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About EricF

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    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 08/30/1966

Wheel Horse Information

  • tractors
    1996 520H
  • favoritemodel

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  • Location
    Concord, NH

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  1. Snow plowing

    Snow, followed by freezing rain here in New Hampshire. Made for fluffy stuff with a crust of ice, and water melting through that turns the fluffy stuff into a wet mess. Plus ice wherever the snow was cleared but the the sleet and rain hit. The plows did thier usual dirty work of piling slush in the end of the driveway. Didn't matter much to the 520 with a 2-stage blower. Just slowed down and let it chew its way though. It makes a big difference for me -- both my street and my driveway are too narrow, really. The 520 can make a wide cut off the edge of the driveway so you have somewhere to step when you get out of the car -- not into a snowbank! And the way my house is set up, the extra cut goes straight up to the front steps. That makes short work of the pile that forms there when the snow slides off the solar panels on the roof! The best part is, the 2-stage blower's chute swivels past 90 degrees to point slightly back -- so I can drive straight up close to the steps and still shoot the snow back away from the house. They thought of everything... (I'm not a stranger to tractor-mounted snowthrowers; I grew up with a John Deere 110 and a single-stage. I doubt it could do some of the tough stuff I attacked with the Wheel Horse, though, and I don't remember it having the wide sweep of chute rotation that the Wheel Horse has.) The other problem here is that the street is a bit narrow. People's driveways fill up with their cars, and then there's nowhere on the street to park. No problem... I cut the plow's snowbank back and then another pass and a half or so along the shoulder so I have someplace to put the cars while I clear the driveway, or for the kids to park theirs when they visit. I used to do this with an 8HP walk-behind snowthrower -- no fun, and I couldn't cut all the way along the front of the property to the edge where the neighbors' piled up snow from their driveway -- which tended to get in their own way even worse. Now it's cut back clear to their driveway, which makes it easier for them, too! I haven't lived anywhere with curbs for ages, so I got in the habit a long time ago of cutting the snowbank back along the front of the property, at least around the driveway, so there's less for the plows to pick up and shove into the driveway or the mailbox. When there's no curb, the grass never grows well at the edge of the road anyway -- too much salt and sand runs off the road -- so I never worry about tearing up the lawn along the edge. I can lift the 2-stage just a bit so it "floats" over the uneven surface anyway and won't pick up rocks or chew up the grass. A lot easier than with the walk-behind machine. I guess after the past few messy winters, another one of the neighbors finally decided to put the walk-behind machine aside -- he was out with a new-ish looking big Craftsman/Husqvarna fitted with single-stage snowthrower. I was wondering if I was going to be the only crazy guy with a tractor and snowthower combo. (Typical thinking here is if the walk-behind isn't doing a good enough job, then buy a bigger walk-behind...) So far with the wet or icy snowfalls, it hasn't taken any less time with the tractor than with the walk-behind, but I'm clearing more out than before, and it's a lot easier on me!
  2. Plastic belt cover on pto 520H

    That's been my feeling as well -- generally, if the PTO is operating to run the mower, no one should be anywhere near the machine in the first place. The snowthrowers have their own belt guard setups (or lack thereof), but it's the same thing -- the operator should be in the seat, and no one else belongs anywhere near the machine. I can see where running the front-hung generator would be a good case for having a belt shroud -- the machine is stationary and likely to be tended to from the side by an operator. But most uses have the tractor in motion, and good safety habits also dictate no one should approach the machine unless the attachments are disengaged. But lawyers get involved, and you wind up with rigged-up safety guards on machinery that wasn't meant to have it -- and that starts a whole new set of unintended consequences. Of course, by the time Wheel Horse had to put a cover on the PTO assembly, side-mounted PTOs were largely gone, especially on higher-powered GT's comparable to the 520. Most everything else was going to shaft drives or vertical-shaft engines with under-hung drive setups. The Wheel Horse design was an anachronism by the late 80s and early 90s -- but still unbeatable!
  3. Plastic belt cover on pto 520H

    I've never been fond of the plastic belt shroud. I understand it's purpose and I'm not opposed to safety shrouds (been around equipment in farm country while growing up; I know the hazards of open drive systems...). The problem is that the classic Wheel Horse design pre-dates that sort of guard, making any attempt at covering it up basically a tacked-on, make-do kind of solution -- something that rarely works well. I've kind of wondered if the big plastic shell tends to trap rather than pass the air that works its way around the engine block, although the support for the drive belt guard seems to be more in the way of the engine cooling fins than anything else. Anyway, I leave the plastic guard off, but I haven't cut holes in my drive belt cover. The previous owner apparently used the plastic guard. Up here in New England, it's generally not as hot and humid as other parts, so needs may well vary based on climate, too.
  4. 2 stage blower part needed

    That lower helper spring on the lift actuator rod -- the one in your picture looks a good bit beefier than the one on my 2-stage blower. The one I have is thinner material but darn hard to get extended and hooked onto the flag on the rod. I'll give it another try tomorrow, but I may leave it disconnected since I've got a hydro lift. It was a pain in the neck when I took the blower off when I got the tractor home last Spring; I think I left it connected and dropped the lift link, then took it off the flag. Putting it back together that way doesn't work well because the darn spring moves around and gets in the way... Noticed any ill effects leaving the spring off? The hydro lift doesn't seem to have any issues hoisting it without the spring.
  5. New Shop

    I'm building a 10x20 shed that uses a similar roof truss setup. It's a pre-cut lumber kit; there are some differences though. The top plate is doubled, and every truss connects with a hurricane tie that connects to both sides of the rafter, not just one. The side of the hurricane tie that nails to the top plate is nailed to both the top and bottom members of the doubled top plate. In all, each rafter is attached with seven purpose-specific hanger nails -- four into the rafter (two each side) and three into the top plate. Its a similar approach, but more robust -- they definitely aren't going anywhere. Driving the nails in with a hammer is doable, but a bit of a pain -- it's a lot easier to use an air-powered palm nailer, which is what I did. Strap-style hangers like those in the picture are easier to get at with a conventional nail gun -- probably more popular for prefab, assembly-line construction. I'd rather see straps on every rafter, not the screws on the odd ones. You could add a 2x4 block in each stud bay, which would give enough purchase to add a strap to the screwed-in rafters. Either way, once the OSB decking is on, the whole roof behaves more or less as a very stiff unit. The straps are remarkably good at handling wind loads. Snow loading is another matter, although OSB itself plays a big part in the roof strength. It's surprisingly strong and rigid compared to traditional plywood, which has allowed for more deviations from old standby construction methods.
  6. Toro model#79361 snow blower

    As long as the belt guard bracket and combined anti-sway bumper assembly mounts up fine where it belongs near the PTO, you'll probably be fine with it on a C125. Just take it slow and easy. A 2-stage doesn't depend on ground speed at all to shove snow through; even with wet, heavy stuff -- just slow down and let the machine do the work. If it can suck it through the auger and impeller assembly, it will sling it. Torque helps a lot with 2-stages -- there's more mechanical action in the works to keep going, compared to a singe stage which just has to spin the auger... and a single-cylinder Kohler has plenty of torque.
  7. That M-series Lawn-Boy I put back in service (in the "Other Brands" thread) is my favorite thing for eating up leaves. I just keep the mulching plug in place and run over 'em, and let the 2-cycle monster chew 'em up into a nice fine mulch That I can leave down on the ground. The leaves don't cover the whole lawn, they just collect in a few places that I can either run right over, or rake into an area where I can mulch them down with the mower. As long as I keep the leaves chopped up, the squirrels seem to be finding and picking up the acorns pretty well. Hopefully I won't have plague of them like I did in the Spring this year.
  8. Shiny new boiler

    Where I grew up in southern Michigan, oil-fired heat largely disappeared in the 70s as a surplus of propane used for grain drying became cheap and plentiful. That paved the way for gas forced-air heat with central A/C to really take off. Hydronic heat was never all that popular around the Great Lakes region -- too much risk of freeze-up if the system shut down in sub-zero weather. I got really familiar with keeping gas forced-air systems in shape. Then I moved to northern New England where oil-fired baseboard hot water loops and window A/Cs are the normal setup... Learned upkeep on both ancient and new boilers. Dealt with finicky mixer valves. Replaced and retro-fitted improved burner controls when old ones failed... Dealt with part of a water loop that froze up just because the wind drove in from an odd direction on a part of the house that was normally kept cool, so then we had to burn more oil to keep the water moving... And managed to be happy about it because propane is overpriced up here. Moved to the new place a few years ago, and one of the big attractions was that it was connected to natural gas, and had a gas forced-air furnace and central air. Simple to clean and check each year. Modern furnaces are a little more fiddly with condensation drains to check and/or flush out if necessary, flame sensors to keep clean and the occasional igniter to replace, but that's about all. No more hoisting window units in and out. I appreciate a well-engineered oil-fired hot water system, but the upkeep and lower efficiency compared to a gas forced-air system or a heat pump setup in most parts of the country just can't compete. A couple of years ago I took out the basic thermostat and replaced it with one of Honeywell's top-end programmable systems -- the sensors are wireless, but the main thermostat and controller are still hard-wired in; in fact, the "thermostat" display upstairs is really just an interface to the "brain box" control that's mounted on the furnace/air handler and has to have all the furnace/AC control wiring broken out and run through the new control. Takes a little time to install, but once it's set up you can have it average across multiple temperature sensors and offset run times against an outdoor temperature sensor. Humidity gets controlled by the same multi-sensor system, and again can react based on the outside humidity too, both in humidification and dehumidification modes. It also relies on sensors in the supply and return ducts to sense the temperatures in the system and adjust run times for better efficiency, and keeps a diagnostic log. It can even handle occupancy sensors, but there's always somebody home, so I didn't bother picking those up. But it's basically a really slick commercial-style control system that can run a conventional home system. For me, it's probably paid for itself already because I only paid for the parts and did my own installation. To have it installed professionally probably would have doubled the price because of the man-hours necessary to do the job right -- you just can't rush carefully wiring up the controls, adding any extra transformers for the relay circuit needed to control an add-on humidifier, and doing a proper set-up of the duct-mounted sensors, then running it through test modes to gather the system's operating temperatures and response curves to feed into the initial setup -- the labor cost is probably as much or more than the cost of the electronics, so the average homeowner won't be able to recoup the cost nearly as fast. No wonder the DIY Nest thermostats sell so well -- they really can't out-perform a good pro-grade multi-sensor system, but they're about all the average homeowner wants to spend on a thermostat. Wife has already decided that if we ever have to move again, there will be no more oil heat and window units -- only gas and central air, and I will be installing another pro control system.
  9. Purchased a Work Horse GT-1100 Today

    You got a good deal! If you're the slightest bit handy with engines mechanical things, or a just a good learner, you'll find your new Horse to be remarkably simple and straightforward to work on. Only thing to watch out for is that, like all 90s-era garden and lawn tractors, there's the extra safety switches and their wiring. A good scrubbing ought to help get the crud off so you can find the gem underneath.
  10. Lawn-Boy M Series Brought Back to Life

    Yeah, I have an aversion to spending money on anything that won't last. Better to repair what you have -- and buy what can be repaired rather than thrown out. Funny story -- a month or so ago, the doorbell rang. It was somebody selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door-to-door. Sorry, can't help you, I told them -- we already have one. I don't think they were expecting that answer -- Kind of hard to sell when the prospective customer already owns one. The thing is about 25 years old and going strong. Bought it used, too; it gets checked out by the local Kirby service guy every few years. Much like a Wheel Horse, it's a machine that the parts largely interchange on across decades of production, so keeping an old one running is easy and inexpensive. My wife has asthma, so we keep the house scrupulously clean. The old machine, with the modern HEPA-grade bags I can get for it, still gets more crud and pet hair out of rugs than the new "high efficiency" and "allergy care" vacuums. Come to think of it, it's probably time to get out the metal polish and shine it up again -- can't do that with the modern plastic throwaways! Update... A couple of weeks ago I went to mow. Got the Lawn-Boy out to do the trimming. No start. Checked the plug, found no spark when cranking. After running down the tests in the shop manual to check all the safety cut-outs, it came down to a bad ignition module. All of them seem to be Chinese imports now, even the slightly different-looking ones that have been the usual substitution from a German supplier. Searching for the appropriate part turned them up on Amazon, of all places, along with a new spark plug. Easy enough part to swap, but it's a pain to remove the engine shroud because you also have to loosen the muffler shroud and lift the gas/oil tank assembly. Lots of screws in hard-to-reach places. Well now it's back together and running like a champ again, just in time to chew up all the leaves that have come down plus the grass that grew up during the warm weather and rains of late. Nothing beats a 2-cycle engine for torque under heavy load -- It plowed through all the leaves and grass with the mulch plug in place, no problem at all. It's a perfect companion to the 520H for getting work done in a hurry.
  11. A new pony comes home!

    Sweet ride! And it's even the right color!
  12. Wheel horse / Toro

    Toro acquired both Wheel Horse and Lawn-Boy, hoping to keep those high-end brands alive. They covered market segments where Toro wasn't as strong; Toro didn't have any garden tractor presence, and Wheel Horse also brought a line of smaller but well-engineered lawn tractors and alternate rear-engine riders to their lineup. Lawn-Boy was kind of its own special segment with two-cycle push mowers and a strong brand loyalty that extended into the commercial sector. (I usually saw more commercial Lawn-Boy mowers than Toro trimmer mowers in commercial service back in the day.) Toro supported the engineering efforts to carry the Wheel Horse line into the 300, 400, and 500 lines plus develop the 5xi, and they were the ones that brought Lawn-Boy into the modern age with the oil-injected/piston-ported "M" series 2-cycle mowers. They were very much trying to grow and build those brands. Unfortunately, economic downturns that favored the rise of cheap commodity equipment, a decline in popularity of gardening on a scale big enough to induce people to need GTs, engine emission regulations, plus the rise of zero-turns across pro and homeowner use, all really turned the market upside-down. Today, SCUTs have eaten into the garden tractor market and cheap commodity lawn "tractors"/riding mowers have gobbled up the homeowner market. Zero-turns dominate the turf care industry. Emissions regulations killed 2-cycle mowers. In the end, Toro's two big acquisitions went from being important assets to a mostly dead market. Toro actually protected the Wheel Horse brand by not applying it to anything that didn't have a genuine Wheel Horse engineering legacy. Unfortunately, there's no way to fit genuine Wheel Horse into Toro's modern lineup. So the brand remains dormant. Lawn-Boy still has name recognition, and just survives as re-branded Toro homeowner mowers. The "M" series deck lives on though, in slightly modified/updated form as one of Toro's (expensive) pro line trimmer mowers. Toro spent money and had plans to cultivate those brands and build themselves into a "family" of reputable names. Economics and outside market forces changed all that.
  13. Depending on the normal pH of your soil, acorns from the oak trees can add too much acidity, which makes for poor grass growth. Some of my lawn is under a neighbor's big oak tree; last winter it dumped more acorns than I've ever seen from it. I raked them up in the spring, but plenty of them were already decomposing. Grass hasn't grown too well there this year.
  14. traded my bucket truck earlier

    That's an awfully good trade... I used to drive an 82 F150. Well, if it wasn't for the 5-lug hubs, it probably would have been a 250... I was the second owner, and the original owner had apparently special-ordered it built up about as heavy as you could get an F150 back then, and it still kept the bulletproof straight-six engine and classic three-on-the-tree. The clutch was oversized -- it went in twice for clutch work over the years, two different shops. Both times they opened it up and found a bigger clutch than the shop manual said. (Probably shouldn't have needed a second clutch job, except the fist shop didn't get it quite right... There's no room for error with the old fully-mechanical clutch linkage. A little irregularity in the flywheel causes more judder when the clutch picks up and wears it. No cushioning effect in the linkage like a hydraulic clutch. Second time, a different shop machined the flywheel perfect, and the clutch was perfect ever after.)
  15. Interesting Find 50 Years Later

    The condition of that thing is remarkable for being submerged in a lake and mud all this time!