Lister Engine Forum

How to / DIY => Everything else => Topic started by: glort on January 24, 2018, 11:14:51 AM

Title: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: glort on January 24, 2018, 11:14:51 AM

*Warning, Rant Ahead*

This morning while browsing gumtree I spotted an old John Deere lawn Ride on mower for sale.  No deck but otherwise all there and not in the worst condition.
Been looking for a small tractor for months and nothing suitable at a realistic price has come along. I have been dragging the arse out of my beautiful 30 yo Honda mower I bought which is far too good to be straining pulling trees and things around with it so I have been wanting something to use as a tractor/ tug.

This thing advertised had what I wanted, Hydrostatic trans so there is no clutch to stuff up.
Made the guy an offer of $200, he got back to me and said fine and gave me the address which was a JD dealership about an hour from me.  Brought it home and gave it the once over.

Checked oil which was good and clean, fuel tank smelled real fresh, gave it a look around and saw some recent electrical work. Guy said it was a trade on a new mower and wasn't worth their time fixing and having to warrant. I think they tried to make it go and gave up pretty quick.
Battery looked new but of course was flat so put on jumper pack and turned key. Still nothing.  Shorted starter solenoid and it turned over OK but not a cough even with some fuel down the carb.

For a mower the thing has a shipload of wiring on it.  6 30A relays, no idea what for. Only thing I worked out is it had an electric PTO for the cutting deck. Instead of this being a simple switch, it's a great solid lever on a 18" shaft whose only job is to move a tab to contact a momentary Switch!
Usually things are built with cut corners but this was ridiculous!

Not being able to get a pop and not knowing what this birds nest of wiring was, I came in to look up what the 4 Wires going to the engine were. First thing to see if it will run and what condition the engine is in so I wanted to hot wire it just to achieve that.
Found the manuals online and the wiring diagrams.

Stuff me! No wonder I couldn't get it to run, think has more cutouts, lockouts and kill switches that a person could imagine!
There is one that you have to press the brake, your butt has to be in the seat, the bonnet can't be open, the PTO has to be disengaged, there is a fuel solenoid IN the carb itself and there was some other switch I found later I suspect was also a cutout as seemed to have no other functional purpose.

The white wire on the engine look was the kill wire which I saw was one that had been recently played with. Disconnected that, Bit more fuel down the carb, Short the solenoid, immediate pops and off she went. Really nice and smooth and not a wiff of smoke to be seen. It seems someone had already hot wired the carb solenoid otherwise it still should not have run.  Later when I sorted some other things and actually did some work with it, I pulled the carb apart, took out the plunger thing that shuts the fuel off, threw that to all hell and cut the wire off the carb.

I know people are stupid these days and manufacturers have to limit their liability but this is moronic.  I couldn't start the thing for 4 reasons straight off. I wasn't in the seat, I didn't have my foot on the brake, had the PTO engaged which I didn't realise nor did it matter and the bonnet was open. No power to the carb ( there is a great idea, run electricity to the thing with all the petrol in it!) would have been another No go built in.

I have NEVER had an engine with all this crap on it yet I'm still alive as are you all reading this. I wonder how long before we have all this crap on cars and more over, being this mower is 20 yo, why we haven't already?
It's a wonder these things work at all with all these  devises built in to make them NOT work! Especially when they get older, the chances of all these things still operating gets more remote. Some of these switches are as cheap and dodgy looked as they come. I thought one was an old bedside lamp switch someone had put in there till I saw the same thing in the user manual pics.

I can see a reason not to have the thing start with the blades engaged.  Load on the starter all safety things aside and you wouldn't have an automatic car start in gear either. Fair enough. But it won't start/ run? with the bonnet open?  If you are not in the seat? Come on! Never heard of a car that won't start with the bonnet open and there are more dangers in that than on a mower that just has a flat plastic intake guard spinning.

I sorted the key start, just corrosion on the solenoid terminals fixed by taking the female blade terminal on and off a few times.
To shut the thing off, you just pull the throttle right back and it shuts off fine. I could put a kill switch on the dash but don't see the need to bother.
Carb needs ajusting but I'll bet my backside being one of these Emission EPS BS things there is no mixture screw on it to ajust.  Got a Mikuni bike carb up the shed and a heap of jets, bet a 28MM on the thing would make it sit up and beg! Put one on a 160CC 2 stroke push mower I hotted up and that thing was a fire breather! Did 3X original HP.

I had the same thing a few months back with this save you from yourself mentality.
Bought a new petrol leaf blower that wouldn't start. Got it from a place 45 min away so wasn't inclined to take it straight back.  Traced the fault to no spark. It had an on off switch on it and some other grip type switch in the handle.
 Suspected a dodgy kill switch so opened the thing up and I see the kill and this other switch are in series and there is a problem with the grip switch straight off. Disconnected it, went straight to the kill switch, half pulled the cord while it was there in pieces and the thing fired up so quick it surprised me.  Threw the grip switch and it's dodgy mechanism to the shithouse and put it all back together and haven't had a problem since.

I can't stand all this over cautious crap. instead of pandering to idiots and morons, we need to force some personal responsibility on these twits instead of allowing them to think that their well being is someone else's job.  If enough people hurt themseves and word gets around you don't get to sue because you are a flaw in the gene pool, maybe people would wake up.
Then again, the conspiracy theorists might say thats what gubbermints DON"T want. They want to keep people dumb and and brain washed.

I don't think I could argue against that!

Anyway, my little workhorse runs and now to sort the rest of the electrical or just re wire it in a way that makes sense.
Not sure the charging stator is working but because there is no deck on the thing, there is a nice big free pulley underneath.  I'm thinking to mount an enclosed fan 80A alt on the thing and put an inverter on it so the thing can be a mobile generator.  Most of my most used power tools are battery operated now but what the heck.  I want to put a light bar on the thing and fabricate up a bull bar for pushing things, thinking of using the cutter height adjustment for a scraper blade for levelling gardens and top dressing which the lawns will need in the future.

Also want to weld up a big tow bar and maybe something like a 3pt Hitch I can raise and lower with electric actuators.  I was going to put one of my diesel engines on the thing but it would be complicated and really, the petrol engine on the thing now seems to run too dam smooth and hasn't emitted a puff of smoke. 
I might have a look at the exhaust though. Did they put Cats on mowers at any stage?
Like many things, taking off the OEM muffler and putting on a bigger car one would probably let it breathe better and be quieter to boot.  Probably should put on a vertical exhaust with a flapper cap! :0)

Doing to be one of these too much time and over done things I'll have a lot of fun with and it WON"T have a single damn safety devise on the thing!

Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: carlb23 on January 24, 2018, 11:26:37 AM
Don't know what model you have, but, i don't think that hydro drive will live real long using it as a tug/stump puller.   They overheat easily and that is usually what kills them.
Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: glort on January 24, 2018, 12:44:42 PM

That's a good tip.

I noticed what I think was once a fan on the top of the diff is now sans Blades.
Not a lot of finning on the diff itself  but I know airflow makes a big difference.  Thing is pretty greasy too and I wasn't going to worry about it but now you have given me the heads up, I'll clean the thing so it radiates better. I was pulling some empty IBC ( 1000L tanks) around with it today and felt the trans shortly after and it was not very warm at all.

I have some electric fans and some heat switches I just bought so I'll fit them up for auto cooling. They are rated at 40oC so on a hot day they will be on from the start and the rest of the time as soon as the diff heats up.
There is a lot of room under there so shouldn't be a problem. 
I wonder if there is a drain or some fittings to fit an oil cooler?
Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: buickanddeere on January 25, 2018, 03:39:51 AM
What model ? The later units had everything electrically interlocked due to government safety regulations. Some machines  had lawnmower transmissions and other units had tractor transmissions.
Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: glort on January 25, 2018, 03:31:15 PM
About 1999 vintage, definitely lawnmower trans.

Looked at a new drive belt from local dealer. $122.  Ebay, from China, $10.64 delivered.
I had to buy one just out of curiosity. Don't expect it to be a great belt but for a spare, good enough.
When you think that a genuine belt would have to outlast 10 of the china belts to be worthwhile, can't see the cheap belts being that bad.

Belt is a belt really. Not dependent on whether its for a mower, pump or whatever, only the size counts..... other than the inherent quality of course.
Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: oldgoat on January 26, 2018, 01:25:31 PM
Not all v belts are equal. Mower belts use kevlar cord which will stand the reverse bends to go around all the pulleys. If you use a standard V belt for that duty you get a lot of practice replacing them. A cogged belt will last a bit longer with its inherent flexibility.
Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: buickanddeere on January 26, 2018, 06:44:07 PM
Built 1998 to 2001. Transmission is a Tuff Torq K51A. While it is still a lawn mower transmission, it is vastly superior to the K46 used in low to mid line lawn tractors today.
  Transmission has zero tolerance to any dirt whatsoever .  Changed out the factory oil on my tractors K61 from factory oil to 60 wt Amsoil synthetic . If the cooling fan is there and the cooling fins are kept clean. It will tow a small cart .
Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: basewindow on January 26, 2018, 11:04:21 PM
Ah Glort, i see you to are enjoying the delights of having and old ride on mower to work on.

I bought an  95 MTD  a few years ago and your description of the issues you found made me laugh. I went through many of the same with mine when i was repairing it, finding all the cut off switches, some of which had been bypassed etc (actually bypassed is not the right word really, simply cut off and left hanging) a rats nest of wiring mess, missing belt guards, frame requiring welding in spots, the list goes on. I ended up rewiring most of it, put in a volt and ammeter. For a 20+ year old engine it runs well. It now needs new drive belts which is a simple enough job but just time consuming.

From experience having consumed a number of cutting belts before i got it right, they are varing in quality according to price and can be very model specific. Cutting belts on mine are a five minute job for replacement so it wasn't an issue experimenting  with various ones.

Seeing the drivebelts are a PITA to replace im going for the more expensive.

Good luck with your beast.
Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: glort on January 27, 2018, 12:03:18 AM
It will tow a small cart .

Already been towing more than that.
Moved the trailer round with it, dragged round some IBC';s and tried it on the lister but Couldn'[t get enough grip.
Not going to be pulling stuff for hours, yard isn't big enough but I think it will do what I want.

I noticed all the deck height adjustment is still there.  Thinking of having a better look and maybe building something like a scraper for levelling gardens and dirt etc. Might need a fan on it for cooling for doing that.  Bottom line is this thing cost me $200. The engine alone is worth that and so is not breaking my Honda which may be 30 YO but is in fantastic condition and something I don't want to flog the guts out of. If I break the JD, Meh,  it was bought to be more or less sacrificial anyway.

Still looking for a Kubota BX anyway and this is just a fill in.  Probably good for when I do get the kubota for hauling a cart with dirt or rubbish.

From experience having consumed a number of cutting belts before i got it right, they are varing in quality according to price and can be very model specific.

Yeah, pretty much expected this is going to be a cut corners job. It is a Kevlar type, checked that but the rest remains to be seen.  Belt on this looks a bit complicated but may be easier once I work it out.  Took me 20 Min to get the deck off the Honda first till till I worked it out. Took about 2 min literally to get it back on once I replaced all the nails and bits of bent wire with the proper R clips again.  A Little practice goes a long way as well.
Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: ajaffa1 on January 27, 2018, 09:29:15 PM
Please don`t start me on the subject of lawn mowers. I own four of the bloody things. I spend much more time fixing them than I ever do using them. Yesterday my push mower lost power, stripped the carb and cleaned it. Replaced the sparkplug and air filter. No improvement. Finally traced the problem to the built in fuel filter at the bottom of the fuel tank. 3 hours tinkering, a two hour round trip into town for parts only one hour spent cutting grass. I`m thinking of getting some sheep, when they stop working I get to eat them!

Title: Re: Saving Us from ourselves.
Post by: glort on January 27, 2018, 10:19:18 PM

Many years back I had a VERY profitable little sideline going repairing Mowers.

A client owned a Mower shop and in summer was over run. He'd have all these tradeins around the place that he never got time to look at because he was busy doing repairs but 10 people a day coming in looking for a used mower.  He reckoned he couldn't get much for the used mowers but I reckoned there was demand so we could do OK.

He used to supply all the parts and I'd take them home, strip them down and do whatever they needed including rebuilding.  I used to do 6 at a time in batches which was the number I could fit in my trailer to take back and forth.
I had them down to about 1 hour each for a total rebuild which was often the easiest and fastest way.  The main mower used here was a 2 stroke so easy to work on and VERY tough. 

I printed up these guarantee certificates on pink coloured paper and Mrs put Curly ribbon on them and we'd stick them out the front of the shop.
The word "guaranteed" could be read from the road as the tags swung in the breeze and we sold the things faster than I could rebuild them for 3 times the price the guy had been getting.  We split the profits and it was Very successful.

There was little to go wrong with those things, only ones I had back was one I forgot to Tighten the coil plate and another where the guys son borrowed the thing and forgot to put oil in the petrol. He knew the problem and bought it back to trade for another of our reco specials cause he had been so happy with the thing. I rebuilt it and gave it back to him and he was even happier. 

I used to mainly deal with clients at night and didn't have much on through the day and found getting up the back and getting my hands dirty was fun and enjoyable as well as profitable.  Pulling each engine apart and looking at it was like reading it's life story. You could often tell what had been done to the things. Very few were worn out, most were neglected or abused. Amazing the amount of people that didn't put oil in the things.  Quite a few we found the things had very recently been recoed and the engine was excellent but something like a wisker on the plug or loose points had stopped them and people just wanted one that went. They were the real profitable ones where no parts and little time was required.

Push mowers have nothing to them, I can see the ride on's are a whole different ball game however. I discovered another lockout on my JD yesterday, something near the Diff. It truly is a wonder these things run at all with all the effort put into stopping them from going.

Nephew said brother in laws rideon was in the shop yesterday. He was mowing and the blades would continually stop turning. 
$1000 says another  Save yourself from yourself switch gone bad.