Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tractor tire wrestling


One thing that I've learned about heavy equipment is that you either pay for it in payments -- as when you buy it new -- or you pay for it in maintenance.  My big kubota tractor has been all sorts of useful on the farm, but being the thrifty individual I am, I purchased it used, and so have been going through it slowly fixing stuff that the previous owner(s) didn't do correctly. 
  Some of this is small stuff; they used regular hex nuts instead of lug nuts on the wheels -- that's small to fix, but its a dangerous jerry-rig.  After I spotted that I went through the tractor and looked at every pin and bushing, and sure enough, found several where they'd used the wrong part.  Fixing that stuff was a bit more complicated -- in one case they'd stopped making the part, and I had to have it fabricated, but now I'm pretty sure that the tractor is good in all respects and safe to operate.  But all of that costs time and money -- which I wouldn't have spent (probably) if I'd bought a new tractor. 
  Another big expense is the darned tires.  In this case the tires are down to about 10% tread, I got a hole in one of them, and after taking it off, found that the tire had ten (10!) patches in it, so I bit the bullet and bought a new set of rear tires. 
The tire itself probably weighs 250lbs.  Then you fill it with 800lbs of water saturated with calcium.  I don't know why calcium is there -- maybe to prevent the water from freezing or retard rust, dunno -- and so each tire weighs in at comfortably over 1,000lbs.  So you pump the liquid out of the tires through the valve stem, which takes about 30 minutes per tire, into two 55 gallon drums per tire.

Then you dismount the tire, and beat on it with a sledgehammer, and eventually remove it from the wheel.  and do something similar to put it back on.  This is just sooo much fun that I had to share it-I called the local tire place and had them do the work.  Took 3 hours. 
 With the tire off I get to see parts of the tractor that I don't usually.  This is a huge cast iron weight that's bolted onto the rear hub.   I put a quarter up there for size; it's probably 15" wide by 30" tall, and about 4" thick.  I'd guess a weight of 700lbs for this bit.  All of the weight - tires, wheel weights, calcium -- is there so that you can lift heavy loads with the front loader and not tip over forward. 

Well, after watching this for a while, the new tires are pretty, and all for less than the cost of two weeks in Hawaii with an open bar!  woo hoo!

7 comments:

Anon said...

When you go to buy used equipement, bring your mechanic friend with you. If that tractor you have is four wheel drive, you might have calcium in the front tires too.

dinkleberries said...

Is it my imagination or is Anon condescending? Looks to me like Bruce has adequate mechanical skills. And about the calcium in the front tires if it is four wheel drive? What does that have to do with providing a counterbalance for the front loader? Did you read what Bruce wrote? Or did you not understand it? Maybe I'm being oversensitive as I like to give too much advice too, lol

shane said...

do you often lift things heavy enough to justify the weighted tires? how much could you lift safely with tires filled with air?

Anon said...

I wasn't trying to be condescending.I'm sure Bruce has adequate mechinical skills and so do I but I would still bring a mechanic friend with me when shopping for used equipement especially equipement with motors like a tractor or a truck. It's always good to have a second opinion.As for the calcium in the front tires, I once had to replace the front tires on my 4-wheel drive Ford 7710 and was suprise to find calcium in them.I just wanted to give him a heads up about it. Besides calcium acting as counter balance for a front end loader it's main purpose is to give weight which results in traction when pulling tillage equipement or other heavy loads just in case you didn't know that dinkle.

dinkleberries said...

Ok, Anon, Thanks, I didn't know that, I always like to learn new things. Terse comments tend to leave a lot to my imagination. And that can go anywhere. . . .

Bruce King said...

Shane -- the front loader on the tractor can lift 2500lbs, and I'm using it every day for something. Gravel, bags of feed (1 ton bags), wood chips, all sorts of stuff get moved with the tractor. The weight keeps the tractor firm when I've got it loaded near capacity.

Allannah Kemble said...

Changing tractor tires really is hard work. Just imagine the massive weight of the tire alone. But, even though it is hard and sometimes a bit costly, you can look at it as preparing for the future. By the way, people use water saturated with calcium because it acts as sealing agent. It’s a preventive measure to seal any holes and punctures in used tires.


@Allannah Kemble