        Somehow, with as often as the equipment breaks down, I'd find it pretty hard to relax for hours as someone else ran it.
                        Last edited by Ol' Bob; February 15th, 2010, 08:05 AM.
                        The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
                        ...but it plays one on TV.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Didn't Dodge It This Time...

                          When that big cold snap hit a couple months ago, the last day I used the tractor was a cold one. As usual, I drained the cooling system down when I parked it. I opened the petcock and hot water spilled out. There was one problem I hadn't figured, the block and radiator have a common drain connected by two quarter inch lines, one from each. The one that drains the block is external and was already frozen. So, all that drained was the radiator and the head. The block being below the level of the water pump did not drain.

                          A few weeks ago when the weather warmed up, I started on next winter's firewood. When I tried to fill the radiator, water poured out on the ground. A freeze plug on the right side of the block had pushed out. This scared the crap out of me, but I pushed the freeze plug back in and hoped for the best. I used the tractor to get a bunch of trees felled and bucked into logs and decked up for bucking and splitting, draining the radiator down each time until the long term forecast said no freezes coming.

                          Everything looked okay until the last series of freezing nights were starting. I went out to drain it and out of the cooling system came some oil. I pulled out the dipstick and there was some sign of emulsification in the oil. My worst fear of a cracked block was realized. Water is in the oil and oil is in the water. In a word, catastrophe.

                          I may be able to fix it, but even if I can't, the job before me is monumental. I will change the oil and wash out the filter with solvent before running the engine one last time. I will need the engine to run the hydraulic pump to remove the front end loader and move the tractor into a position where I can disassemble the front end, beginning with removing the front axle, hood, grill, battery, radiator, and forward frame. Before parking it I will pressure wash the engine.

                          I have searched the internet looking for a shortblock, and called a Cub Cadet dealer. The parts guy at the dealer called his engine guy and called me back and told me that there are no engines or shortblocks anywhere and that, as far as my tractor was concerned, I had, "a paperweight."

                          The engine is a Mitsubishi K3M D14R. This 27 HP engine was used in the 1996 Cub Cadet 7274 like mine, and before that in the early '90s Case IH 1140, which was pretty much the same tractor, by a different name. Both were made by Mitsubishi.

                          I have seen a few of these tractors, used, on Craigslist, for from $9,500 to $11,000, but they were all back east. Of course I couldn't afford that anyway.

                          There seems to be more oil in the water than there is water in the oil. I am assuming the crack (if there is only one) is hairline and near the oil pump, a crack crossing a drilled oil line through the block. I am assuming this drilled line crosses the bottom of the water jacket near where the freeze plug pushed out, as the oil pump is an external one on that same side. My plan is to remove the oil pump and freeze plug, find the output line bore and sleeve it by JB Welding a thin piece of tubing through it. Then clean the water jacket with solvent, treat it with Naval Jelly to convert any rust, and cover the bottom with JB weld over stainless steel screen.

                          This is a lot of work with no guarantee of success. First off, having no decent shop space, so I must see to creating some kind of covered work area. I potentially will have to hoist the engine in this space, though I hope I can avoid that. The enormity of my task has me pretty depressed. The loss of the tractor for my day-to-day needs weighs heavy. The golf course becomes a low priority.

                          The man who gave me this tractor was always ready to help his neighbors with it, without charge. I have kept this tradition going. Everyone at Lucky Mud gets their annual supply of firewood from me, no charge. Any time they need a tractor job, it has been my pleasure to help if I could. Service is my life path, and having tools facilitates this. This one particular tool makes up for my waining strength and allows me to do so much that I could not do otherwise.

                          Well, wish me luck, or find me a great deal on a used tractor with a good engine. The reason I need the same model tractor (or that earlier Case) is all the trick stuff the previous owner added. If I hit the Lotto, I will definitely go for a larger tractor. As things are, I may need one that I can transfer parts to. No matter how this resolves, I have my work cut out for me.
                          Last edited by Ol' Bob; January 24th, 2011, 01:15 PM.
                          The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
                          ...but it plays one on TV.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Going deep in the red for a new blue tractor this week. The grass is getting long and the firewood's getting late.
                            The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
                            ...but it plays one on TV.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              New tractor to be delivered on Saturday!

                              ========================

                              I might not mow as religiously as in past years. It's the middle of May and our firewood will be the priority until it's bucked and split.
                              The Corporate Empire is NOT a Constitutional Republic...
                              ...but it plays one on TV.

                              Comment

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