30 April 2018

Toro 580D - pushing the limits

After a brief hiatus,
looks like I can finally write again!

The mowing season is starting.
Night temps are in the 40's,
so grass is growing,
however the ground is a bit wet.

Mowing is like mud bogging and off-roading.
This Toro 580D is a 4wd unit,
with monster front tires,
one of the few capable machines for this.

This bank runs alongside the entrance.
It's got a good slope,
which the mower travels on sideways.
I tried to cut to the top,
but the 5000 lb mower didn't like it.
The grass was tall enough to bog the engine,
then with both wings down,
the left tire started digging in.
Holey Chit!!
Not good to be stuck up there!

Lifting the left wing gave some traction,
but turned the body slightly up the hill.
Not a good feeling!
On a bank you're not sposta go in reverse,
but there weren't too many options.
Backing up straightened the machine out,
but the 4wd only plowed forward a little bit,
until the tires lost their grip,
and the back end started sliding down the hill!
Holey Double Chit!!

It was like slow motion.
Somehow I balanced the wings,
and maneuvered down the slope.
It was crazy but fun.
No soiling of the pants!

I checked the machine,
then continued on like nothing happened...
The dirt scar will be there for a while!
So far I've been stuck 3x this year,
bringing my grand total to 12,
which means a couple dozen close calls.
Now I should know not get too close to downhill fences,
and I should know when there's a mud bog.
The problem is trying to get that last tuft of tall grass.
It's like the bait of a quicksand trap.
Fortunately getting winched out is part of the job!
This one was technically in December,
in a spot on the border of our responsibility line.

I was going round and round,
closer to this sharp incline,
and got too cocky.
I thought "speed" or momentum would get me through,
but all it did was jack the front wheels above the dirt.

Good times!!


21 March 2018


Heres a recent whoops...
A perfect candidate 
for the good ole bait and switch technique.
Can you spot what happened in this picture?
At lunch break I parked the silver bullet truck
in the way of our much larger flatbed.
Holey chit!!
Well what else was I gonna do the next day?
The guys keep me busy that's for sure.
Shops got some fun tools,
although they need work to work.
The portapower was dry of oil.
Very handy if rarely used tool.
The tailight surround had limited access,
a little heat and hammering was enough
to at least zip tie the light back in.
The bait and switch was repainting
the bright blue banding reel.
Unsurprisingly the dent is barely noticed!

24 February 2018


Holey Chit!!
It's been almost 3 months!!!
Had a few hiccups this year,
writing had some difficulty flowing.
However pics and projects haven't stopped.
Let's start with a semi-recent work project...
This was a super-leaky and almost seized 
berkeley water pump.
A dozen years ago they simply replaced it,
but the not-too-local shop wanted almost $2800!!
I'm sure a rebuild woulda been cheaper,
if it wasn't for the "lets hit it with a hammer to loosen it" situation.
The broken packing gland/housing is cast iron.
I tried stick welding with the special rod,
but access was limited.

The easiest solution was brazing.
Not the prettiest but it's dang strong.
The previous dissassembly was a pita.
I ended up cutting the shaft in pieces,
welded a bolt to the impeller section,
and used an impact gun to twist it out.
I couldn't resist some rattlecan wonder.
At the time it was in the 30's,
so the stockroom was heated up as a spray booth.
The assembly was a piece of cake.
The new shaft is stainless steel,
so it should last forever compared to the original.
The rebuild kit was about $600,
after time and materials,
this saved over half the rebuild estimate.
And I was able to fix a broken impact gun
while the paint dried.
The guys at work will never get new equipment!
The worst was yet to come.
Before installation,
a 5-gallon bucket of rust was scooped out of the tank.
I was trying to get out of this type of work,
by going to a cushy city job.
Oh well!
The plate shield had deteriorated to dust.
I hammered out a bolt-in screen,
hopefully this keeps the pump healthy.
The tank already had some rust through holes,
the thickness probably half in most places.
An experiment with a couple boat zincs
may stall any electrolysis from the mineral rich well water.
All wrapped up!
Let's see how long it lasts...
More soon!

18 December 2017

A day in the life... Leaf Battle

In this late fall season there is a battle,
a consistent yet finite barrage of falling leaves.
The ground crew is hindered 
by the suffocated grass they try to protect,
as the ground is too soft for faster but heavier equipment.
Ruts are bad.
Here the tools of choice are backpack blowers,
and possibly these gas powered side blowers.
Funny thing is all three were broken.
Bad head gasket on #1,
bad exhaust manifold/muffler on #2,
and a coil on #3.
The coil was easy,
I just swapped one from the bad head gasket donor.
The guys were all over it,
justifying the fix of the other two.
The replacement exhaust manifold had a screw on outlet,
but nothing to screw in.
I raided the scrap pile for tubes and pipe fittings,
and welded up a custom muffler.
All that practice with hot rods, boats,
motorized bikes and scooters...
The new silencer worked perfectly,
quieter than most of our engine tools here.
The first day went well,
other than the mini front roller digging into the soft grass.
No problem.
Some quick brackets and a fat roller wheel...
Zip zip with a welder and voila!
Now get out of here and start blowing leaves...
There are acres of leaves...
To pick them up.
there's a Toro Rake-O-Vac,
basically a trailer vacuum/rake,
that hadn't worked in a couple years.
New battery,
an overpriced coil,
and this was good to go.
It works great on unpiled leaves.
One of the guys pulled a full load to the compost area,
hit a whoop-de-doo in the road,
that opened up the trap door,
spilling a compacted pile that took 2 hours to clean.
Now nobody wants to use it!
Then they dug up this thing,
a stadium vacuum,
previously attached to a broken buggy.
It worked great til the hose broke for the umpteenth time.
The fallback is the good old pitchfork.
Manual labor at its finest.
Scoop by scoop...
the leaves slowly disappear.
Until one of the trucks takes a chit.
A busted starter allowed the fix of a lingering oil leak,
probably the rear main seal.
This meant tearing out the transmission,
fun on a 4x4 with a transfer case.
Years ago work had traded a local junkyard a broken vehicle,
for this ford ranger which had a bad transmission,
along with a replacement.
The previous mechanics got it running,
but cranked every bolt so tight they were barely able to unthread.
The exhaust wouldn't come off without breaking a bolt.
To make room I cut and hammered the welded seam lip,
visible on the top there.
While I did technical stuff 
like cut out a hard to find gasket...
The outside guys laid around.
It wasn't much fun putting this together,
but there was success getting it running.
Time for something fun.
I found a scrap bumper in a metal pile.
It was set aside for this truck,
but nobody could cut and weld here.
Some crude bracketry...
Cut cut Zip zip...
Now we could push gates open,
and move trash cans around.
Didn't take long to get it back to work.
Seriously there are tons of leaves here.
They'll get composted into the mulch pile,
and eventually returned back to the earth.
I still need to get the 3rd blower working,
too late for this season.
At least everything is green again!