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.
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.