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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In a post by HiPocket earlier this month, I was alerted to a good deal on a PT16e2 digital tach from ENM. It's very similar to the popular Tiny Tach. So I bought 2...

FYI, here's a related thread by Bolens1455 discussing the pitfalls of making sure your digital tach is matched to your particular engine cylinder count and firing frequency (one spark per rev or two, etc). My engine is a Kohler Courage V-twin (2 cyl) OHC. One spark per rev.

Below are some pics with notes of the installation.

Here's the tach out of the box:


And here's the instruction sheet:


So... where to mount it? First, I figured it would be cool if I mounted it right above the throttle lever, very close to the control it was related to. In fact, there's even a flat void area just above the throttle on the i1050 of perfect size for it. This picture shows the approximate location:


However I was concerned about exposure to the elements. I did some snowblowing with this tractor last winter and the cowling did get quite snowy and wet, and this location would be fully exposed. So instead I opted to mount the tach in the recessed instrument panel area (which you can also see in the photo above.

Here is a view from the back of the instrument panel, where the tach will be mounted:


That component in the center is the OEM gauge that indicates hours, PTO status and a few other things. The tach is going to the right of it in this back view (to the left of it from the driver's position in the seat).

Note the blue painters tape (and cardboard below it) over the positive battery lug. I knew I'd be tinkering around in there with tools and didn't really feel up to welding one of them to the battery and scaring the crap out of myself.

In preparation for cutting into the dash plastic, I made a cardboard template of the tach:


This template came in handy on both sides of the dash surface.

Here I'm using it from behind to locate where the cutout needs to be:


Marked the cutout location:


Ok, for the next part of this operation I'll be using my handy Dremel. I have to say, this is one of my most used tools. Here it's pictured with the rotary cutout bit in the chuck:


This bit works like one of those drywall "zip" tools. Works great on plastic, mostly just because it heats up and does a controlled melt-cut:


Next, I carefully lifted the instrument panel decal by getting behind it with a thin shiv of metal. It's stuck pretty firm but it's also very durable so thankfully it didn't tear. I propped it away from the dash surface and then drilled 4 corner holes from behind with the dremel while the cardboard template was in place:


Then I brought the template around front and stuck it to the label goo that was still on the dash surface (handy) lining up the rectangular window with the 4 locating holes I had just drilled. Note in this picture you can see the wax paper I'm using to protect the back side of the label so it's sticky surface doesn't get all "boogered up" with cutting debris, to use the technical term. Wax paper peels off sticky surfaces easily:


Here is after I finished doing the cutting with the "zip" bit. Notice all the black plastic "boogers". Good thing I used that wax paper. Unfortunately I didn't put 2 and 2 together and realize the sticky dash surface would also pick up boogers. So I did a fair amount of booger picking at this point to clear them out. Felt like a kid again.


Here's the view of the cutout from the back:


Now to make the same cutout on the instrument panel decal. Before removing it completely from the dash (it was still stuck down at one end), I lightly flattened it against the dash again (sans boogers now) and traced the hole from the back with a magic marker.

Then I peeled it the rest of the way off the dash and set it on a piece of wax paper and used a sharp implement to make little dimples at each corner of the traced rectangle. Then I used a straightedge to make the cutout with a utility knife:


Reapplying the instrument panel decal to the dash, everything lined up:


Now, back to the backside. My plan was to fab up a retaining bracket from some tin (actually I used aluminum sheet) and hot melt it to the plastic surface of the inside of the dash, so that I wouldn't have any screw heads showing from the driver's side of the dash. Here is what the bracket looked like. It's about an inch wide and maybe 10" long (I didn't measure the length.. just used another cardboard template):


Here's how the tach sits nested in the bracket. Note I scratched up the surface pretty good with a file, as well as scratching up the mating plastic surface, so the hot melt would have a better grip:


Here's the bracket just resting in place, not attached yet.


To attach it, here was my weapon of choice:


Here we are after hot-melting the bracket into place, and with the tach installed. Note it's a very snug fit, but the tach can still be slid out and back in again if needed for cleaning, service, etc.:


Lastly I needed to route the tach's cable. It was a couple feet longer than needed, but since it's coax and already terminated I didn't really want to mess with shortening it. So I just ran it along side of the existing wire harness and looped it back in a few places to take up the slack.

The instructions said attach the ground lead (white) directly to the engine block but I wasn't about to go untorqueing any block bolts, so I attached the ground terminal to the metal bracket where the oil filler tube is mounted on the right side of the engine because that bolts into the starter housing which is pretty firmly bolted to the engine block.

Then I ran the pickup lead (red) over to a nearby sparkplug cable and wrapped it 4 times (instructions said 3 to 4 wraps). It's shown exposed in this photo for illustration but I have it tucked up underneath the flywheel shroud. As far as I can tell I'm avoiding any hot spots.


Here's the finished dash close up. There's a little bit of plastic "fringe" still visible at the edge of the cutout but I'm not too picky. It works. Note in this photo the tractor wasn't running yet so what you see is the hour meter. In fact this tach hasn't been in operation for even 1 hour yet so it's displaying 4 minutes. Unfortunately this tach doesn't have a way to preset the hour meter to a desired value (76 hrs in the case of my tractor).


So, let's start her up and see what we get: (yes, I did test the tach well before starting all the cutting...). Here I'm at lowest throttle where I get between 1650 and 1800:


And here is at max throttle -- not quite 3600 like MTD specs for this tractor but I'm working on that (max throttle used to be 3050 on mine.. way low):


And here's a wider view showing the new dash -- tada!


Now that right side of the dash looks lonely.. what to put there. I'm thinking a fuel gauge because right now I have to get off this tractor to look at the fuel tank sightglass that is in the rear.

"Ray2" asked about how to install a fuel gauge over in this thread, so I'm going to watch that one for that discussion.

This project was a lot of fun, not too difficult, and definitely has the "cool" factor.:cool:

Plus I learned that my engine at max throttle was running 600 RPM low, which isn't good for a tractor with air-cooled hydros. The manufacturer recommends running at full throttle (3600 in my case) all the time.
 

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Very well done. Now all you need is that digital gas gauge :praying:
 

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Toolin,

That looks great, thanks for all the pictures and detail. I may put this on my "to-do" list.

I bought a round oil pressure gauge a few weeks ago, but realized I don't have anywhere to put it... this dash is tight. So I'll be doing some research on a smaller one.
 

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Great job and thanks for the "how-to". I'm sure more members will adapt this to their machines as well.
 

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Love the step-by-step photo instructions. 100% more useful and easier to follow than the esoteric manuals. What's the next mod :trink39:
 

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Great piece of work. Presentation is everything. :)
 

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Landscaping Nut
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Looks good Toolin. I posted a note somewhere about shortening those leads. It worked for me. Helped declutter things a bit.
 

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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks all for the kind words. I always enjoy a little show and tell.

How is that i1050 doing so far this year?
Actually all I've done with it so far this season (besides getting it ready) is a few passes with my trashpicked lawn sweeper to fluff up the matted grass after the snow finally melted, in an attempt to try to avoid snow mold.

I'm still waiting for the lawn to grow enough to take her out on the maiden voyage, at least as far as cutting goes. I got it last year in the fall for leaf cleanup just about when the grass went dormant so this spring will be it's first cut. Last weekend was really our first shot of warm weather this season but it will take it a few days to wake up and start growing...
 

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Nice tutorial. Step by step instructions clearly would help a person a bit nervous about trying the installation feel confident in trying it themselves. Thanks.
 

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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #14
Looks good ! Hope it don't get to hot under the dash from the engine, that hot melt glue might let go ?
Good point...

I picked up the hot melt gun specifically for this project (something like $25 at home depot). I had a "cool melt" gun once and the glue it used was soft as wax, so this time I made sure to ask for the higher temperature glue.

This glue seems pretty firm to me. I mowed for 1/2 hr on a 60 deg F day with it and so far no problems but I admit that's probably not the hottest it's going to see under the dash this season. I'll keep an eye on it.
 

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excellent install ... I can't think of anything I'd do differently if it was my own ... and I'm anal about my stuff

actually, now that I really think about it - I do have one minor suggestion ... I'd put some shrink tube around the inductive wire lead on the plug wire just to keep it in on there good and to give it some abrasion and heat protection, plus it looks great and makes for an extra clean wiring job ... certainly not necessary, but if you happen to have some (it's really cheap) it would be a nice touch on that machine, especially since you did such a clean job on installing it

GREAT JOB once again - excellent planning and nice, detailed documentation of it all ... this is inspiring to look at ... I may try this myself one of these days on some of my small engines ... a tach is a great investment

my vote for the other side would be 1. oil pressure gauge, 2. fuel gauge or 3. engine (or at least cylinder head) temperature gauge ... I'm looking forward to seeing what you put on it next
 

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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #16
excellent install ... I can't think of anything I'd do differently if it was my own ...
Thanks, RR. Yep, it was a fun project.. certainly less hassle than some others I've tackled with this thing (like the snowblower attachment).

And yes, that other side of the instrument panel with all that free space is just calling out for more gauges. My first choice would be fuel gauge, but even better would be a multi-function gauge (as long as one function was fuel).

Trouble with fuel sensing is the sender unit.. it's more complex, and since the fuel tank is not uniform, it would require a non-linear calibration. So I'm taking my time poking around looking for the right unit...

If you end up putting in some gauges, certainly take some pictures and post the results!
 

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Toolin,

You did a great job on the install. I have been thinking about installing one of these on the X500 and the JD318.
 

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Diesel Man
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I like it a lot there can be a pain to install but the pay off is good like what I use it for is to see how it takes me to mow a customers lawn so I can charge them and how long it take me to mow there property.
 

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Toolin you need to submit that to instructables.com

It would be nice to see more of an instrument cluster on LT/GTs besides the hourmeter and momentary voltage.
 

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Cool project!
Question for you. I am looking to buy the surface mount option (PT15) and it shows options for;
-- sparks once/rev
-- sparks twice/rev
I have a Kawasaki twin but am assuming this unit would come with just one wire to go to one plug-wire... so would be once/rev. There must be engines that spark twice on the same cylinder during a revolution??? I am not familar with that.
 

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