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About EricF

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    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 08/30/1966

Wheel Horse Information

  • tractors
    1996 520H
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  • Location
    Concord, NH

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  1. EricF

    Hose through frame?

    Battery breather tube? Some batteries have them. Not all though, but the tube can be left behind after a battery swap.
  2. EricF

    520xi shutting off

    You might also consider troubleshooting the coil/ignition trigger module circuit. They tend to go "open" when they warm up -- which will kill the ignition. Once the affected part cools off, the circuit closes and you can run it again... until the affected part warms up and the circuit opens again.
  3. The front height adjustment is pretty much set-and-forget unless you regularly move the deck around among different tractors, and it shouldn't have much visible effect on lift height -- it just determines where the front of the deck settles when it's down. Although if it's badly out of adjustment or bent, it may do some strange things because it applies leverage through the brackets to "float" the front when the rear wheels are resting on the ground. Make sure all the pivots and bits of the front height adjuster and the rest of the deck hanger arms are able to move freely. If something is binding up, the lift action may hang up and prevent the deck from lowering as it should.
  4. I tend to mow at the higher settings all the time, so if the grass has grown overly tall I just mow each swath with only 1/2 the width my 48" SD deck, so the third blade is only chopping up the clippings getting passed through it. Once the lawn is done, I do a fast run over any areas with a lot of clippings at one or two different angles to disperse them. In a day or two, they dry up and disappear - mostly breaking down to feed the lawn. I don't have thick turf -- so the clippings break down into the ground easily. Good turf is a whole different animal to deal with. So far this year, I've mowed the lawn exactly three times and had to do this twice. Once in the spring, because the lawn grows unevenly in the best of times, and some new grass needed to get a good start before I ran over it plus it would benefit from being fed the clippings. Then we had near-drought conditions for a month and a half. Followed by a week and a half of rain which turned the "desert" into a "jungle". In between I had one "normal" mowing session, and that's been it! (So much for seat time this summer...) I never worry about cutting overgrown grass... the 520H just powers through. And so does my equally old M-series 2-cycle Lawn-Boy that I use for trimming. I have a slightly lawn-obsessed neighbor (Seriously, either his hobby is pretending to be a groundskeeper, or he just doesn't want to be inside with his wife...) who's forever running around with the biggest box-store John Deere riding mower he could find. After the rains, when the lawns he cares for (his son-in-law's house next to us and a rental house in back) were just as long as mine, he struggled with cutting at two different heights and bagging it, and still left lots of un-cut stalks and blobs of clippings. And he spends loads of time wrangling the JD around trees and obstacles with only partial success, since he apparently despises touching even a self-propelled trimmer mower. Then I spot him behind the line of sheds or trees, gawking as I run my decades-old equipment that never falters and leaves the grass looking nice in a single pass... He'll mow every week, whether it needs it or not, and his grass never looks any better (and sometimes worse) than mine! I do think that mower decks make a difference in cut quality, especially with the typically less-than-deal grass growing conditions up here in New England. I've always found that small two-blade decks are fiddly to get adjusted right so they deliver a nice cut. I did it years ago with an old Craftsman lawn tractor that I got off Craigslist -- once I had that deck adjusted correctly, it cut better than the next-door neighbor's modern-era Simplicity. When that old machine gave up the ghost, I sold it for parts and moved on to an old Bolens "Suburban" heavy lawn tractor with a small three-blade deck. Much easier to get that one set up and cutting nicely as long as I kept the blades sharp. The Wheel Horse replaced that one, and the 48" deck is just head-and-shoulders above anything else I've ever run when it comes to easy, no-fuss adjustment and a really nice cut even under bad mowing conditions. Nearest contender might have been the 38" (I think?) three-blade deck on the 1970s-era John Deere 112 that I grew up with. But installing/removing the JD fully-suspended deck, routing the belt and adjusting the height stop was a royal pain in the backside compared to the Wheel Horse attach-a-matic hitch and front-mount mule drive system.
  5. Mowing...Hauling stuff in the trailer...Grading/light earthwork with the blade...Chewing up winter's worst with the 2-stage snowthrower...Whatever work I can come up with!
  6. EricF

    Name change

    I did my trans oil change on my 520 this spring, and found the plug was either overtightened or in the early stages of seizing up. Hit it with PB blaster every day or so for a week, and it reluctantly came out. Looked like the last time it was put in, they didn't use any thread sealant at all -- just tightened the heck out of it. Cleaned it up and pit it back with PTFE (teflon) pipe thread sealant on it so we won't repeat that again... Unfortunately, the wheel horse manuals don't say anything about using any pipe thread sealant on the plug -- but if I'm not mistaken, it uses a pipe thread profile and therefore should have sealant paste or modern tape applied in order to fully seal without over-tightening.
  7. EricF

    520H for sale questions

    Looks good -- ought to clean up just fine! All that crud on the rear end is probably due to spilled oil from when the hydro was filled by the previous owner. You'll want to make sure the fins on the hydro unit are cleaned up and free of gunk and clippings... there's bound to be more crud built up under the seat pan and in the tunnel where the lift mechanism is, too. The headlight switch might be the cause of the no-lights situation... or it could also be a bad connection or ground somewhere else, too. If the headlight switch is hard to move in either direction, shoot some contact cleaner into it and work it back and forth until it frees up. The flush it out with some more contact cleaner. It helps to put a rag around the switch and the straw on the can to keep it from splashing everywhere. If you can get a hold of some "DeOxit" D-5 cleaner, shoot some of that into it every day for a few days, and it will keep working. The DeOxit stuff is expensive, so use regular contact cleaner to flush the insides of the switch out first. The DeOxit stuff is better at preventing corrosion from coming back, but it will take a little time to get enough in there to neutralize the corrosion and leave enough protection to stop it from coming back.
  8. EricF

    The REAL Wheel Horse

    Half a lifetime ago, I worked with horses... believe me, good harness equipment and tack is cared for to last a lifetime, and repaired rather than replaced. Each owner tends to add their own personal touches along the way. I'm sure there's some interesting history there!
  9. EricF

    Time to fix the brake

    Roll pins are kind of a holdover from an earlier era, and Wheel Horse stuck to its roots even after then Ponds sold the company. Actually, in all seriousness, roll pins are excellent for holding in spite of shock and vibration -- much better than set screws or screws on splined hollow shafts. There's a reason why roll pins are still the order of the day for holding semi-permanent assemblies together in firearms -- just no substitute for some applications. In the case of the Wheel Horse parking brake knob, it's just overbuilt -- typical Wheel Horse engineering. As for why the parking brake latch won't hold, is the lever under spring tension? if the spring that holds it "down" is missing or broken, it will flop up and down and won't keep the parking brake pawl teeth engaged.
  10. EricF

    Craigslist find

    Bandaided PTO? Shucks, I can pick up the same kind of clip Wheel Horse used from my local Ace hardware store for a buck or less... " Got it on a trade and not what we are looking for. " The seller must not not be looking for good machinery, then, because that Horse looks like it's either repairable or a fine source of parts to combine with another Wheel Horse to make a machine that will probably outlast what they're "looking for"!
  11. It's a testament to how tough these machines are, when they can be abused and neglected and still be repairable.
  12. EricF

    520H for sale questions

    Loose cam / linkage on top of the hydro will cause problems with the motion control lever not being able to advance the hydro to full speed. Look under the seat for the linkage. If it's loose, you've found the likely suspect. Tighten it up so the cam doesn't wobble, so the motion control will work correctly. Then chain the tractor to a tree or solid object and see if the wheels will try to bite in and pull, or if the transmission slips. That will tell you if the transmission is good or not.
  13. EricF

    Saved from going to scrap!

    The plastic PTO covers definitely started in the mid-90's, as a concession to newer safety standards. (Personally, I always wondered how Wheel Horse managed to go so long without having to put a shroud over the PTO -- every other brand with a horizontal engine seemed to have one by the 1970's unless they used shaft drive!) Maybe someone can correct me, but I don't remember any electric PTOs on the 1990's standard Wheel Horses, at least not on the horizontal-shaft engines. Seems like Wheel Horse was one of the first to introduce electric PTO clutches way back in the '60s, but they kind of moved away from them as everybody else picked them up. Although the 5xi series used them again since they had the mowing reverse lockout, but those are hidden away since it's a fore-aft shaft drive engine setup.
  14. EricF

    Running higher octane gas?

    Another conundrum with fuels and engine performance vs. manufacturer recommendations is due to emissions ratings of modern small engines. Without any catalyst exhaust systems (yet?) they're dependent on narrow ranges of valve timing, spark temperature and carburetor characteristics to get the emissions to meet specs, and they do that based on whatever pump-grade gas is specced in the manual. So if they spec a requirement for nothing higher than 87-octane pump gas, it's probably because the burn characteristics of higher octane fuel throws the emissions out of whack, given the rest of the engine's operating behavior. Not that it matters in getting the grass mowed, or even much in the overall life and running characteristics of the engine. It's mostly about meeting emissions specs. There are other things that octane rating can affect, though. Octane rating affects the speed at which the fuel/air mixture burns. High-octane fuel delivers a short, hot burst later in the combustion cycle. Lower octanes deliver a slower, gentler (relatively) combustion which starts earlier and lasts longer through the piston stroke. (This is why burned exhaust valves can result from running lower-octane fuel in high-compression engines -- the fuel may still be burning when the exhaust valve opens.) Combustion characteristics can also affect cylinder temperatures, which is is a concern with any engine, but can be particularly important on small air-cooled engines. High octane fuels are often said to give cooler engine temps because the fuel spray initially cools the combustion chamber slightly, then combustion gets over and done quickly, leaving the exhaust cycle to fully scavenge the heat. Lower-octane fuels may result in more heat soak of the combustion chamber and cylinder since the duration of the combustion is longer. Theoretically, then, high-octane fuel is well-suited for air-cooled engines as long as there's nothing funny going on with the valve timing that would cause incomplete burning with high-octane gas.
  15. EricF

    Buying New Garden Tractor

    I'd probably lean toward a basic JD X700, if I were buying a new GT. (And had plenty of money burning a hole in my pocket...) You don't have to go for all the options either, to get a good, robust machine. Though it's a bit more complex in terms of the electrical system with modern safety features, and a fair bit of electronics too.