Thursday, April 12, 2007

If they gave medals for being stupid

I would have won one today.

It all started last night, after a day of The Mrs. hyping our big impending doom snowstorm. I had been contemplating putting My Beloved back on the tractor in anticipation, and I finally decided to do it when it looked like the alternative was sitting up making balloon animals all night.

I decided to time myself. It took me precisely 3 min and 21 seconds to remove the mower deck. Putting back on the blower didn't go as smoothly. Step #2, installing the drive mechanism, caused me to lose confidence in my memory when it didn't go right back in on the first try, and I ended up digging out the manual only to learn I was doing it right. It's just very finicky about being centered before lifting it up. At the 31 minute mark, HannahC had a compooter problem, and I had to go reboot it for her. I stopped the timer.

Unfortunately, when I finished the job and checked my timer, it still said 31 minutes. I never restarted it.

But the whole thing was maybe 45 minutes to an hour. It takes a lot longer to put back on than to take off. Next time, I'm sure to be faster.

The tractor was facing into the garage, as when I had removed the blower, I'd driven it to the back and unhooked it there so it would be out of the way. But if it's going to snow, you need to be facing out of the garage so you can blow the snow as you exit rather than having to back out and turn around in the snow before beginning the clearing operation. I decided that since it was 11:30pm, and MaxieC was asleep in a bedroom above the garage, I would not fire up the tractor to turn it around. I left that for this morning.

This morning, The Mrs. had a dental appointment, so I was home watching The Childrens until about 10:10 when she got home. Then I immediately went out to the garage to turn around the tractor before heading to work. I cleared the 165 plastic vehicles that had somehow migrated behind it, started it up, released the parking brake, and hit reverse.

Nothing.

Hit forward.

Nothing. No movement. No sound of anything trying to move. No vibration. Nothing.

I figure I must have left the transmission in neutral, as I had to roll the tractor to put on the chains the night before. The little lever is in the back where it cannot be moved when driving since, according to the manual, it should never be moved with the engine running. Fine. I shut her down and go around back.

The lever is not in neutral. It is engaged. I flip it in and out a couple times just to make sure. Then I tried again. Nothing.

Rats. Must have knocked the drive belt off while futzing around the night before installing My Beloved. I get under the tractor and check. The belt routing looks fine. I pull out the manual to compare just to be sure. Yup. It's fine.

So I wiggle the belt. Wow, it's loose. Way too loose to drive anything. Strangely loose given that I mowed the front lawn, gave MaxieC a joy ride, and then drove the tractor into the garage just a week ago. The tensioner spring is OK. The tensioner idler wheel moves back and forth freely. It just stops before the belt is tight.

I decide, just to make sure, to check the driveshaft that drives the pulley. That same driveshaft drives the power takeoff through an electric clutch. I start her up and hit the power takeoff engage. My Beloved starts churning her blades just fine.

OK, driveshaft is working.

I consult the manual. There are three possible causes for loss of motion, according to the trouble-shooting guide. Number one: the parking brake is on. I check this again for the millionth time. It is not on. Not only is it disengaged, but I pushed the tractor out of the garage with no problems to get a look at it, which I never could have done with the brake on.

Number two: worn/broken drive belt. Definitely something wrong with the drive belt or its mechanism.

Number three: air in the transmission, which can come from too much pushing it around in neutral. I follow the purging directions, and nothing improves.

Now, I'm smart enough to know that it's probably not the belt. But I can't find anything else wrong. I mean, it's just a belt and a couple pulleys. And the belt is loose. It would all make sense if there was some kind of spontaneous stretching failure mode for belts. But this belt already has like 70 hours of runtime on it, and belts don't stretch much after the first few hours. I can't imagine how the belt could have stretched an inch while just sitting there in the garage for a week. But it's my only hope of being able to fix it today.

I decide to go get a new belt since, if it's not the belt, I'm going to need a spare anyways.

A guy at work had been telling me about a belt supply place he found up in the north end of town. All they sell is belts. I grab my parts manual, locate the belt and part number, and head to the store. It's about 15 minutes away. When I get there, I stroll confidently up to the counter, parts manual in hand, and say, "I need a drive belt for a Husqvarna lawn tractor. Here's the part number."

"Uhhh... that's a Husqvarna part number, and we don't carry Husqvarna brand belts. I'm sure I have the right belt in another brand, though."

"Fine."

"But I don't know what belt that would be, cuz I don't have anything that would cross-reference to a Husqvarna part number. Bring me the old belt, and I can give you the right one."

Shit.

I head home. On the way I am struck with brilliance. The place I bought My Beloved was a Husqvarna dealer and repair shop. They must have the belt, or at least know what is the right one. They are 20 miles south of where I am, though. Then another flash of brilliance. "Self, why don't you stop at home on the way and call them first."

So I do. The nice lady takes the part number, disappears for a bit, then comes back to say, confidently, "I don't stock that belt in a Husqvarna brand. I'm sure I have a compatible drive belt, though, as I stock just about every size. Just bring me your old belt, and I'll set you right up."

Great. Now I have to remove the old belt before securing a new one. Whatever.

I start looking into the belt removal and quickly discover that it cannot be done without removing the blower first. Argh!

So I start removing the blower. First thing I remove is the crank for the direction of the chute. Mere seconds, as it is just one cotter pin. Then, I remove the height control lever assembly, which comes off almost as quickly as it is just one hand nut.

As I remove the height control lever, my brake pedal pops back another 2 inches.

Oh you have got to be kidding me.

I hop on the tractor, fire it up, and it moves just fine.

The mounting rod for the controls had been bent in about 1/4", and the brake pedal was just barely rubbing the side of the assembly and getting stuck halfway up. Not far enough down to have the brake on, but far enough down to disengage the drive belt. I bent the mounting rod back.

Shortly thereafter, I noticed I was singing a little song to myself that I had made up without even thinking about it. It went like this:
Oooohhhh, I'm a f'king idiot.
Yes I'm a f'king idiot.
I'm the biggest f'king idiot
You ever seen.

5 comments:

wife said...

I'll bet the big storm will miss us by 5 miles.

ellie said...

I think it would have been more idiotic to replace something that wasn't broken.

ikforud!

cletus said...

if it aint broke dont fix it............eyyoeluu........

Anonymous said...

To what tune do you sing your song?

CherkyB said...

I sing it to the tune of the schooldchild taunt "Naa naa naa naa naa".