Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Lawn Tractor Gene.......

Damn, I seem to have inherited my Fathers luck with lawn tractors.

My Father (hereafter, lovingly refered to as The Old Man) had incredable bad luck when buying and maintaining lawn equipment. Most of that bad luck stemmed from the fact that he never bought anything new. He'd buy someone else's old, already on the way down equipment, drag it home and try to use it to cut the 5 acres we had.
These little tractors were always throwing or breaking belts. The old man would cuss and get in the truck and head off to the local repair shop and buy another, come home and replace it. And break it in less than a week. I can think of 4 or 5 different tractors that followed this pattern. Actually, all of his tractors followed this pattern.

The repair place was called Gruel Brothers and they sold and serviced equipment of all types and sizes. They must've sold the old man more belts than any other customer and became known as Cruel Brothers around our place.

Now I'm sure a lot of the reason the old man never just went out and spent good money on a good tractor had to do with the fact that he didn't have a bunch of good money most of the time. I'm sure he'd have rather done that if the option had been available to him. It wasn't and he did the best he could.

I must say I learned from watching him and have tried to not follow his pattern most of the time. Most of the time. My, now 5 year old tractor, has recently begun to make that downward slide and has started to throw and break all the belts on it. I've maintained this thing pretty well and it's done a pretty good job overall. But everything is becoming badly worn. I've been replacing bits and belts about everytime I've used it over the last couple of months. It hit me the other day that I was falling into the old mans trap and decided to replace the machine entirely. Till I went shopping. OMFG!!! Damn, those things have gone up in price. Being the cheapass that I am, I went looking for close outs and bargins. I finally struck a deal with Ken, from the local Wally World. He had a few leftovers he was wanting to get rid of. These had been new in 2003, so they were really 2 years old but never used. The trouble is, they'd been sitting outside all Summer and wouldn't start. Not a problem. I made a deal on a $1000 mower to take it "as is" for $475 and a promise not to come whining about it later.

Went down there this morning and picked it up. Drug it home in the old red truck and proceeded to figure out why it wouldn't start. Cleaned contacts and cables all over - nothing. Hmmmmmmmm. Got a new battery in the deal, BTW. Strated tracing the power circuit to the starter and it seemed to all be complete? Hmmmmmm. Finally, I jumped it directly at the starter and it turned over. After it sounded like a bomb went off. The starter was locked up. Works now but the main switch is gonna need some more cleaning as it's still a little hit and miss. Greased everything up and changed the oil. Should have cleaned the carb some but it ran ok and smoothed out pretty quick, so I said "Screw it".

The good news is, I saved myself $500 bucks and got the lawn cut. This mower is almost identical to the one it's replacing also, so those new belts, new blades and what not on the old one will eventually be cannibalized as replacements.

The friggin' grass was about nine feet tall in front yard, so the new little mower got a pretty good work out.

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