Art of Proprietation

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sung to the tune of Grandmas Feather bed

09100931 new starter

"Oh, It was 8 feet wide and fifteen long
Sleek as a big ol' brick
Made from the steel of four dump trucks
Took a whole pitt crew to make her tick
We didn't get very far
But we had a lot of fun
In the back of CJs chevy van"

I have to apologize to Bruce King. I recently dismissed his vehicle troubles saying I had never had a starter go completely bad on me. It wasn't fair, as it's not like I have never had one fail to operate and I have replaced enough so I have a small cache of them in the barn. Instead, it is more accurate that I have been foolish enough to run them longer than I should by keeping a hammer handy but still managed to always replaced them before I got completely stranded without tools.

In retribution for my flippant remarks, I had to replace one I could not revive. And to be sure I learned my lesson, I had to replace this one twice as I foolishly replaced it with one from the barn first. I should know better than to try to reuse a starter. Of any component, starters suffer more than most from inactivity and degrade quickly on a vehicle or not.

Bruce, my apologies.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cylon Detector

09092074 Counterweight Mold 400

I got to use my cylon detector today

09100203 Empty weight

Actually, it is a mold for making a concrete counter weight for my tractor. It helps the tractor by preventing a heavy weight lifted on the bucket arms from lifting the rear tires off the ground. Actually, hopefully, it is heavy enough to transfer some of the weight from the front axle to the rear. The rear of the tractor can handle a lot more weight than the front. It seems odd that the heavy lifting arms are on the front...

The block of cement fits into the three point hitch on the back of the tractor. I used a 3ph draw bar with a bumper hitch mounted on it to attach the weight to the tractor.

09100208 Hitch

The Draw bar and hitch fit into the cavity in the bottom of the block. There is a pair of eight inch long 3/4" bolts embedded in the block that hold it all together.

09100210 Counter weight

On the front, there is a receiving hole for the top link.

09100212 Counter weight

I also molded a V of rebar into the opposite face as a lifting eye. I am not convinced I embedded it far enough, though, so I haven't used that to lift the block. It makes a great place to hook the trailer's safety chains, though.

09100802 Weight on tractor

I made the counter weight because I was often unloading and moving around heavy bins of material from my trailer. I use a flatbed 5 X 10 trailer for picking up loads of manure and wood chips. Since I use the tractor to get the trailer up into the field where the composting is, I need easy access to to a trailer hitch. If I just need ballast and there weren't the complication of pulling the trailer, I could have just used my box blade as a counter weight. But switching between my trailer hitch and box blade chews up a lot of time. With my new counter weight I can tow the trailer without taking it off. It also means I have the counter weight on when I use the tractor to go across the way to the mill and pickup wood chips. I don't really need the counter weight on for loader work, as I have loaded rear tires. But it helps make the tractor more stable.

09100810 Lifting

And when I am unloading the bins it really makes a difference. Each bin holds three or four bucket loads of material. Even though the bins are far lighter than the bucket, the combined weight of material and bin is enough tip the balance of the tractor. And the bins allow the weight to be further from the front axle, giving it more leverage. It isn't safe, and it isn't good for the tractor. To date I had the choice of partially unloading the bins to keep them light enough or taking the time to switch implements on the 3ph. The new regime is a big improvement.

I still have some work to do. This counter weight is smaller than I really want. It took six ninety pound bags of concrete, so about 540 pounds. I really want a little more than one thousand pounds. The plan is to make a second L shaped block. The L will be inverted and hook onto the original block. That is why there is a lip on the back front of this one. I want to be able to store the next one in a position so I can back up to it slip this one under it and pick it up, doubling my counter weight. That way, I have a reasonable counter weight for loader work and a heavy one for bigger jobs that is quick on and off.

There are a couple things I wish I had done differently. I should have embedded one and better yet two 5/8s rebar rods across the block, sticking out about three inches on each side. These would have allowed me to pickup the block with the 3 ph when it is sitting on the ground. As it is, I will need to set it down on something about twelve inches tall in order to pick it up with the 3 ph. I would also have liked to have a second lifting eye on the back and another on the top. And my top link connection is a little hokey. It is two pieces of pipe embedded in the concrete with rebar around it. It seemed like a good idea at he time, but the pipes need to be longer and deeper in the concrete. I also should have used a concrete vibrator. I have some voids. And I could have done the reliefs for the 3 ph draft arms better. All of these things I thought of right after I poured the concrete.

Oh ya, and I should have made a relief for where the trailer side of th hitch is. There is technically enough room there, but I nudge the block with the trailer almost every time I take it off.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Changing the oil in my tractor's transmission

Now, some people might question whether changing the transmission oil in my tractor belongs on a blog about the ins and outs of running a cooperative household. I am going to say it does on mine. Things at the cooperative household have been slow lately. Our last tenant moved out today, and as yet I don't have anyone lined up for one of the three available rooms. And when things are slow, you get other things done. At the moment, it is change the oil in the tractor.

I am changing the oil a little early because I have noticed the power steering has not been as responsive as I want it to be. On my tractor, the steering is provided by a complex set of valves attached to the steering wheel supplying hydraulic pressure to a cylinder that changes the direction of the tires. Think of it that as the steering wheel turns it "pumps" the hydraulic fluid to push the tires to a new orientation. This activity is dependant on the high pressure hydraulic flow from the tractor engine. Without the hydraulic pressure, it is very difficult to effect a turn. Lately I have been noticing a hesitation in my steering in certain conditions. After ruling out some other possibilities I got to the point of ensuring proper hydraulic oil supply to the pump. It could be a blocked filter or pickup screen. To remove and clean the pickup screen, the entire hydraulic sump needs to be drained.

09100659 Draining Oil

The sump holds about 9.6 gallons of hydraulic oil according to the manual. It took a long time for it to drain. I had warmed up the tractor to make the fluid less viscous. I opened the fill cap to prevent suction from building up. It still took more than ten minutes for a 1/2 inch stream of oil to drain out. Time for me to go back to the barn, get other tools and get set up for the next step.

09100662 Screen

As long as I am draining the oil, I am far enough along in this maintenance period that I am doing the scheduled transmission maintenance. Since I was already cleaning the pickup screen and changing the filter, all I had to do in addition was clean the inline screen and change the oil. The inline the screen is that brass colored object amidst the black. It's not nearly as big as the pickup screen. From the pluming it looks like it screens the oil as it returns from the oil intercooler up near the radiator.

09100673 Screen

That's the inline screen disassembled. Pretty clean. That's good, because any contamination that gets this far has traveled through the high pressure side of the hydraulics. Anything other than hydraulic oil oil in there causes damage.

09100667 Suction Screen

This is the pickup screen as I pulled it out. It is basically a tube with many 1/8 inch holes covered with a corrugated fine mesh screen. The pickup screens job is to catch large particles before they get to the pumps and the high pressure side.

09100666 Suction Screen

That corkscrew of metal is a chip left from manufacture. There are a lot of gears and other machined parts inside the transmission and some of the machining may occur after it is assembled which are a source of chips.

This is the pickup screen as I pulled it out of the transmission. There was a small amount of chips and other detritus on the screen, but I would be surprised if it was significantly blocked. I cleaned it, replaced it in the transmission, changed the filter and re-assembled the plumbing. This wasn't a difficult project. It did involve some large wrenches and more force than I am generally accustomed to. And problem solving. The manual described this maintenance procedure in a fourteen point procedure. I think it took me three hours to finish that procedure.

There's been no recurrence of the steering issue or leaks in the hydraulics. I might not be fast, but I am finished.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Turkeys, a work in progress

These are our turkeys on graduation day. This was their first day on grass back in June. And they do like it. They immediately began eating the weeds.

This guy barely escaped the knife today. He was in the group segregated for slaughter today, but some how he slipped out of the enclosure.

My wife and I have an arrangement. She does the plucking, I do the cutting.

We slaughtered one turkey about two weeks ago as a trial. To see what our turkeys were up to in terms of weight. How they would cook up. From that feedback we decided they could use more calories to convert to fat but they were up to size. Today we slaughtered three more. Two for our annual harvest party and one for my folks for Thanksgiving.

These are the necks, livers, hearts and gizzards. They will go into the giblet gravy. We ended up with about 50 lbs of turkey between the three of them.

And enough snacks to last Baloo for a while.