Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tractor Damage Slows Slash-Burning

Pushing a burn pile around with the Kubota front loader earlier this month, I got a long pine stick between two parts and saw hydraulic oil start spewing.


It bent a hydraulic rod, broke a cylinder cap and ruined a set of seals. Must be more careful with debris. Having the tractor out of commission now isn't good. The burn ban starts in 3 weeks, and we have a lot of fire-hazard debris to get rid of while the forest is still wet.


The seals were the least expensive part to replace, under $50. They're special rubber O-rings that you fit into their respective places. The steel cap was more like $150.


Two tractor mechanics advised against reinstalling a bent hydraulic rod because it would just damage the cylinder. A new rod would have been $400. Swiftwater Tractor directed me to a place that straightens them. The bend wasn't bad, and there was no polishing required on the mirror-like surface. Cost: $30 instead of $400. The place is Western Metals in Ellensburg. Valley Tractor called around for me to try to find someplace similar in Wenatchee, with no luck.


Shipping the rod to the shop, and driving out of my way to pick it up, was nothing compared to the hassle of fitting 2 of those little seals into the new cap. I tried several times, then boiled the seals to soften them (but it didn't), then finally found a way to fold it like a taco, then double it back over itself, then jam it into the cap with a rubberized pliers handle.


Back in business -- and not a drop.


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