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Got Another One Of Grandpa's Tractors!


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This time it is an old Craftsman mower...GT/18 of early '80's vintage. :banana: Grandpa used to take pretty good care of it for many years...even if he was a bit of a penny pincher. Unfortunately, once he could no longer get around to keep up with the maintenance on it, the family neglected it...and when he could no longer get on it to mow, the family abused the hell out of it. After he passed away nearly 5 years ago, the family just flat-out trashed the thing.

Grandma & grandpa had an acre lot, and grandpa used to roll the yard every spring...get rid of the frost heaves and mole hills and give a nice, smooth lawn to mow all year. That hasn't been done in a while, now, and grandma can barely walk in the yard without worrying about twisting her ankle and falling. That doesn't stop the family (my older brother) from mowing the yard in high gear...he just wants to get the job done and get out of there...not to mention, his tendency to crash anything with wheels he's ever touched.

Anyway, they made grandma buy a new mower (and whaddayaknow, dumbass brother crashed it his first time out...not to mention already lost parts out in the yard that rattled off)

By the time I picked up the old mower, it wasn't even running. It was BARELY running when my brother ran it up onto a pile of wood to park it in the yard (instead of leaving it in the garage) until I could get up there to pick it up.

Took me all of 20 minutes to remove the tie rods, pound them straight on the vice, and reinstall them. The tie rod ends are a little loose...but they'll manage...for now.

$10 fuel pump rebuild kit and less than 15 minutes, and the mower was running again...enough that I was able to rip through the grass in the back yard. Yeah, that was their OTHER complaint...it didn't cut the grass very well. When I pulled the blades, I saw why. Not only was one of the blades loose, but I've seen butter knives with HANDLES sharper than the alleged cutting edge of these blades. Let's just say they were "well rounded"...might pass for a blunt object, but nowhere near sharp enough to even remotely pass for a blade of any type. I thought about sharpening them...even hit one with the grinder to start putting an edge on it...but after 20+ years of use and being sharpened, there really wasn't much left on the blade TO sharpen. The "cutting edge" of the blade was already an inch narrower than the rest of the blade. So, I went running around town trying to find new blades. Checked Tractor Supply Co., Orschlen's, Lowes, Sears, even ran out to the John Dear place Sears recommended. No luck. I was on my way up to Bucheit for some other items when I saw Sappington Pro Outdoors right next door (which is also the Kawasaki dealer...not sure why I didn't think of them earlier). Anyway, I walk in and ask...and they take me into a room that has one entire wall dedicated solely to lawn mower blades...every type, size & style imaginable. It took a little looking, but I found the blades I needed. I also picked up 6' of fuel line (to make sure I have enough) and a fuel filter. The old fuel line is cracked & rotted...and if the inside looks even 1/2 as bad as the outside, it would explain why the tractor didn't want to run until I pulled the fuel filter and blew it out....probably got bits of rubber hose blocking it up.

Anyway, over to Bucheit to get some 16 gauge 1/2" tubing (the 3/8" ID slips snugly over the 3/8" tie rods), battery hold down bolts (the tractor is missing one so the battery is loose), and about $1.50 in bulk screws reattach the hood brackets).

When I got home, I pulled the tie rods (again) since they were slightly bent again when I mowed...the tie rod ends are loose enough that there is just enough play in the wheels that if I turned the wheel all of the way, the inside wheel would get sucked around and I'd have to stop, get off, and manually turn the wheel back straight. I straightened 'em out again, and measured the distance between the jam nuts and cut the tubing to the exact length I needed. Pull one end off, slip on the piece of tube, tighten the jam nut to the tube, then the tie rod end to the jam nut. When I put it all back together, I used the second hole on the wheel end...won't turn as sharp or as quick, but it'll also be easier on the tie rods and it should keep the inside tire from getting sucked around during a tight turn.

I gave it a few squirts of grease on the deck and kingpins, too.

All that's left to do is change the fuel line and it ought to be back to a decent condition. Total expense to date is less than $70 and barely an hour of my time actually turning a wrench. The fuel line will probably double the time, since I'll have to remove the seat and sheet metal above the tank to get to that end of the line.

Not bad for a "junk" mower.

I'll probably have to tear down the engine eventually...it is nearly 30 years old, been run hard & put away wet for 5-10 of those years. It uses a little oil (probably leaking out of the front seal), and when it bogs down, it blows white smoke that smells like raw fuel out of the exhaust. That'll probably be a winter project. I could probably just buy a new engine to bolt in there, but what would be the fun in that? Besides, that ain't the way grandpa would have done it.


Loaded up to bring to it's new home


Back yard in need of a serious mowing


After a couple passes...


Looks MUCH better...but still not great


Jack it up 'til the fuel spills out, then let it down 'til the fuel stops spilling...gives ya maximum room ta change the blades :thumb:


When approaching a 4-way stop, the vehicle with the biggest tires has the right of way!
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good thing you got that wheel tied down-wouldn't want it blowing away into the corn field.

Nice work on the tractor! :thumb:

Good job on the tractor rowdy, I like old things like that, actually even like them better when much older, I even like the kind you wrap the starter rope around and give it a good yank. I remember as a kid, pushing old mower down street, gas jug (glass gallon jug, believe it or not) and starter rope hanging from my belt. Its goood you still got it in family and got it running, good luck and have fun with it,,,Randy (ease over there in that cornfield and mail me some that corn)

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Wow...feels like a completely different mower! I put the new fuel line on the tractor today after work and put a few screws in the hood to attach the hinges. Ran great....most of the rattles are gone. New blades cut through the wet grass pretty easily...

Less than $70 in it so far. Still need the new tie rod ends...moving the tie rods to the second hole really increased the turning radius...and requires a lot more turning of the wheel to get it to change direction....but at least the inside wheel ain't getting sucked around in tight turns. Reinforcing the tie rods like I did kept 'em from bending again, so at least I got that right. The wheels are toed in just a little, though...so I'll have to correct that. Doesn't really matter TOO much, though...it's just a friggin lawn tractor....but it still bugged me.

Anyway, it's amazing what a little TLC will do for an old piece of "junk". :thumb:

When approaching a 4-way stop, the vehicle with the biggest tires has the right of way!
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