St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Dramatic Start to Winter

Sunday, the swans were enjoying a nice day on Orr Lake

Tuesday things looked different!

The 2014 winter season began suddenly with Sunday Nov 9th sunny and cool -- not quite 40, but as Brother Ev and I strolled around the green yard we agreed that a November like this would be fine!  We knew the forecast was for snow and cold, but when the lawn is green, the ducks and geese flying around, corn still being harvested, it seemed a long way off. 

However, Monday's 13+ inches of snow and Tuesday's temperature drop into the teens and 20s brought on the beauty of the first snow along with the gloom of the dead of winter all at once.   

Plowing snow is a challenge.  Tuesday afternoon, with the snow stopped, I brought out the snow blower and started to blow some snow.  It seemed sluggish -- but as the ground was not frozen and the lower layer of snow was wet, I figured I just had to go slow.  Then it stopped working.  The two stage front mounted blower on the Cub Cadet auger was stopped although the blower fan running.  
The shaft from tractor to auger gearbox was turning, but no power to the auger.  I stopped it and checked -- the auger turned freely as if not attached.  Broken or stripped worm gears was my jumped to conclusion, that turned out correct. 

190 341 100  42 inch front mounted snow blower -- note in the center of the auger is the auger gear box--about $300 with shipping from online sources and more locally.  Another $100 labor to repair or estimated about $500 fix if taken to town for the fix.   

Of course, I never do anything the expensive or easy way, believing that I can probably fix any machine (or at least tear it apart to see if I can fix it).  Using the internet I downloaded and printed out the manual for the snow blower and the exploded view of the auger gear box.  Very simple -- a shaft with worm gear coming in from the tractor driving a bronze worm gear to turn the augers.  Looking on the internet for parts, I found that these gears were available ranging from $25-60 including shipping.  

I also found a site (tractor talk) where several folks discussed fixing this part.   Easy, they said, remove 7 bolts and the whole auger and fan parts just "fall out."   Then take off the augers, remove another 5 bolts and split the auger gear box and look at the damages.  

An hour later I had the gearbox on the kitchen table whacking it with a hammer to drive apart the gearbox halves with a screwdriver.  When it opened up it was full of grease, bronze filings and a broken bronze worm gear.   

The gear had broken and the other worm gear had ground away the bronze teeth.  The steel shaft worm gear was fine and the softer bronze one needed replacing -- probably a design to keep both from getting damaged.  
Ordered the new gear (20 tooth) as it was not available locally for a week -- longer than from Ebay and more expensive.  

I also ordered some auger shear pins, thinking that maybe my replacement of the shear pin last year with a regular bolt may have been the cause of the gear breaking rather than the pin!   Stupidity sometimes catches us. 

So, having the blower out of service at the farm, decided to go up to the cabin and get the Ford with backblade and bring it down to clean out the yard.  When I got there, Scott said "It won't start."

Noticed the switch was left on--he said he tried to start it several hours earlier and jumped to the correct conclusion that the points got burned.  You leave a switch on on an old vehicle and if the points happen to be closed, draws current and burns the points and may melt the coil too.  

The 2N Ford has a front mounted distributor, so you reach in and unhook things, unsnap things, unbolt things and bring it out where you can work with it, hoping your bloody knuckles (scraped against the radiator fins) will heal OK.    Burned points that I filed to decent condition again.  Put it all back together and no spark, so likely a burnt out coil.  They are available at Tractor Supply for $45 and on the internet for $10.  So I ordered 2 off the internet that came in 2 days later for a total of $26 including shipping!  While studying the coils, decided to order new points too, however I got lured into spending $105 to get an electronic point replacement unit that promises never to have to do points again (probably unless we leave the switch on!).  I had already converted it from 6 volts to 12 volts. This is supposed to come in tomorrow, along with the gear for the snow blower.  

In the meantime, I took the augerless snowblower and used it as a snowplow (not too bad) and cleaned out my driveway and enough of the yard to get around.   I kind of hate to make these piles as they freeze up hard and as I don't have a loader tractor (that is in Pine Island with the loader off), I have to live around them the rest of the winter.  

If I get the snowblower back together, and the Ford Tractor running and the backblade on it, then I will tackle putting the front plow on the Super C.  Dad rigged up a truck front plow to mount on the tractor -- and that works OK too, but didn't bother to put it on last year as I had the other units working reliably.  This year, with snow and cold so early I think I need a backup.  

Normally we would head for the south in December, but as Margo has back surgery on the 2nd, we are unsure of the winter plans right now.   After a couple of cortisone shots, various pain killers, and physical therapy, the surgeon reviewed the x-rays and said he thought they might as well try that next.  

You all need to feel sorry for me a little --I have to watch her hobble around the house with a look of pain on her face day after day, barely able to get around and unable to do shoveling, wood splitting, or even cooking and dishes most days.   It has been a hard last few months putting up with her, but after surgery she plans on spending 2 weeks in a rehab center, and I think if she isn't in good shape, I might leave her there for the winter and head south.   I suppose you could feel a little sorry for Margo too.