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.