Saturday, November 7, 2009

Leafing Rig, the Sequel

So far, so good with the 812.

I spent an hour or so today getting it ready to work as the front end of my leafing rig, then hooked it up and filled a couple of boxes before I ran out of light. To get it ready, I needed to do a handful of things to it:

  • Swap the hitch ball. It was too small, as I guessed it would be, but the mounting hole was sized for automotive hitch balls, rather than proprietary bits like my 430's was. Convenient, to say the least, and the 2" ball I'd had to adapt to the 430 bolted right on.
  • I mounted the Trac-Vac chute to it. The chute is a little banged up from 3 or 4 seasons mounted up to the 430. And it fit the 430's 40" deck better than this one's 50"-er, but I was able to make it work reasonably well.
  • I replaced a drag wheel on the deck. I actually took one from my gas grill, which I'd repaired with lawnmower wheels a few years ago. Home Depot specials, but metal centers, not nylon.
  • I adjusted the mixture screw on the carburetor to lean it out, some. I also dropped the idle speed a bit, because it seemed unnecessarily high.
  • I re-gapped the points, and reinstalled the points cover. That seems to have helped starting. It runs like a champ, actually. The smoke belching out is also just gray, now, so it looks like straight-up oil smoke. Needs new rings, it would seem -- or maybe they're just stuck. If I end up keeping the tractor for next year, I'll have to get that looked at.

Some quick points and impressions of my first couple of hours using it:

  • It's definitely not sissified. The tractor seems to go up hills just as readily as the 430 did, full trailer and all. It's got power aplenty and I don't get the sense that the hydrostatic transmission has a problem transmitting the torque to the ground.
  • The gearing is definitely more usable. It's got a fast reverse, two ranges and four speeds. The top gear is a sort of "road" gear in either range, and it helps me get out of the way much more readily when I have to loop onto the road to turn around (it happens).
  • The brakes stink. The independent axle brakes on the 430 were much more useful than the single transmission brake on the 812.
  • The hitch seems very sturdy, despite my misgivings about its design.
  • The deck seems a bit healthier than the one on my 430, but not radically so. It's wider, though, so I can actually snort up more leaves per pass. The leaves are nice and dry right now, which makes it easier too. If I hang onto it, a new pan might be worthwhile, but I'd need to pull it apart to see how all the pieces are doing, first. This deck, btw, looks exactly like the one that came with my walk-behind. That one had a spindle go bad, and I replaced it 5-6 years ago with a brand new Gravely 50" deck -- one of the last available after they stopped making them. The pan was in better shape than this one, and it had new drag wheels and other new parts on it. This is not the first day I've regretted discarding it, rather than keeping it around for parts.
  • The shape of this seat does not facilitate riding around with my girls, unfortunately.

Tomorrow I'm going to get back out there to make a bit more progress. I have Ava for the day, so we'll see what her appetite is for helping. First, I'll need to go over to the auto parts store to get a quart of oil, a container of Marvel Mystery Oil, and a new spark plug. I'll also get a container of some engine degunking stuff to mix with the oil in the hopes that its problem with smoking has more to do with stuck rings than worn cylinder walls. If that fails, mabe dump a little kerosene into the cylinder and let it leak down into the oil for a few days before having the engine pulled apart for new rings.

The plug is for the truck loader's engine. I broke the insulator off the old one yanking the wire off. It doesn't have a kill switch, you see. So I have to pull the plug wire, which is more comfortably done with a stick (or the handle of a rake, in this case) than a gloved hand -- less zapping involved that way, but unfortunately a bit more breakage of plugs.

And before I climb on, I'm going to grease up the spindles on the mower deck, as well. Anything with a grease fitting or cup, for that matter. I'm hoping I've learned my lesson re: lubricating stuff!

A lesson I already know is that I need to use a little restraint, here. I've already dreamed up a half dozen things I could do to it to improve it. But now is really not the time...

All for now,


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