Steering again 
I finally got around to acquiring a replacement steering casting to replace the cracked and crumbling original. I bought it off J. P. Bell of Scunthorpe. His shed is an Aladdin's cave with tractor parts from floor to ceiling so I'm sure I'll be visiting him again!

I removed the steering shaft from the "new" casting and just like on mine the top bearing immediately disintegrated scattering rusty rollers everywhere. I suppose this is because the bearing relies entirely upon being kept well greased, there is no way for oil to work up to it. Luckily my original lower bearing was in good condition so the pair of lower sets of rollers gave me a complete set of parts. I used the "new" steering shaft as my old one was bent and the threaded part pretty smashed in from removing the totally rusted on steering wheel.

The casting is in fine condition however the dashboard fixing bolts were sheared off at the rear which took some effort to knock out. Also the rusted remains of the four pins which secure the serial number plate were wedged in their holes. Three knocked out with minimal effort but one was stuck fast. I ended up removing a fair amount of metal from the inside of the casting around the hole before it finally came free. I filled this crater with steel epoxy and re-drilled the hole before finally giving the whole thing a coating of primer.

The steering column is now fully rebuilt and back on the tractor so I can finally move the tractor without the fun and games of front wheels that point in different directions!

No photos for now unfortunately because the old "broken" camera that I use to take pics out tractoring has finally given up the ghost completely. I'll have to remember to take some photos with my good camera next time I'm out there before I get my hands dirty.

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Back together 

The back end is all back together and filled with fresh oil!

I've jacked one of the wheels up so the diff could turn and run the tractor for a bit to work all the oil around the gears and diff.

The lift arms shoot up instantly now and don't drop with me sat on the fork even hours after the engine is switched off, so I think that proves there's no wear on the hydraulic internals! Must have just been leaks through the valves caused by grit. Obviously not had a chance to put any real weight on the lift yet and set up the stops but I can relax a bit now that the back end is filled with oil again.

Before I run the tractor again I really must get the missing air filter parts sorted out because the governor is very twitchy with such a low vacuum. I had a sheet of plastic with a small hole in over the end of the intake while I was testing the hydraulics. Not ideal at all...

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Squidgy Muck 
Today I cracked open the back end and removed the pump and lifting parts. The inside of the back end was in a terrible state with thick muck in every crevice, it's no wonder the hydraulics weren't very effective. After flushing out the muck with petrol and a very thorough hose down it's looking much much closer to being "scrupulously clean" as demanded by the manual!

Now I just need a sunny day to dry it all out again so I don't end up with water in the oil again! (when I opened the drain tap below the gearbox I got a fair bit of water before any oil appeared...)

The pump has scrubbed up very nicely. I opened one of the valves up to check the condition inside and there's no muck in there at all. I don't think I'll bother stripping the pump down any further because there doesn't seem to be any wear or damage. With some good clean oil it should work as well as the day it left the factory

The lift gear is unfortunately not so pretty... I can't get in to clean the sludge out properly, and there's been a lot of corrosion and damage to the top link parts. I can't get the yoke part to unscrew so it's soaking in WD40 overnight and I'll try lots of heat and leverage tomorrow.

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New Bits 
Drill bits that is... I've got some tractor bits on order at my local MF dealer too, but I won't get them until Thursday.
I've been preparing for the job of stripping down the hydraulic system, which can commence just as soon as I get the bolts I need to put the wheel back on so I can get it into the garage. I've gone around and loosened every bolt on the inspection panels and where the castings mate. Three of the bolts were rusty and wouldn't budge (couldn't get any grip on them with the spanner cause the heads were so messed up) so they had to be drilled/smashed. Two of them unscrewed eventually after the heads had been battered about a bit, the other I managed to snap off and it should screw out with the big grips once I've lifted the casting off.

All our big drill bits were hopelessly blunt so I popped into B&Q and got some new ones, 8mm and 10mm. Two of each so that when the one I'm using snaps or goes blunt (or spontaneously explodes into several bits like a 5mm one did to me yesterday...) I won't have to abandon a half drilled hole!
It's amazing the difference a good sharp drill makes, it went through the metal like butter. Yesterday I could barely scratch it.

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Drilling Screws 
This is one of the two screws that secures the left hand brake drum:

That took some serious drilling and chiselling (well ok, blunt screwdrivering, I don't have a proper chisel but it's a hot day, the metal is very soft)

amazingly the only rust is on the screw head, the thread is clean and once we got it free (my dad helped, taking turns to stand whacking the screws) it unscrewed by hand.

I suspect that the screws had been overtightened or were the wrong kind of screw. looking at the thread the last two or three mm or the shaft were not threaded, but had been driven into the hole, cutting back the face of the metal. I reckon this is what was binding and it took a lot of force to free it.

I've got the left hand brake dismantled now so I just need to clean it all up the same as the other one and put it all back together. There's absolutely no sign of oil either which is great, means I don't have to get the halfshaft out and fit a new seal like the last one.

I lost an ebay auction for a new steering column casting last night so I'm still no closer to getting that bit put back together. I think the next job when the brakes are back together is to crack the top of the hydraulic system open and dismantle that. Once that's all stripped down, cleaned, and repaired (hopefully nothing needing major attention) I will be able to write the rear end off as complete and maybe even put a rough first coat of primer on!

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