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Thread: Mower frame repair

  1. #1

    Default Mower frame repair

    My neighbor gave me his 15-year-old Craftsman riding mower because the frame and motor mount cracked, and he knows I weld. He said he got plenty of use out of it and wants to upgrade to a new Deere, and he's glad for me to have it.

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    The mower. It's a step up from my current 14.5 HP, 42" cut. It's showing its age (lift arms wallowed out, deck a bit beat up), but the fundamentals (engine and transmission) seem sound. If I can get it cleaned up, it'll be a great replacement.

    The frame is cracked and the rear motor mount is broken in two places, likely because of torsion due to the broken frame.

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    Ground out and tacked up. 3/32" E6011 at about 75 amps.

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    Welded up.

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    What a mess. I stink at vertical up, and doing it kneeling and bent over doesn't help. I did my best to at least get full penetration by watching the joint keyhole. I checked from the back side after it was all over and I did get full penetration for most of the joint, but boy is it ugly. No need to pick on me. I'll pick on myself!

    So let's just grind that mess away. At least there wasn't a lot of porosity and/or slag inclusion. Just a bit at the end where I tried to fill my crater.

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    Oh, that's much better. But I could still see a bit of the crack, so I put another pass in.

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    Well, that's not the worst weld I've ever seen, anyway. I ran this one vertical down, which I found to be a little easier than vertical up. But maybe it was just because I wasn't trying to fill a 3/32" gap anymore. BTW, I did round the corner and weld the top and bottom of the frame. It's only the last bead that was only on the side.

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    I didn't want to have to pull the motor off the mower, so I jacked it up from underneath and slid the motor mount out. Welding it up was a piece of cake.

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    Unfortunately, I forgot to take a before picture, so you'll have to take my word that it was in three pieces!

    I have a little maintenance to do like replacing the wallowed-out lift arms and repairing the wallowed-out holes where the front of the deck attaches, as well as fixing some cracks in the deck, but things are looking good!

  2. #2

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    It's hard to beat free... keep it under 30 mph and don't jump any hills and it should last a long time.
    2013 250EX : SSC Pedal : I-MIG 250P 20' Profax gun : Power Plasma 60 p80 torch : 3M Speedglas 9100XX : Evolution Rage 3 DB cold saw

  3. #3

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    Good for you,,,nice repair job,,,always like to see people doing that kinda stuff,,,turning someones junk into a thing of beauty,,You could add a fishplate on the frame to strengthen it if you feel it is a high stress area..
    Some of those lies people tell about me, are true

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by geezer View Post
    Good for you,,,nice repair job,,,always like to see people doing that kinda stuff,,,turning someones junk into a thing of beauty,,You could add a fishplate on the frame to strengthen it if you feel it is a high stress area..
    You know, I put some thought into that. Part of what complicates it is that a foot-rest (to keep you from kicking the hot muffler) and foot-board bolt on near there, so it's got to be flush. But that could be worked around. I thought about putting a reinforcing plate on the back side, then drilling holes in the frame and plug-welding the plate before grinding smooth. I was considering all these options, and somebody said to me, "It's a mower, not a race car. Weld it up and run it. If it cracks again, weld it up again." That made a lot of sense, and I ran with it.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by joshuab View Post
    You know, I put some thought into that. Part of what complicates it is that a foot-rest (to keep you from kicking the hot muffler) and foot-board bolt on near there, so it's got to be flush. But that could be worked around. I thought about putting a reinforcing plate on the back side, then drilling holes in the frame and plug-welding the plate before grinding smooth. I was considering all these options, and somebody said to me, "It's a mower, not a race car. Weld it up and run it. If it cracks again, weld it up again." That made a lot of sense, and I ran with it.
    Amazing,,,backside reinforcing plate and plug welds,,my thoughts exactly,,,great minds think alike...
    Some of those lies people tell about me, are true

  6. #6

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    Here's tonight's progress.

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    The above pic shows the wallowed-out mounting hole for the front lift arms. I was kind of 50/50 on whether to just weld up the hole, grind it smooth, and drill it out again, or whether to cut off the tab and fab up a new one. I went with welding up the hole, because I figured that way, most of my bad weld would end up getting drilled out again anyway. I even used the opportunity to burn up some old 3/32" 7018 that run really bad. At first, I started trying to build from the bottom up, figuring the shelf I was building would help the next bead lay in well, but it actually worked better going from the top down. The molten metal would sag and fill the hole better than when I was working bottom-up. Also, I ran DCEN for less penetration and faster fill on the relatively thin metal.

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    Above is the result, before grinding and drilling. And also after driving through some wet grass. Honestly, nothing much to see there, because I haven't even chipped the slag or brushed it.

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    I also discovered a nice crack in the sheet metal of the fender. Now this is a job I would never attack with stick, although I might-could get it done if I had to. But this is tailor-made for TIG. Except that there is that huge gap, which is hardly ideal for TIG, but I can make it work. I tried to think of ways to jam the crack back together, but I don't have a clamp with a throat that deep, and so in the end, I just left it the way it was and filled up the hole with weld metal.

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    The result. The part that looks like a hole is actually a piece of contamination that floated up.

    Next will be some work on the deck. There are some cracks that I'm going to vee out and weld up, and there is an anti-scalp wheel that has plumb broke off, so I'll need to fab up a new mounting bracket for it. This thing is coming together!

  7. #7

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    First off, Nice repair and mods by the way. Free great.

    I've had more than one of both brands. The non-commercial mowers. The John Deere was very smooth and mechanically good, but I think you might find that old Craftsman might still out live a new Deere (at least cosmetically). Their quality on the non-commercial mower, to me, has gone way down hill. Might want to have him research the internet first. Our last one, half was plastic and the other half (metal) all the paint bubbled off. While it ran fine is looked horrible. Was a 2005 and we sold it maybe 3-4 years ago. Should have lasted us longer for the price.
    Mike R.
    Email: admineverlast@everlastwelders.com
    www.everlastgenerators.com
    www.everlastwelders.com
    877-755-9353 x203
    M-F 12 - 7PM PST
    FYI: PP50, PP80, IMIG-200, IMIG-250P, 210EXT and 255EXT.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Disneyland
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    2,659

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    Even in larger commercial equipment, we used to be all Deere, but switched to Kubota some years ago. Deere just doesn't make them like they used to.
    Long arc, short arc, heliarc and in-the-dark!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,323

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    A larger tractor, free except for some welding- now there's a win-win. Careful your neighbor doesn't ask to "borrow" it back!
    DaveO
    Oxweld oxy acet gear
    IMIG 200
    PowerTIG 210 EXT... Amazing!

  10. #10

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    VERY cool repair. Please post a video of you riding this bad boy when you're done.

    cheers
    JohnG
    imig 200
    PowerTig 210 EXT

  11. #11

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    Nice repairs and an excellent excuse to burn some rods!

    For me anyway, it's really nice now that reduce, reuse, recycle is relatively accepted. It wasn't too long back when people just said I was cheap when I tried to salvage something by repairing it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Eastern Oregon
    Posts
    681

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    Let's see, equipment upgrade AND helmet time all for the cost of a few rods? Can't beat tha with a stick. I really need to find more people that just get rid of stuff like that.
    Penncrest Buzzbox - Infinite amp control! Man the 70's were good.
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    Everlast i-MIG 250P w/spoolgun - Really smooth, plenty of cajones.
    Everlast 250EXT - Sometimes it just takes a kick in the balls...
    Everlast 255EXT - Just started playing

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