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Old 06-02-2010, 10:38 AM   #111 (permalink)
EV test pilot
 
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I have mowed the lawn quite a few times so far.

There are still plenty more things to take care of on the Elec-Trak though.

I did just get a photocopy of an original owners manual in the mail from another Elec-Trak owner. Now I can see how this mower is SUPPOSED to work!

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Old 06-27-2010, 05:33 AM   #112 (permalink)
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very nice thread man keep the knowledge flowing....far out man
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:31 PM   #113 (permalink)
EV test pilot
 
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My tractor is charging up right now - on SOLAR power.

Previously, I had done some solar charging from a 45watt 12V harbor Freight setup. However, that was with only 3 batteries in the tractor, and I had to manually move alligator clips, changing one battery at a time.

Right now, I have a 60watt/48V solar panel rigged up to a solar charge controller, 4 batteries (more to be added later), and a 48V power inverter.

I'm using that to make AC electricity that gets routed to the other electric outlets in my garage. The tractor is using individual, low-amp, battery chargers. Right now, the chargers are only pulling 65 watts total (the batteries are mostly full) so just sunlight should almost be able to keep up with that.
Once the sun is no longer on the panel, there's still 4800WH of juice in the UPS battery pack. That should run those suckers for a while!

I have 7 more of the 60watt/48V solar panels, but I don't have any extra cables with the MC3 connector on them (which is odd and expensive) so I really can't hook up any more panels right now.
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Old 08-28-2010, 08:22 PM   #114 (permalink)
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That's cool Ben! Harbor Freight had a sale on the panels you used to use, so I couldn't resist. After shipping it was still shy of $200. I stuck it up on my carport today, and I told my wife "Man, we could put 30 of these up here!". She said "Ok! Let's get one a month!".
So now I have 45 watts that I don't know what to do with.
I wish there were an Elec-Trak around here for sale. Maybe I can charge the girls' Barbie car....
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:48 AM   #115 (permalink)
EV test pilot
 
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A carport is a perfect place for PVs for EVs!

The nice thing about a 12V system is that it's real easy to expand by adding more panels in parallel.

For the harbor freight panels, the panels themselves are good, but the little charge controller box that comes with it isn't rated for too many amps. You could get several of those systems and rig them all together through a single, better, solar charge controller.

To expand your batteries, you could start with one or more 12V batteries in parallel, and then add more as you can afford/scrounge them.

In my case, the PV panels that I bought are 48V, and I managed to scrounge a 48V UPS. The best thing about a UPS is that it puts out true sine wave alternating current. Most of the less expensive power inverters (like the simple ones that plug into the cigarette lighter socket in your car) only produce square-wave power, which doesn't work well for electronics and certain other item.
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Old 08-29-2010, 01:10 AM   #116 (permalink)
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Video!

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Old 08-29-2010, 11:02 AM   #117 (permalink)
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Thats awesome Ben!
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Old 09-25-2010, 06:17 PM   #118 (permalink)
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Always wanted one of these.
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Old 07-03-2011, 08:30 PM   #119 (permalink)
EV test pilot
 
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It's summer, time to mow the lawn.....

Last week, I had a couple problems with the mower.

The main thing is the steering is all screwy. If I make a sharp turn, I can feel gear teeth slipping, and the tractor doesn't turn so well...

Also, I know the blades must be dead dull, as I haven't sharpened them in at least a season.

The third thing is that the mower deck isn't level, but there's not a ton I can do about that. There are two cables that lift the deck. I can make sure those are the same length, but the four rods that the deck pivots up and down on are rusty and the ball joints on the end aren't easily replaced.

So, today, I took the mower deck off and removed the steering column.
Here's the deck with the blades removed and some of the icky old grass scraped away.



The big thing that I noticed was that not only were the blades dull, one of them was BENT. Last time mowing the lawn, it did feel like one of the blades was off balance enough to cause some bad vibration.



I made a run to the hardware store, but they didn't have any generic 18 or 19" blades handy, so instead, I pounded the blade flat with my short-handled sledge, and ground enough off the opposite side to balance, and then sharpened it up.



Cheaper than buying a new blade!

Also, on the mowe deck, there are 4 pins, like cotter pins, but they are welded to the frame of the deck. Well, used to be welded.... Three of them had cracked their welds. I think that was adding to the non-level deck. I dragged out the welder and fixed that!

I also pulled out the two steel cables that lift the deck, and adjusted the length of one, so that they are close to the same length than they were before.

The steering is an issue though. There are 4 bronze bushings on the tractor that connect to two "ears" that bolt to the frame. 3 of those were replaced shortly after I got the tractor. This is the fourth one now that finally rusted out, so the very bottom of the steering is no longer held in place. I even already HAVE the last replacement bushing, but I can't use it! Here's why - on the very bottom of the steering, the last owner WELDED the steering arm onto the shaft. I guess he got sick off tightening the set-screw. But for me, it means there's no way to get the steering shaft off to replace the bushing! Gal dern it!

The real problem is that the entire steering shaft drops down about an inch from where it used to, so the top gear doesn't mesh with the steering wheel gear anymore. All I did was put a cotter pin in the top of the problem shaft with a thick washer to hold it up. The bottom of the shaft still slops around, the the two steering gears now mesh well. There's a fair amount of slop in the steering when changing directions, but otherwise it works OK.

Here's a photo of the rusted out part.


So, after all those hours of work, I DID get to mow at least part of the lawn.

Here's the weird part - the mower is much QUIETER than before!
I wasn't expecting that. I thought most of the noise was the pulleys and transmission, but I guess a lot of it was actually the mower deck lift, motors, and blades! Go figure!

Oh well, the mower runs better now, and I hope I can keep it going a long time!
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:07 PM   #120 (permalink)
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The ball joints that you need on the deck can be replaced with spherical ends and bolts.

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