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 Post subject: Ye Olde Tractor
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:32 pm
Posts: 4551
Location: Dearborn, MI
Year and Trim: '93 SSEi
'05 STS-4
'97 Camaro
'97 LeSabre
So a few of you know about the never-ending saga of the lawn mower. Yes, like a few projects I have, I had a 1984 Ford LGT-17 that was a complete basket case. Got it for like $100, got it running with an electric fuel pump and new ignition. Points are stupid, hey it's like 2015-2019 while I had this, and we have these fancy things called transistors and low-resistance coils, so why bother with points (adjusting them every month, the bi-monthly replacement of the condensers, etc...).

After much experimenting with a custom electronic ignition using a GM HEI module and a simple proximity switch, the original KT-17 threw a rod (surprise surprise, it was a series 1 and known for oiling issues). So I found a drop-in replacement (mostly anyhow) Kohler Magnum 18 and after 5 years of fighting with points and points savers and a full blown electronic ignition, I had a magneto engine that starts on the first try no matter what. I got to actually use the snowblower, which was oversized for the tractor but worked well, and was all set to mow the lawn for the first time - on time, before it grew 12 inches a week.

Well, I started it up this spring, switched everything over to the blade to clean up the fire pit, and everything was going great until I hear this CRUNCH clack clack clack clack clack and of course it stopped moving. Motor was still running, and nothing was flopping around in a self-destructive manner, so I figured I must have broke a shear pin with the extra hp from the new motor. But, alas, I done broke it good this time. It was the 90 degree gearbox for the drive output:
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The splined end of the output shaft wore out inside the bevel gear, and finally stripped. I thought about welding it, but that whole thing was pressed together and no provisions to press it back apart - and no way could I even think about getting a good weld without completely disassembling and de-greasing, and then hope it's enough to hold. So, here I am, with a basket case of a tractor, on cinder blocks with no way to repair or replace the integral drive part. And lets face it, the baby frame and sheet metal barely qualified this as a riding lawn mower.
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Typical me decided it was time to make something stupid from something junk. The Magnum engine was still good, and makes gobs of power. So it was time to put it in a real tractor. I had already got a pair of old John Deere 216's from my dad, originally intending to finish the job of making one good tractor out of them. My plans changed. After some test fitting and realizing just how massive the twin cylinder Kohler is compared to the orginal single cylinder from the 216, I broke out the cutting tools and extended the solid 1/4" thick frame.
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Followed by several rounds of test fitting, trying to minimize the amount of hacking and slashing, giving up and going full retard:
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At this point, I'm still in it for the cost of some filler rod and scrap I had on hand. Fairly pleased with the fit and clearances I set to making the engine mount and continued progress. Had to make a custom drive pulley, thankfully the local farm supply had the usual assortment of weld on hub and pulley systems:

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Swapped the good tires over the the JD, and it's back on all 4. Also had fun using a bycicle brake line kit to make a new throttle and choke; :
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Completely removed the original wiring harness, no sense in butchering up something I might need to restore the other tractor. Built my own from scratch, and maintained the one system that makes this tractor unique; the elecra-lift!
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And now, the drumroll. The biggest headache of the entire build! The original PTO for this motor bolted directly to the motor; there was no drive pulley as it had a driveshaft on the other side. Also the crankshaft on this was a 1-1/8" PTO, whereas the JD stuff was all 1". In order to get a PTO on here I had to put my engineering hat on. The PTO couldn't bolt to the block, becaust then the PTO pulley wouldn't line up with the tractor belt pulleys. That meant I had to flip it. But then what do I mount it to? I don't want to have to remove the PTO just to change a belt... After lots of measuring and test fitting I came up with the solution. I hurried to get the first out of pocket cost part to the waterjet:
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The PTO mounts to the end of the crankshaft now. The bearing and coil are pressed into the aluminum bracket. The fourth tab on the bracket is for anti-rotation and the wiring routes along it. The aluminum bracket floats on the crankshaft, two springs isolate it from the hard mount on the block. The belt can slide in from the bottom and pull up over the top of the entire PTO assembly allowing it to be installed without removing any parts. This was probably the most difficult part I've ever had to make thus far. Press fit tolerances on a ~70 year old lathe? Yeah, I had to come close undersize and use 1000 grit sandpaper to grind it to as close as possible, then loctite 680 for the bearing and the coil. I also ended up welding some bolts to the back of the coil to use as an added retaining feature.

Now that all the hard stuff is out of the way I got to start on the sheet metal. Had to do a bunch of hacking to get the front mount back in place, but as it sits now it's beginning to look like a tractor again!
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I only have a little ways left to go on this one. Now that the hood is mounted I can finish up the exhaust and exhaust heat shields, the vents for them, and clean up the sheet metal fab work. I finally managed to touch base with the nearest JD graveyard (some guy with like 150 of these garden tractors for parts) to round up another side cover, steering wheel, and a few misc. parts.

The nice thing about this is that while the 216 was a great little tractor with lots of implements (that I still have), the single cylinder engine was just not capable. It would bog down mowing with a 46" deck in grass that was dense or tall. The Magnum engine I have, with it's extra cylinder, would just chug along to the point that belts just slipped. Aside from fancy features like a hydro, hydraulic lift, or double brake pedals this 216 should be able to keep up with it's bigger brothers; the 316 and 318.

216, I dub thee, 218M. The paint and graphics will happen soon enough!

_________________
Blow all the things! Wait, I meant boost. Boost!
Image

Runs:
'93 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi - Twincharged, manual, and lots more! Build thread
'97 Chevy Camaro - 3800 supercharged, T5, T-tops
'05 Cadillac STS - V8, AWD, her DD
'92 Olds Trofeo - Fair weather DD
'84 GMC Sierra Classic - Twin turbo 3800
'97 Buick LeSabre - L67 winter DD
'92 Pontiac Bonneville SSE future project

Doesn't run:
'87 Buick LeSabre T-type - future victim
'67 Buick LeSabre - future victim


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 Post subject: Re: Ye Olde Tractor
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:41 am 
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Certified Bonneville Nut
Certified Bonneville Nut
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:32 pm
Posts: 4551
Location: Dearborn, MI
Year and Trim: '93 SSEi
'05 STS-4
'97 Camaro
'97 LeSabre
More progress!

Between the three decks I had available, this one was the one that was in the second best shape. No through holes but there were a few cracks and heavy pitting in the top where water/grass collect. Typical rust damage that happens when the deck is not cared for.
Note that the one in the best shape is staying with the tractor that is getting restored and not modified.

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I completely tore the deck down to fix all of the worn out parts. One of the things that bothers me about this deck is that the rollers ride directly on the hardware, no bearings at all. So, I fixed that:
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Then I fixed all the metal on the deck. I ended up welding up the worst of the pitting, fixing a bunch of cracks and thin metal areas from wear. The area's susceptible to rot got a POR-15 coating, the rest painted to something close to john deere yellow. Again, for the modified tractor, I'm not bothered by everything being perfectly color matched to factory.
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Almost finished! I rebuilt all three spindles and sharpened and balanced the mulching blades. The idlers were surprisingly in OK shape, the bearings had been sealed but the seals were just starting to degrade. The amount of effort to separate the idler halves to get to the bearings is not worth it IMO, so I removed the seals and re-packed them with grease. They should last the season at least.
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Had to modify the front mount plate and get a longer belt to accommodate the longer frame on the tractor, but everything else was essentially bolt on.
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Then the test run:
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So far everything works; and wow is this thing a quiet runner! The deck is so quiet it doesn't even sound like it's on compared to what I'm used to. I found that I've got some alignment adjustments to make, one of the idlers on the tensioner is slightly off and I don't like it. However, this thing performs better than I thought. In the picture above, right about where the disc golf net is the grass was about 8 inches tall already, and it's thick. The tractor chewed through it in 3rd gear at full till and wasn't even phased by it! I was used to having to pull in the variator (CVT) to slow it down through the thick part which is what I would have done with the old single cylinder.

All that left now are some tweaks to pulley alignment, I think the deck was used as a step and is bent low in the front corners, I need to finish the sheet metal welding and stuff, put my sweet leather seat on it, paint, etc. The left cover panel I need to find some of that perforated sheet that deere used on other tractors to modify it to fit as it's really tight to the motor on that side. The right cover only needs to be slightly trimmed at the bottom edge to fit. Oh, and the one tire is still leaking at the bead so I want to pull that back off and clean that up again.

_________________
Blow all the things! Wait, I meant boost. Boost!
Image

Runs:
'93 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi - Twincharged, manual, and lots more! Build thread
'97 Chevy Camaro - 3800 supercharged, T5, T-tops
'05 Cadillac STS - V8, AWD, her DD
'92 Olds Trofeo - Fair weather DD
'84 GMC Sierra Classic - Twin turbo 3800
'97 Buick LeSabre - L67 winter DD
'92 Pontiac Bonneville SSE future project

Doesn't run:
'87 Buick LeSabre T-type - future victim
'67 Buick LeSabre - future victim


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 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Ye Olde Tractor
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:30 am 
Offline
Certified Bonneville Nut
Certified Bonneville Nut
User avatar

Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:32 pm
Posts: 4551
Location: Dearborn, MI
Year and Trim: '93 SSEi
'05 STS-4
'97 Camaro
'97 LeSabre
Number two is up and running!
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I need to find a better solution to the old tires leaking air around the bead, aside from just gluing them or something silly.

I also learned that all of the spray can 'color matched' paints, I tried three different brands, are all garbage quality. The second tractor is finally re-painted to the original color, needs some touch up but again; poor quality...

I decided I don't care about color matching the paint on the one I'm keeping, I'd rather make it simple and easy to deal with.

_________________
Blow all the things! Wait, I meant boost. Boost!
Image

Runs:
'93 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi - Twincharged, manual, and lots more! Build thread
'97 Chevy Camaro - 3800 supercharged, T5, T-tops
'05 Cadillac STS - V8, AWD, her DD
'92 Olds Trofeo - Fair weather DD
'84 GMC Sierra Classic - Twin turbo 3800
'97 Buick LeSabre - L67 winter DD
'92 Pontiac Bonneville SSE future project

Doesn't run:
'87 Buick LeSabre T-type - future victim
'67 Buick LeSabre - future victim


Top
 Profile  
 
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