The Redneck Machinist

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Fawteen
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The Redneck Machinist

Postby Fawteen » Wed Jul 22, 2015 5:46 pm

I have a ditch that runs right next to the house and down through the middle of my property to the stream that is my back property line.

It looks like hell all summer because cattails, hardtack bushes, alders, nightshade and every other sort of pestilential weed grows in it like...well...weeds. 6-8 feet tall.

I used to whack it back with a string trimmer but that's too much like work these days.

Happened to stop by a church rummage sale and found this:

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It's a Jari "Chief" sicklebar mower, powered by a nice little (ooooollllddddd....) 3 horse Briggs and Stratton. It was advertised as "only needing the starter fixed". Uh-huh. Well, I fixed the starter and took the completely disintegrated foam air filter off it and re-attached the drive pulley and fired it up. Ran good, cut good for about 10 seconds until the pulley fell off the drive shaft.

Got to looking and the keyway in the drive shaft was all hogged out and the key wouldn't stay in.

Now I'm down to three choices:

1. Weld the pulley on. Dang sure won't come off, but if I NEED to take it off to service a bearing or whatever, I'm screwed.

2. Take the shaft to a machine shop and wait who-knows-how-long for them to weld it up and cut a new keyway in the shaft.

3. Try to cut a new keyway myself.

Of course you KNOW which option I went with. I don't have a Bridgeport, but I DO have a new cross-feed table for my drill press.

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I ordered an appropriately-sized cutter from Amazon, set the belt drive for the highest speed, clamped the shaft in the vise that I mounted to my cross-feed table and set the drill press table height to center the cutter on the shaft. (By eye...)

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Several very light and well-oiled cuts later, voila! A new keyway. Perfect? Not even close. Good enough for the girls I go with? Absolutely.

I welded up the old hogged-out keyway and started grinding things back to some semblance of roundness. I got it close enough and got the shaft back in the mower and the pulley on, and the pulley stays on and it mows nicely.

However, the bore of the pulley is hogged out as well, and I have no way to to get the shaft truly round, so I think I'll stick a crowbar in my wallet and order up a new shaft and pulley from Jari. But for now, this works.

Couple of notes:

1. I need to take the time to chase out all the threads on the t-nuts on my Grizzly (Chinese) clamp set and get all four corners of the cross feed table clamped down.

2. I need to play with the gib adjustments on the cross-feed and snug it up a bit.

3. Next time I'll move the vise to the right on the cross-feed so the weight is more centered over the drill press table.

All of the above will tighten up tolerances and make for a better job next time.
What do you mean I can't do that?

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Dieselrider
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Re: The Redneck Machinist

Postby Dieselrider » Sat Jul 25, 2015 10:17 pm

I like the job you did. Now a question for you: How do these type machines do on rough terrain and sidehills? I weedwhack a lot of fence line and I ain't gettin no younger (not as old as you and Mike mind ya) . :D I have been wondering if something like this would be good for trimmin under fence lines. Is it self propelled? How are they on fuel? How heavy are they to drag out a ditch should that become a sityiation? Inquiring minds and all that. thank you.
If it was easy, anyone could do it!

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Fawteen
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Re: The Redneck Machinist

Postby Fawteen » Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:13 am

Well...um....

It is self propelled after a fashion but there are a couple of problems with that:

1. No clutch, strictly in and out with a lever which means you have to take one hand off the handlebar to operate it. Not ideal.

2. No reverse.

3. The drive is a pinion shaft that engages the slots on the "tires" and both the pinion and the tires are worn on mine. Transport is okay, driving into heavy cover not so much.

So, I just push it and that works okay. It rolls fairly freely, not noticeably worse than a regular lawn mower. I did both sides of a couple hundred feet of ditch without getting unduly worn out. Way better than a weed whacker IMHO. Rolled it down over the bank as far as I could reach and pulled it back up.

Only real problem is that the cutter head swivels and fairly often when backing up one end or the other will snag on something. Easily remedied by pushing down on the handlebars and lifting the cutter over the obstruction, but the handlebars are pretty low to start with and I wind up bending over pretty far sometimes. Not the most comfortable position for a superannuated feller like me.

It does a WONDERFUL job of cutting heavy weeds and light brush though. I went right through small alders, poplars and rugosa rose (up to say 1/2" thick) like a hot knife through butter. A string trimmer would either wrap around it and stall or go through string like crap through a goose.
What do you mean I can't do that?

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Dieselrider
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Re: The Redneck Machinist

Postby Dieselrider » Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:40 am

Thank you for the response. Gravely used to make a similar machine with a sickle bar or rotary mower that could be switched out. I have never owned one or operated either so, I don't know how they compared. I do think the Gravely was self propelled and had reverse but, I could be wrong.
If it was easy, anyone could do it!

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Johnson
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Re: The Redneck Machinist

Postby Johnson » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:05 am

Those are handy. :mrgreen:
One who has Imagination without learning has wings without feet.
JJK Haywood


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