I currently have a clearing project (pictures elsewhere on this
site) and have had the logging and hoe work done. The process
of renting a cat to finish the job via the guy who I had do the
hoe work was dragging on. I noticed that a neibor had an old
cat, and it turned out that he was hoping to get rid of it. The
cost of the cat would be a fraction of what it would cost me to
finish my earth-moving project so I decided to buy it.
I figured that even if the cat was totally non-functional for the task at hand, I could probably part it out and get my money back anyway although it is _not_ my intent. My hope is to make and keep the machine running well enough to do minor work at my place several times per year. So far it seems that between my sister who own the ajoining property and I, we seem to have a need for a cat at about that frequency. Also, of course, when I'm an old(er) geezer, I will have (yet another) project in restoring the machine to it's original state of perfection.
The main problem is that I simply love old machinery which is a character defect that has cost me dearly over the years!
Initial Pictures Before I technically bought it, I took these pictures.
Day One: (8/11/04)
Met the guy who's selling at the farm about a mile from my place. He's a very cool old guy in his early 80's. He had bought the thing in the late 90's in town and it was not in running condition. He did a certain amount of work on it like cleaning the tank and changing the oil and so on, but I don't think he put any real money into it. He also had converted the pony motor's mag into a distributor and hooked up a belt driven starter motor. His use was limited to pulling out some logs around the farm and so on. It had not run for about three years at the time he and I started it (8/11/04).
We detected no spark, so pulled the mag/distributor. Should have been fine since it was clean and dry...maybe we just didn't see spark. Anyway, we operated it manually and it worked. Re-installed it, and the pony started up. _Lots_ of end-play! Since the bendix doesn't stay, he starts the pony with the diesel engaged. The diesel needed several blasts of ether early on to keep running, but in a minute it ran...sort of. It was pretty steady after a minute or two.
After 10 minutes of warm-up, the owner pushed a bit of dirt and some rocks around. Seemed to do OK. He seemed to be familiar with things.
I drove it around a little. I was not competant and compfortable on it. The cable-blade works nicely, but is a bit touchy and doesn't hold a position well. Faster than I had expected too. Since the main clutch needs to be engaged to operate the blade, things are a bit tricky. The main clutch and steering clutches seemed to work well. The right side brake works fine, but the left side just barely works.
My initial intent was to drive it home, but several elements conspired against the adventure. Namely, my incompetance as an operator coupled with the defective brake and a 15 percent grade (complete with rock faces and cliffs) that starts off the journey.
In the half-hour or so that we ran the motor (albeit under light or no load), it didn't overheat...or at least didn't boil the water...the temp gauge seems broken. The oil pressure started out near the upper side of safe, then fell to the lower side as it reached operating temp. The fuel pressure was good accourding to _both_ gauges. At low speed, the motor would hunt a bit which I didn't like in a diesel. The smoke was not excessive, but was blue rather than black. Surely the motor is on the worn-out side which I rather expected.
The main defect that appears to me is that the running gear (sic?) on left side is pretty shot. The idler had been welded and is worn out again. The support going back to the rear has been repaired with great amounts of welding, and one of the rollers seems to touch the sprocket. The spring is oddly not straight, but I can't put my finger on where the problem is. A good number of the track pins outer collars (sic?) are broken. He claims it has never thrown the track, but that he has always worried about it. My thought is to run it long enough to determine what other kinds of problems it has, then if I feel that it is worth the effort, attempt to obtain a whole replacement side.
Day Two: (8/12/04)
Started out be taking these pics. I focused on trying to capture the defects of the left side undercariage. Also there is a pic of the guy I bought it from (Spud) and his brother upon who's property the cat sits. A few of a BMW manifold my friend made which are unrelated but on my camera too :)
Day 2 cat pictures Tried to capture defective left side undercariage.
Yesterday I had tried to turn the brake adjusting nut and feared that I would break it. Today I did so again and got it to turn. Loosened it quite a ways then used as much WD-40 as I dared not wishing to get it on the brake lining. I was able to tighten it to have the same travel as the right side.
After lunch, I went back and got tied up helping bring down a hung alder tree. Back to the cat, I first changed the pony motor oil, lubed the track fittings, then fired up her up and drove it a round a little bit. As was the case yesterday, it took some blasts of ether to keep the motor running initially. Driving the thing was a pleasure. The left brake now works better than the right, and that helps control the thing. Also, the blade winch seems to not be so hard to find a neutral spot for some reason. Since there were no obvious problems, I'm planning to go back just before dark and try to drive it home. It won't be the stupidest thing I've done, but not far off either.
At around 8:00 as it was starting to get dark, I went back to drive the thing home. I had trouble getting the pony going. Once engaged, the bendix doesn't really want to free so I had to start the pony with the diesel engaged. The diesel had run only 4 hours before so it was still warm and started nicely (relatively speaking.)
No real problems on the way home. Eventually I had it in 4th gear which was faster than I had planned. I parked it at my place and gave it a kiss as thanks for not breaking down in the road. I also promised it to try to take as good a care of it as possible. Hopefully that will be enough to convince it to do a little work for me tomarrow.
Day Three: (8/13/04)
Wow...it's Friday the 13th. Good thing I'm not superstitious.
Here are some pics. Some are durring warm-up, some after I did some work, and some of the work I did.
Day 3 cat pictures First day of work...hopefully not the last.
Got going early (for me...around 10:00). The bushing in the starter motor is worn out so the motor won't even run itself after cranking for more than about 10 seconds. Took it apart and could see the armature hitting all of the coils. Managed to get the pony started with the rope. Hard to get the bendix to engage...hatefull to think of the potential damage. Too bad the clutch doesn't seem to work. Next time I'll try warming the pony then rope starting it with the diesel engaged. The diesel needed it's usual ether to keep running, but not as much.
Work went pretty well, all things considered. After working for a while, I let the blade down too far and the cable came off the winch. Was able to back off the mound to get the blade up and re-attach the cable without shutting down (or loosing a limb to the winch!) After a couple hours, I noticed that the right steering clutch seemed to be slipping. Also, I was losing concentration so I went ahead and parked it. I'm probably not supposed to be working after 1:00pm due to fire danger anyway. I'll loosen up the clutch (which does seem to be tight) and hit it agian tomarrow. The main clutch seems less inclined to dis-engage with the machine fully warm too...I noticed that yesterday after my road-march. The hour-meter shows 3945 hours.
Day Four: (8/14/04)
Here's the pics of the cat in it's stuck possition and the dirt I moved today.
Day 4 cat pictures Second day of work...hopefully not the last.
Got started very early for me. Was able to start the pony motor with one pull! Found out that the pony clutch actually _does_ work. Was able to with one hand hold the bendix in and with the other flip the compression release, adjust the throttle, and control the can of ether. Hurry, no more grinding gears, and I don't have to screw with the broken starter motor.
Spent the warm-up time manually removing sticks from my fill. Got going and things went very well. Old man LeTourneau had his act together when he built that blade. It fills nicely and maintains it's load well. Good thing since I'm a novice cat-skinner.
The right steering clutch started slipping and had become tight agian. I adjusted it over lunch w/o shutting down the machine. That helped, but I still had to baby it or it would slip on a big push with the other clutch pulled.
The machine had trouble running out of power when backing up the steep slope. I'm surprised it pushed as well as it did and not be able to back like that. I never killed the motor, but came close a time or two.
Near the end of the day, I suddenly had trouble making the track turn when I was on a fairly steep side-slope. Got it out and to it's parking place, then I decided to walk the perimeter of my fill where I want to get some plants growing. Mistake! I got it a little into the soft dirt and the left side acted up again. Got it in worse shape trying to get out. Shut her down and took some pics. The hour meter shows 3950...not a bad days work.
Late breaking news...After getting un-tired, I wandered back up to the construction site and noticed that I really could do a lot more myself before calling in the pro's with finish equipement. Decided to adjust the clutches which were again tight-ish. Then poked around with the hand shovel for a bit. Then wondered if I could get it un-stuck without using the winch. Went ahead and fired it up and got un-stuck. Now that I'm sitting on the running machine... The machine was running well and I was really moving dirt. Decided to quite while I was ahead and it was getting dark anyway so I parked it back in it's favorite spot.
Day Five: (8/15/04)
Day 5 cat pictures Third full work day. Site looks pretty much like it will when done.
Got going early. Greased things up and topped the fluids off. Also started out by loosening up the clutches plenty. Good move it seems. There was more dirt to move than I remembered from Yesterday. Got a lot done, but was into some denser dirt and some roots which are harder digging. Cat ran well and I had no real problems except once when I wound the cable wrong and had to use a bar to get it unwound. Since then I rigged it so it would be hard to spool wrong.
Spud stopped by and visited. Bill and Candy too, and Bill said that I could use his wheel hoe if I paid hauling costs. Deal! He's the guy who did the track-hoe work, and seemed to like what I'de done with the cat.
Hour meter now close to 3954
Day 6, 7, 8, 9?: (8/16-21/04)
collection 6 shop site pictures
These days all kinda run together. The cat ran well except for the last day when I had trouble getting it started. After a while is started...I think I maybe was holding the pony motor engaged and not letting the diesel start or something. Had been starting well before. Eventually I borrowed a very nice wheel hoe and did some of the struff I couldn't do with the cat.
Hour meter now close to 39
Day 10-ish: (8/16-22/04)
collection 7 shop site pictures
These pics are almost exculsively of the shop site. It's done and graded, but no rock yet. The upper shop area isn't graded well. I'll pour a stem-wall first and backfill with the junk on the ground. The lower flat has room for a 50 foot wide shop, and I made the pad in anticipation of a 30x50 foot building.