Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘yard tractor

Same Result

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Last fall I bought a new yard tractor to mow grass. It’s a level up from the model we took on from the previous property owners, with a much sturdier mowing deck and improved steering. Now that I’ve had an opportunity to use it a couple of times, I’m able to judge its worth.

Performance is improved in all areas except one. Despite the inclusion of hose fittings to wash the underside of the deck with water, it collects grass and needs cleaning just the same as the previous one.

Since it was new, I decided to give the suggested water cleaning steps a chance, despite everything I’ve heard debunking the method. It just seems wrong to be getting the nooks and crannies of metal parts wet.

The results were as underwhelming as I’d expected.

Having mastered removing the deck for cleaning on the old mower, I figured it would be just as easy on this one, allowing me to turn it over to see the results directly.

In total neglect of checking any instructions, I boldly forged ahead to remove clips at the attachment points. Right away I realized, there was no handy lever to release tension on the belt. That didn’t stop me from getting it apart, but I knew it was going to complicate getting it all hooked up again after I was done.

Flipping the deck quickly revealed the gross limitations of the water method for cleaning. That might work if all you did was cut a short length of grass blades from a lush lawn. My reality involves a lot more weeds, small branches, dirt, and dust, combined with occasional areas of thick, too-long grass which packs on a complex brick of debris to the underside of the deck.

The sprayed water didn’t come close to being effective enough.

When it came time to reattach the deck, I made multiple futile attempts before finally wrestling all the clips in place at all the attachment points. All that remained was to get the belt over the pulley.

No matter what contortion of positions I tried, I didn’t have enough hands or leverage to muscle that belt in place. I knew there must be a logical procedure I wasn’t figuring out.

Yeah. This is the part where I went inside and consulted the manual again.

Surprise! There is a little square hole on the arm of the tensioning pulley intended for the post of a ratchet driver that would allow for enough leverage to get the belt over the engine pulley. Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?

I also learned that I had removed two clips too many, which complicated the task unnecessarily.

So, cleaning the deck ends up being the same result as the old yard tractor, but properly informed, it will ultimately involve an easier process of removal and re-attachment.

Overall, I’m happy to report being very satisfied with the upgrade!



Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Mowing Again

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Last Tuesday, my 2018 lawn mowing season officially began. I had a little time, it was between rain showers, and it was dry enough that I was able to do a brief test cut on the small patch of grass on the south side of the barn. The grass there seemed to have a serious head start compared to everywhere else.

The reason it was a ‘test’ cut, is the mower. You may recall I bought a new yard tractor to replace the old Craftsman that was giving multiple end of life hints. When the new one arrived last fall, I barely had time to run it before winter took over. I hadn’t taken time to read the manual, so for the maiden voyage I couldn’t figure out the interlock to keep the mower blades spinning when backing up.

I just kept restarting to hastily finish the back hill before it got dark.

When I finished, I looked through the manual and learned the yellow triangle warning symbol was also a button to be pushed. D’oh!

This brings me to Tuesday, when I was doing horse chores and walking Delilah, but not prepared to mow. Except, the grass was so long out there and the rain seemed to be holding off. What the heck, I decided to go for it.

I didn’t actually remember how to keep the mower on when backing up, but I remembered that it was head-slap simple when I discovered the trick in the fall, so that was my primary focus. The other issue was seeing if it would start easily, after sitting so long with old gas in it.

I clipped Delilah’s leash to the railing and opened the garage. She had no idea what I was up to.

After topping off the tank with some less-old, but not necessarily fresh gas, I was ready to try. But, this new tractor doesn’t have a separate choke control like the old one. The throttle was all the way up, so I just turned the key and hoped.

Somewhat begrudgingly, it coughed to a start. I figured a little black smoke and rough run was a reasonable response after the long winter, so I forged ahead, proud that I quickly figured out the interlock for backing up.

I mowed for ten minutes or so, hoping the engine would warm up and settle down, but it seemed to chug the entire way through. After finishing the small area, and before the rain started to fall, I rushed the tractor back to the garage.

Since it was still running rough, I decided to pull the throttle down to a slow idle and then ramp it back up, to see how it might respond before shutting it off.

As I pulled the lever down, it popped out of the choke position and into the normal operating range and the engine purred like brand new.

I found the choke control. I had just mowed with it on the whole time.


At least the rain is bringing spring flowers.



Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2018 at 7:57 am