Some Assembly Required – The Tractor Has Arrived

My new Chinese tractor finally arrived. There was no apparent damage. I was surprised to find things not bolted down but they were packed in tight and with their weight nothing bothered them. Everything was clean and dry.

Picture What?
Gardewine North often shipped my goods to and from northern Manitoba. They also shipped lots of chips and ‘pop… 😉
A pallet lift was used to roll the pallet onto the liftgate.
Hydraulics lower the tonne of my stuff gently to the driveway.
Touchdown! From China to my driveway with love…
Here are the small parts from the top of the pile in the crate.
Here are the big parts below: rotary tiller, plough, transmission, battery and engine.
Here’s my first diesel engine: 18HP@2200rpm and a battery to start the thing and keep the instruction manual from blowing away in the wind. I really appreciate the detailed break-in process in the manual. The date on the name-plate is 2013-05 so it’s just a baby. It sounds like they know I will hand this machine down to my grandchildren. Break-in maintenance is described for the first 25h, then routine maintenance daily and at 100h, and 500h intervals. I doubt I will live to see the time for major overhaul, 1500h. I was surprised to learn that the tractor uses brake-steering. Wow. I haven’t used a tractor like that since the 1950s. It worked well then too.

There were some surprises. I had no idea so much assembly was required. It’s not difficult except that everything must be lifted into position instead of rolled on wheels. That’s OK. I can manage. I could have asked Gardewine to roll the crate into the garage but there’s not much room in there for the pallet so I will shift in parts and assemble it inside. I was also surprised to find that I could move the transmission and rotary tiller only with the greatest effort because they are so heavy. Even with the transmission and tiller off the pallet, I could not slide the pallet on the icy driveway. The engine alone has a mass of 165kg… I had to use a steel pry-bar to move the pallet inch by inch. I can weld up a hoist and lift the engine onto a wagon but it’s pretty cold for working outdoors here, -32C apparent temperature.

Another surprise I only noticed upon downloading these images was that the air-intake duct was loose and the intake was open to the blowing snow. I went out to cover it. All it took was loosening a bolt and rotating the assembly into the natural position. Also, these engines have two kinds of cooling system, one open and needing constant replenishment with clean water and the other closed more like most automobiles. Mine is closed with a pressure-cap so coolant should not need replacing so often. I could even use anti-freeze for cold weather but there should not be much need for that. I can just drain the system for storage according to the manual.

I will work on the assembly inside the garage where the wind is nil and temperatures are at least 10C higher than outside.

All in all, I am quite pleased with the equipment. It’s sturdy, which was my number one concern, and well made. The instructions, what I glean on the web and my own knowledge should make this a lasting and highly satisfactory relationship. It’s really amazing how the web and modern shipping has made the world a small place. This machinery was built in China only weeks ago and now it is in my garage ready to make my retirement years happy and productive.

UPDATE 2015-01-07 – This afternoon, I assembled the wheels to the axles/transmission and fastened the frame to the transmission, so the machine is taking shape. The only real problems were due to the weight of it. I had to lift it up gradually on jack-stands so I could attach the wheels and at one point it slipped off (lifting on one axle caused a sideways force due to the leverage of the transmission)… No harm done.

I did have trouble installing the keys between the axles and the wheels. They have to be dropped into the key-way before installing the wheels because there is a crimp in the ends of the grooves. “Dropped” is not the right word. I had to drive them in at an angle. Too tight tolerances + paint, I guess, but those wheels are not going to slip. I had a better opportunity to examine the engine mounts. They are indeed a steel casting about an inch thick. I thought they were hard rubber because they are heavily painted with some epoxy. The welds at the edges of the frame are a little light for me, a “stick” welder, but they will do. I will recheck them before I install the engine in case I want to build any of them up. The strength of steel is so great even a little weld in a strategic position will do a lot. It all depends on the forces (direction and strength).

With the frame attached to the wheels and transmission, I now have proper leverage to shift the thing around. The axles are quite long. I will have to build a hoisting frame over a metre across so the machine can roll in and out from under it. I don’t have a good way of rolling the engine around because my cart is frozen in mud out back… 😉 I will have to lift the engine where I dragged (across an icy driveway in -33C windchill) it and drive the frame underneath, axles protruding. Once the engine is on, I can attach the handles, controls, battery-compartment etc. It will begin to look like a tractor should. The weather is forecast to be 4C warmer tomorrow so I will weld the hoisting frame then. I’ve needed one from time to time. Necessity is the best way to move a procrastinator to action.

UPDATE 2015-01-15 – Finally we had a break in the weather. Temperatures rose to ~-5C last night. This morning I set up to weld a frame for lifting the engine. No good deed goes unpunished… One of the plastic bolts on my welding helmet had snapped. I have no spare. I will be going to Welders Supplies tomorrow to replace it. It’s an old model. I hope the parts are still available. My helmet is 25 years old but Honeywell still makes similar models and others supply parts for the older models. The thing snapped when I was not using it. That’s how cold it has been. I must have tightened it pretty well and the cold added to the stress and reduced the strength… The weekend should be warm again. Surely, I should have this tractor assembled by Spring.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
This entry was posted in food, horticulture, technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Some Assembly Required – The Tractor Has Arrived

  1. DrLoser wrote, “Have you considered treating yourself to a brand new welding helmet from Walmart”.

    Nope. My old one works very well. My supplier had parts for it and I’m good to go. I happened to be in the same building on other business so there wasn’t even any extra cost for shipping/shopping, just a few minutes of my time and a chat with a helpful salesman. I will set it down carefully from now on. I paid $50 for it around 1989, I think. They still make the same model today. It’s that good.

  2. DrLoser says:

    Have you considered treating yourself to a brand new welding helmet from Walmart, Robert?

    Sixty to eighty dollars would do the trick, I think.

  3. T. Lindsay wrote, “the things that were loose made me think of …”

    I have worked in steel for years and I see nothing wrong with the mounts on my engine. Good steel has a tensile strength of ~60K psi, and cast iron is a good fraction of that, much greater than the forces on this engine in shipping or operation. If one leg should crack, I expect others will hold and I can fabricate sturdy legs to replace them. A proper mount would also have a rubber buffer but there’s no need for that in such a small engine. The drive is four V-belts, so you know the designer knows a thing or two about durability. This machine really is designed to deliver the power and the only mechanical loads on those mounts will be the fairly steady pull of the V-belts and whatever vibration/jerking about the movement over rough ground causes. There’s a lot more metal in those mounts than on my equally powerful mower’s engine, for instance. The mower has a single belt and four bolts. Both are over-designed as far as strength goes.

    For the greater certainty, I went out and examined the engine’s mounts carefully. The ones in the picture do indeed seem to be shipping mounts. They are made of sheet steel with a welded brace, perhaps 14 gauge. The frame, however, includes two substantial rubber/plastic/nylon mounts about 3/4 inch thick and certainly giving some resilience and toughness over the long haul. They extend over the full width of the engine and are fastened with four good bolts. The oil-pan will lie between the rails of the frame.

  4. T. Lindsay says:

    Congrats on your new toy! Some assembly is expected, but the things that were loose made me think of where the author goes over some imported (chinese) engines and the difference between them based on their market in china. also on utterpower are articles where the author describes going over an engine before starting to see what may have happened before it was shipped (sand in the sump semi-covered by a coat of hastily applied paint). Looking forward to seeing this unit running!

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