Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Update on Ursa

Now that 2 weeks have gone by since Winter Storm Ursa I thought I'd update.

The Polaris Ranger
The Polaris Ranger XP 900 snapped 2 belts and destroyed the secondary clutch.  My dilemma was whether to spend $400 for an updated and vastly improved aftermarket secondary or $1200  for a complete Duraclutch replacement. After some agonizing and talking to a guy who sells them, I decided to go with the Duraclutch. I'd been eyeballing them before this failure so this wasn't a fresh decision, but $1200 is still a lot of money.  Here's their promo video:

The clutch came in and installation went well, thanks to the clutch puller I'd ordered with the kit.  I snapped everything together and drove around the yard a little bit.  There was a lot of noise at idle which went away as soon as I gave it some gas. Something was obviously rubbing.  I started to just let things "break in", but no.... it kept nagging at me, so back up on the lift stands it went. I found that the rear edge of the housing was rubbing ever so slightly on the belt. When it gets power, the belt pulls into the secondary clutch (you can see this happen in the video) and clearance is then fine.

Belt rubs at lower right
How to get clearance at idle?  There are no adjustments visible on the housing. Just to see if the clutch housing might move a little, I grabbed my rubber mallet and gave the top of the housing some taps.  It didn't budge but guess what DID happen?  A bunch of broken belt pieces fell out of the clutch exhaust housing. You see, the clutch and belt need airflow to keep things cool There's an intake under the seat- and this is how water gets in to places it's not supposed to go- and an exhaust port that comes up over the top of the engine. It was up this exhaust that the broken belt pieces went, some of them going all the way through and falling out on the engine.

THIS explains why I was finding pieces of broken belt all over the place, why the broken belt smoke was so prevalent in the cab, and this may be why the second belt failed so quickly.  I didn't know that pieces could get up there, didn't clean out the exhaust, was in a hurry trying to get it running so I could use it during storm clean-up, and pieces probably fell out from there onto the spinning 2nd belt, causing catastrophic failure. Thank goodness I listened to the nagging voice in my head and checked this or I might've caused failure in the $1200 Duraclutch, too.

I removed the entire exhaust boot and cleaned it out, buttoned everything up, and felt a bit better about the situation. It still makes noise at idle, although not quite as much and I'm going to pop that clutch cover off once a week or so to look at things until I'm satisfied that it's going to be okay.

The Yamaha Grizzly

During the Blizzard, we checked the valves on the 2002 Grizzly 660 and found the intake to be a little tight. I'd had issues with hard starting- meaning, "physically hard starting" not "easy to turn over but just not starting" hard starting. The bike didn't idle very well until warm and smoked on start-up only. After adjusting the valves and putting in a new battery, the Griz starts immediately, doesn't smoke nearly as much, and idles much better.  It _seems_ smoother.  Might be my imagination, but I'll take it.

The Cattle On The Rocks

After the storm, we found 11 cattle stuck on a cliff.  Here's that picture again, just to remind you:

11 cattle are stuck here
My decision was to leave them be and see what might happen. We went back again and again to check on them and two weeks later, all the cattle have worked their way off the rocks to the surrounding vegetation.  There is one dead on the cliff, but she was dead when we first investigated.

In this pasture, my count is coming up just 3-4 short which is not bad considering that I'm sometimes counting a group of 150+ shifting, moving, fidgeting cattle and could easily miscount.

The Hurting Knee

During the clean up, my left knee was really hurting. It was stiff and wouldn't bend and any kind of shock- like jumping off the pickup- shot shooting pain thru it. When we were climbing around on the rocks checking out the trapped cattle, I could barely move. I'd try to bend my knee and it just wouldn't bend or it would really, really hurt to do so. The knee suddenly and dramatically cleared up on Thurs and all was well...until Sunday, when my ankle started hurting. I have trouble with pseudogout and now I'm thinking that my painful knees might actually be pseudogout manifesting itself there. I'm definitely going to pay attention to see if knee pain precedes foot/ankle pain.  Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot to do about pseudogout- it's actually worse than regular gout in that regards as there's not a food trigger. The manifestation is slower to show, lasts longer, and moves around. It will frequently move from my ankle to foot to toe and back in the course of an attack. On the upside, ibuprofen is fairly effective at reducing the pain.  Nearly 2 weeks later, my foot's almost normal.  Hoping it stays that way for awhile.

The Case 90XT Skid Steer

Prior to the blizzard, I'd managed to get water in the hydraulic system of the skid steer.  I was adding some fluid from a bucket that had sitting outside (under cover, but still outside) and after a little oil poured and I was nearing the bottom of the bucket, it suddenly changed to milky and then clear. I was slow to react- having never had this issue before- and then I realized that I was pouring water into the oil. Arghhh......  All would've been fine had I had time to decide what to do, but no.... we needed the skid steer and needed it now.  So, I ran it. During the 1st phase of the clean-up, things started squeaking and creaking, and I shut the machine down.  Water will sink to the bottom, so after letting the skid steer sit overnight we got a long hose and siphoned some oil/water off the bottom of the oil pan, refilling that amount (about 2 gallons) with fresh oil.

I investigated and finally found the oil drain plug. You'd think this would be easy to find, but skid steer manuals- and I have the $300 official shop manual- aren't really particularly helpful.  By this time the Case had been sitting for a week and when I drained the pan (which wasn't that hard after I bought the required massive Allen socket), a good deal of milky white stuff came out, followed by clear oil.  I drained 7 gallons (it holds 15) from the pan, and replaced it with 1 gallon along with a bottle of Sea Foam cleaners. Let that sit, then drove the trailered skid steer around the yard to slosh things around a bit.  Drained that and again, a little milky stuff followed by clear oil. Repeat.

I then decided that I should probably replace the hydraulic filter, too. Back to my trusty manual!  Where IS the filter?  Here's the illustration they provide:

Golly!  That is SO helpful!  Where IS this thing and HOW do you get to it?  Finally, I figured that I'd probably have to pull the cab forward.  So, we did that, using a couple of come-alongs to hold things down. I don't know if you've ever worked on skid steers, but there's a bunch of heavy stuff on them that if it falls, it's going to cut your head off.  Literally.  We got everything strapped down and ta-da!!! There's the filter!  Now to get one. Local parts place, amazingly, has one.  Cost is $55. This is not your average oil filter.  It's also not that easy to get out, but get it out I did. And from the old filter, ran a little bit of milky oil, then clear.  From the filter orifice ran more oil, this bunch clear from the get-go.  All in all, we've probably got 8 gallons out of of 15 drained and, yup, it took right around 8 gallons to fill it all back up.

We ran the machine for about an hour doing some general stuff and everything seemed good. Time will tell and I might periodically drain a gallon or so from the pan to see if it runs clear or contaminated.  If there's any money left this fall, I might have it flushed and changed by someone who knows that they're doing. That's a big "if".

The Grass

For us, the whole point of "moisture", of course, is to grow grass for cattle to eat.  Fat cattle = good sales prices = money in the bank = money to pay taxes, equipment breakdowns, dead wells, etc. = we might survive another year. I'm happy to report that Spring Storm Ursa did, indeed, leave some great moisture.  Plus, we've had rain twice since then along with a few sunny days (also essential for grass production).  Bottom line is a booming grass crop, possibly the best I've seen in 22 years of doing this.

But, it's not even summer yet and it's going to be a long summer so there's no use counting chickens until they've been hatched and taken to market and you've got the check in hand. Plenty of time for counting when the dealing's done.

Until next time.

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