Splitting a tractor Part II: 7 Rules for the Compleat Idiot

November 3, 2013

Today has provided a series of lessons:

1. When you’ve bolted everything back together and you’re all ready to do the triumphant drive around the yard in your recently-repaired tractor, the battery will be dead.

2. If the hydraulic pump makes a horrible noise when the engine starts up, don’t panic. It’s air in the system. If it continues to make an unpleasant noise while running, check the auxiliary levers in case one is stuck.

3. Splined shafts are connected to universal joints with spring pins driven through carefully-alligned holes in both. They require a wire run through the hollow pins with the ends brought back and twisted together outside the shaft. If you do not have any wire, stop the project at this point until you have some.

4. In the drive tunnel of a Bolens compact tractor there isn’t enough space for a pair of pliers to twist two strands of wire together if the front drive shaft is in the way. It must be removed again to complete the job. See rule #3.

5. Count the items left over in the parts tray. If there is a remaining spring pin, it came from somewhere. Find the universal joint with the missing pin before driving the tractor a mile into the woods on a test run.

6. A loud clunking noise doesn’t necessarily mean disaster. If the front drive shaft universal has a missing pin, it will eventually come loose when the tractor is running in 4WD. The same rig seemed willing enough to idle along in 2WD on the limp back to the garage, though.

7. Rod’s rule of 30: if you think you have made all of the mistakes possible in the installation of spring pins, you’ll discover one more. In this case I carefully pinned the errant universal joint just past the end of the drive shaft, allowing the shaft to fall out as soon as I had finished wiring the pin into place. Hey, it was dark in there. From now on I’ll look at the inside of the universal joint for the end of the drive shaft before pinning it.

8. Replacing a spline boss on a Bolens G174 is a lot like setting your hair on fire and putting it out with a hammer. If feels so good when you’ve finished.

UPDATE: 4 November, 2013

I used the Bolens all afternoon to move firewood into the shop. It’s good to have it back in service.

UPDATE: 26 October, 2014

The Bolens has seldom sat for long over the last year as there is usually something around the farm which needs to be moved.

With the dump trailer it has seen duty hauling firewood and prunings from the walnut and butternut plots.

It mowed under overhanging walnut trees with the 48″ bush hog this summer.

It jockeyed trailers.

The heaviest work it faced came on two construction projects of friends: it dragged a 5′ box blade to strip away clay and replace it with gravel under a large deck in Newboro, getting buried in wet clay in the process.

With the dump box it hauled about 35 yards of gravel around the footings of a new house near Chaffey’s Locks until the “Big O” pipe was properly bedded. Most recently I have put a tank of diesel through it while raking the leaves off the two acres surrounding the house with a Brinley 48″ lawn sweeper.

It was certainly worthwhile making the repair to the spline boss on this excellent and useful little tractor.

UPDATE: 14 July, 2014

The Bolens is still going strong, seeing action just about daily around the property. It is particularly useful in conjunction with the dump trailer.


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