Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mower problem solving!

This short piece is not so much a how to do or fix, as it is a what to also do intellectually, when you have to tackle a problem with a riding mower problem.

It's an autumn day and I was making the last cut of grass for the season. Lots of leaves on the ground with some piled over by a small raised garden. After cutting close to an acre of grass, I make the last minute decision to plow through and much a small pile of leaves next to the bed. Unknown to me, there was a rather large rock smack dab in the middle of the pile. As I drove into it, both blades on the 42 inch deck engaged, and then stuck momentarily... just long enough to strip off the locking teeth of both mandrels. Bummer. Of course, I didn't know that at the time. On that day, I quickly disengaged the blades and drove the mower into the garage, thinking I'd address the problem (whatever it was) next spring. I thought that at worst, I'd bent a blade and it'd be no big deal. Such nativity and innocence...
Fast forward to the next spring. It's late March in SW Missouri! The grass is now growing like crazy and I looked with increasing anxiety at my so not working mower. A call to a man who had cut my grass from time to time bought me some time... at $40 a cut. The thing was, grass has a tendency to grow rather fast in the spring and in short order, I found myself $120 down in less than a month. I resolved to fix that mower and to do it tout suite!

The first major problems arose after I had detached the mower deck and it was lying on the garage floor. I has ascertained, at that time, that upon hitting that rock one mandrel was going to need replacement. In order to accomplish that, I would have to be removed. This involved the removal of three small bolts that held it to the deck and a large 7/8 inch bolt that affixed the top pulley. The small bolts were not much of a problem, but that large one was something made in hell. No amount of pressure I could bring to bear moved it even a smidgen. I had no idea what to do after even heating it with a propane torch proved fruitless. Finally, after a week worth of failure, I decided to visit a local mower repair home operation to see if they would tackle the jog. Alas, we I stopped in, no one was there. Also, calls the service were not returned. I left and headed back down the road. But, as I was driving I saw a small building that advertised Welding and Fencing. Hmm, I thought, and pulled on in. Inside were a couple of young men manhandling large sections of steel pipe. One of them , the owner, told me he was going to be headed my way the next day and would stop by. I gave him my business card and left wondering if he had actually meant what he said....

The next day, sure enough he called and arrived at about 11AM. Out from his truck came an acetylene torch and a small portable impact wrench. Inside of ten minutes both those top nuts were off. And, it turned out that the one I has having a problem with had been cross threaded! Well, that only goes to show that sometimes, you have to think a little outside the box to get a problem resolved. And like the welder told me, 'it amazing what a little heat can do!'

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