St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mower repairs

Expecting to bottle the last 8 gallons of maple syrup this morning, I had big plans to get the garden ready as well as the lawn mower.  

I put the last of the syrup on the stove--two big canners full, and started them cooking. The smaller one came to a boil and after 10 minutes was at 217 degrees F, seven degrees above the 210 that water boiled at this morning and so I took it off and dumped it in the filter; let it run through and back on the stove to bring it to a boil.  As it had less syrup in it and was on the big burner, it was well ahead of canner 2.  

Taking it off and beginning to bottle it, I heard a bubbling sound and looked over and sure enough, canner two had not only come to a boil, but boiled over the top and onto the stove top.  Almost every year, I do that at least one time.  I had been congratulating myself for having finished 30 gallons with no accidents, and then on the last batch it ran over.  

I pulled it onto a cold burner and it went back down. Finishing bottling the other canner, I got it out of the way and brought the boiled over one and ran it through the filter.  About a quart had run on top of the stove and down through the burner holes onto the pan above the oven.  Well, I ignored it and finished the syrup bottling and then, all done with that, turned to cleaning the stove.  

Remove all the burners and then take wet towels and wash rags and soak up and clean out the syrup through the burner holes--in the 2 inch area between stove top and oven top.   Got it done and while I was at it did the whole stove so it looked like it was only 20 years old instead of 40. 

Well, that set me back until noon.  Still wanting to get out and do some gardening, I took the 1972 Cub cadet and picked a small load of rocks in the trailer and backed it up to the steep driveway down to the lake to unload it in the washout that I try to fill each year.   Shut off the Cub and set the brake.  

Had just about got it unloaded when it all started to slowly roll backwards down the steep hill--trailer going first.   I jumped on (it is like a riding lawnmower in size only much heavier built frame).  Oh *@$# -- brake wasn't working.  The engine was off, and suddenly the tractor was coasting backwards down the hill fast.  Of course the trailer --a big one--immediately turned to the side jacknifing the tractor and before I could do anything we had rolled over on the our side with the tractor pinning my foot under it.   

Taking inventory, it didn't look like I was very much injured; the tractor looked OK except it was on its side and gas dripping from the tank, and I had a foot pinned.   Couldn't budget the tractor, so managed to slip my foot out of the shoe and get free. 

My back was already sore; my foot felt sore too, but nothing seemed broken and nothing was dripping out of me, so I went and got on another pair of shoes, took some pain killers and got the Ford 2N and 3 tow ropes and a chain so I could tip it upright without taking the Ford and its poor brakes down the hill.  Then I pulled it up on the flat and let it sit -- let the oil drain back into the base and so on. It is sitting where I left it waiting for tomorrow for a test. 

While it was on it's side, I was able to see underneath that the brakes needed adjustment--it has disk brakes on the rear wheels, and they aren't taking effect.   Also studied the underneath which looked quite bright yellow and in good shape.    Sadly, I was so into the moment, I didn't get any photos of the roll over and I didn't take advantage of the position to adjust the brakes.  

Well, the lawn is getting a little green, so decided as long as I could still get around and had the Ford out, I should get the 3-point King Kutter finishing mower on and grease it up and try it out.  Got it on and greased, but one of the small wheels had a flat tire. 

Took off the wheel and unbolted the split rim (breaking off only 1 of the four studs), and found a tube inside.  When the manufacturer had put the wheel together, the tube got pinched between the two part rim and over winter had finally (after 4 years) gotten 3 holes along the rim--big ones. 

No replacement tubes at Tractor Supply in St Croix Falls where I bought it, so I am attempting to patch the tube in 3 places.   Just scraped, spread the glue and stuck the patches on and will wait until tomorrow to see if it holds air.  

By now, my right leg just above the ankle is swollen some, my back is groaning, and so I am parked for the day with the pain killers near by.   It is a good thing Margo wasn't here as she gets too bothered when I tip over tractors and stuff like that. 

 She has finished her 2nd week of 5 weeks of radiation and is feeling so good that she and Scott headed to Sears to buy a rototiller down there to turn the bird and butterfly garden into lawn.  The old one just wore out and has been sitting for two years resting.  

The B&B garden was originally a beautiful perennial garden.  But, then one spring Margo let a milkweed grow.  Next year there were a few hundred milkweeds "but the monarchs like them so much..."  Then a thistle came in "the gold finches like it so much.." and then a few hundred thistles.  A tame blackberry plant gone wild, and suddenly the perennials were overwhelmed and it turned it into a brier patch that 5 br'er rabbits could live in without worrying about br'er fox.   Margo says it goes into lawn this time.

So, although the maple syrup is bottled here at the cabin, the gardens need to be planted, the lawns mowed, and the Cub Cadet brakes fixed and it needs to be checked out to see if it will start after the rollover.  I can't see any damage on it, but I suppose tomorrow it might have some black and blue spots where my foot hit it.  

  I noticed the 2N Ford was leaking gas around the sediment bowl--couldn't tighten it enough to stop the leak.  With gas at $4.19 out at Cushing, I don't want to lose even one drop.  Normally I shut the gas off on all my tractors when I am not using them.  

   I think there is a frog living in the gas tank, because all spring, once or twice a day when hauling sap, I had to take off the sediment bowl and use a plastic tube to blow up into the gas tank to get him off the tank opening.   That seems to have gotten the gasket worn out--but somewhere in the garage I am pretty sure that I have a replacement one.  I think I put it away in a drawer so it would be handy....

    So, did I learn something today?   Yeah--fix the brakes on tractors if you are going to use them on hills.  I suppose that goes for the Ford too.

 I am celebrating a little.  Exactly 1 year ago, May 17, I was mowing Mom's lawn out in the orchard and started having double vision.  I had to shut one eye to see and that didn't work very good with all the branches to dodge.  Had to give it up.  By next week my left eyelid had quit working and so I went to Mayo and found out I have Myasthenia Gravis.  After being pretty weak and sick for many months and a year of treatment, I am doing pretty good--in remission right now and not on any medicine waiting to see if MG comes back or stays away.   If I stay out from under tractors, I might still have a few good years to share with Margo left!

Hope your brakes work good.