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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,
As my log-in says, I'm into brewing beer. That's my obsession. That said, electrical, plumbing, woodwork... great... I can certainly hold my own and DIY about 99.9% of it.

Mechanical stuff?? Forget it. ABSOLUTE disaster. I can change an air filter and fill it with gas... that's about it.

I have a Ariens GT18. I think it is a 94-95. Electric start, Kohler engine. I bought it with the house my wife and I bought about 5 years ago. The problem is with a lawn tractor that old (not that it's THAT old) there is normal wear and tear and I can't do any of the work since I have no idea what I'm doing. Add on top of that the fact that there are only two places remotely close to me where I can take it for service and they both have 3-6 month waiting periods... and one place tried to absolutely freakin' screw me one a simple repair once before.

Right now the engine was sounding a little rough and I thought it might need a little oil. I checked the dipstick and it looked about half to the "full line". I dropped about FOUR ounces... that's IT of 10w-30 into it since I could have sworn that's what the repair shop recommended, fired it up and the thing sounded like the engine was going to drop out of it, banging away llike crazy and then dying instantly when I gave it some gas or put it in gear.

Now I'm figuring I somehow managed to put too much oil in it. I have no idea where the drain for the oil even is on the thing so I end up spinning off the oil filter twenty times until I can get a little oil out of it and get it going again.

Got it going and into the shed.

ALREADY very long story short... it's too much lawntractor for me. It has a 48 inch snowthrower attachment. A huge mowing deck (I think also 48 inches) a huge tow-behind spreader, a small little trailer and then a large pull-behind lawn vac. I have a neighbor plow my driveway for about $100 a season so I don't have to do that anymore and with the addition of some fences and landscaping, the tow-behind lawn vac to pick up clippings is a pain in the *** not to mention the thing weighs 400 pounds and is a pain to get in and out of the small shed I have everything in.

I'm thinking about jsut selling the whole big lot of the stuff and trying to get enough to pay for a "regular" ride-on with the two bags hanginging off the back.

- Don't sell it, that's stupid, the oil thing is an easy fix?
- Don't sell it, you won't get much for it and a new one is gonna cost you way more?
- Sell it! You should get a decent price for all of that and get something that fits your situation better??

Any thoughts?

Sorry for the long first post.
 

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Well I am a BIG fan of the older tough GT's, but I got to say, if you cant repair it yourself, its tough... As you have found its tough sometimes to find someone that repairs them for a fair price. I would vote sell, and get something new.
 

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Whats the dipstick say now. If the oil level was half way down from the full mark, 4 oz. isn't likely to overfill it anyway.
Who changes the oil for you? It usually isn't hard to find the drain plug. It would certainly be covered in the owners manual.
It sounds like you're in over your head.
My thoughts-
You need to find a shop to do maintenance and repairs and have your grass cut while it's being fixed.
Buy a new tractor, then find a shop to do maintenance and repairs.
In any case get an owners manual and spend some time with it so you can at least do some basic stuff and understand the tractor some.
You've gotten almost 15 years out of it and maybe that's all it has to give.
I always wanted to try home brewing, but never tried. I've enjoyed some good home brews though.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The dipstick still doesn't say it is totally full. It's so incredibly frustrating because I HATE stuff I can't DIY. If it is something heavy duty that is better left to a professional, awesome, I have no problem with that but it is the little stuff I should be able to do that drives me crazy. And like I was saying, the two places around me... one has a five month waiting period and the other tried to royally screw me the one time I went there before (to get an oil change)

A mouse had gotten up into the engine over the winter and built a little nest up behind the guard. The **** thing also chewed through a wire somewhere. I took to to this place and after three weeks they call. "Yeah, you've got a mouse house in there. He chewed through a wire. That's going to be $60 to fix the wire, plus the $50 it took us to 'evaluate' the problem. The bigger issue is you've gotta get that mouse house outta there. If you keep it in there it will overheat your engine and the whole thing will seize up. That's going to be about $1,000 dollars since we have to take the entire engine apart and off the tractor so we can get at it".

I swear to God that is exactly what he said.

... after I picked my jaw off the floor I told the guy to fix the wire, I'll be in to give him the $110 and then not to touch a f'in thing other than that. He tells me, "Hey, it's your loss buddy, that tractor is gonna seize up on you the first time you use it."

I get it home, grab my rachet set, pop the guard off, grab a coat hanger, straighten it out and reach in to where the "mouse house" is... yanked the whole thing out in about two tries. I then took my hose, sprayed it in there quick... any little pieace of grass and stuff came right out. That was two years ago.

Six freakin' minutes and a coat hanger and my so-called $1,000 repair was done!

Sorry for venting.

Yeah, maybe I'll grab a manual from somewhere... maybe there is some stuff I can do. I'm pretty handy, just no experience on the mechanical side.


Ugg... homebrewing is addictive. Fantastic end products but it is addictive. There aren't many of us that don't end up taking that hobby to the extreme.
 

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WOW!! a grand to pull a nest out.. Thats a tad bit rich!!!!!


Its realy not hard to work on these things. if the oil is still low, add a little more to it. Let the oil settle down before you re check it though.

Do you know what kinda motor is on it?? If not, see if there are any numbers on it, and list them. That will help us walk you through it all.
 

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It sounds like that shop you went to knows that it is the only show in town. I think they thought they had a sucker and tried to stick it to you.

A thought might be to check out the local gathering sight for the "Expeienced" Gentleman -- the gathering place for morning coffee. Someone in there might be able to assist you with the repairs or know of someone who does repairs on the side that is more reliable than the local shop. We have several retirees who tinker with mowers and are more reliable than the shops and much lower priced.

Your problem might be something simple but it might be internal and that could be trouble. Good luck and keep us infomed with how things are going.
 

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Thank you for all of the suggestions. I appreciate you guys taking the time to lend a hand. I will see if I can round up a local who is a **** of a lot more handy with this sort of thing than I am.



And actually no, I don't live on the Cape... I am in SE Mass but not on the Cape. "The Cape" is my bar.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f85/my-stuff-rig-through-pub-117869/

We call it the Cape because a long time ago my old roomates and I had this little bar set up in our tiny apartment called "the Cape". We called it that because we all worked for investment management firms where everyone summered on Cape Cod. When people would ask what we were doing for the weekend, we could say, "Oh just hanging out at The Cape". The name stuck and I've carried the name through to the bar in my current house.

Oddly enough I'm not even a real Cape Cod fan.
 

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Welcome to MTF. Great first post. Sorry you've got so much trouble.

I've never used them for fixing my tractor, but I've been given good service when buying parts through this outfit. Hope they're not the ones that screwed you over!

It does sound like you've got more machine than you can use. (Nice problem!) I understand where you're coming from, though. While you probably could learn to fix it and maintain it yourself, that's a lot of time you won't have to do other projects... like brewing. So, yeah, my first inclination is to recommend that you sell it and get something better suited for your tasks.

That leaves us with the next set of questions... What size yard are you mowing? Are there any hills? How big a deck do you need? Which brands are sold locally? And the list goes on...

:goodl:
 

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I occasionally brew up some stuff from Williams Brewing catalog. Nothing fancy, just something 'to do' mainly.
 

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I have about... I dunno... about an acre and a half of grass to cut. It's not a huge yard by any stretch but way too much for a push mower. My yard is also pretty hilly, as a matter of fact there's always one area that I struggle to pull the yard vac up... I just lose traction on the grass. I don't think I need a really large deck at all. Something "medium" sized is fine. The large one I have now isn't a problem but a hair more manuverability wouldn't be horrible either.

Thank you for the Morse suggestion! I'll definately check them out! No, it wasn't them. It was Norfolk Power closer to me. I'm in Norton so down 495 isn't that far for me.

My hope was that I could sell the machine I have... and the list of attachments (snow thrower, spreader, lawn vac, trailer) and hopefully make a decent percentage of what a new machine by itself would cost.

Hey disel_nut... yeah, I've never used them but have heard of them. I'm into all-grain now. I'm assuming you're doing extract brews from the kits? not there is anything wrong with that AT ALL. They make some tremendous kits nowadays. I go all-grain now because I built all ofthe equipment and it's a lot cheaper, more efficient and easier to manipulate my beers through all-grain. I typically brew 15-20 gallons at a shot.
 

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Cape Brewing---

I'm located in Raynham,and I could likely help you figure out what the problem is with your tractor!..I'm stuck home most of the time watching over an ill elderly mother,but could probably be able to go look at it for you...

While I'm not surprised at the ridiculous "estimate" the shop gave you to remove the mouse nest,its NOT an easy job to remove everything to get the blower housing off on some tractors--(my MTD had the same dilema as yours,and I'd opted to use compressed air and the garden hose to remove the nest rather than dissasemble the whole tractor)..

I only WISH I could charge prices like they do and not feel like a theif..too often I do repairs for someone, and only break even or LOSE money,after chasing down and buying parts,but I do help many non-mechanically inclined folks and elderly people from getting bent over at repair shops..

I know its hard for a shop to stay afloat in these tough times,but I think many of them simply charge too much,and then they wonder why folks balk at bringing things in for maintenence or repair,and they end up going out of bussiness..

I think that is why I see many nice tractors in scrap yards,with only minor things wrong with them lately,cars too--people hear it'll cost a thousand bucks to fix,and junk them,since they can buy new for about the same--but if you had someone who can fix it,often it can be done for peanuts--many shops steer folks towards buying new,then take the "old junker" off your hands,fix it cheap,and reap a healthy profit off of it too..I have nothing against making money,but not by taking advantage of people who aren't able to do their own repairs..
 

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Great Thanks!! There's a good chance I'll take you up on that.

As I mentioned above, I don't mind paying a reasonable price for someone who knows what they're doing to do work I'm incapable of doing right (or quickly) but unfortunately, the experiences I've had are similar to that ridiculous "mouse nest" situation.

Like I was saying... it took me four minutes to get the thing out. Every time I show up at a place to have something done, I must have "sucker" written on my forehead becuase I constantly get "Oh, yeah...well, we're going to have to replace the Swizzelsmit valve on that and that's going to be $700. If you don't replace that valve you'll probably have a nasty explosion that will kill you". In the mean time, the thing is probably running rough because the air filter is clogged.
 

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Sounds like a good place to stay away from!..unfortunately many shops are the same way around here,and FEW remain at all!..all the ones near me I bought parts at have gone under in the past ten years or so,the few remaining places seem to keep practically NOTHING in stock,they must "special order" it,so you have to wait,pay up front,and make 2 15+ mile trips to get a ten dollar item..it sucks..also if you leave something to be serviced,your lucky to see it again before FALL!..

I see many guys offering small engine repair on Craigslist now,but how good or HONEST they are I cant say..I'd be leery of anyone unless I knew them personally,or had good experiences with them before..there is a lot of people looking to make a fast buck any way they can nowadays,since many are out of work..but probably just as many honest joes who know their stuff too--its a crap shoot..

I know what you mean about the "sucker" written on your forehead comment,I get that treatment often when I go into a repair or parts place for the first time too--once I let them know I used to sell parts and worked a counter and have fixed things since I was 15 or so,and I'm 50 now,their attitude towards me changes a lot, when they realize I cant be BS'd!..It amazes me how they will try taking advantage of someone who's not mechanically inclined..

I was in one place that shall remain nameless waiting to get waited on,and a lady with a John Deer rear engine rider was asking "how much to get my mower running,it wont start".."Gee lady,it's hard to say--could be 50 bucks,could be 300,depending on what the trouble is--it's 50 bucks minumin for a diagnosis!---and we're really backed up now,we probably cant even look at it for 2-3 WEEKS!..she said "OK,Forget it!"..then asks is she could do anything herself to try getting it started,and the guy just looked disgusted,and rolled his eyes,and says "I really dout that Ma'am!--you might get hurt or make it worse,I'd have a pro fix it--I need to wait on the guy behind you,do you mind stepping aside"??..

I told him "no thanks,I'm all set!"--I wasn't interested in buying anything there after that,(probably didn't have it anyway!)--and I told the lady I'd be glad to look at her riding mower,and wouldn't charge anything to tell her what I thought the problem was,and was going to give her my phone number (and no,she wasn't exactly a hottie I hoped to get a date with either!)--she said "I have it with me,I WAS going to leave it here--but not NOW!--she walked with me to her truck,and the mower was in the back of it..

--I looked it over,within 5 minutes I had it running..the spark plug wire was off,the GAS was shut off,and it had a dead battery--I pulled the rope about 6 times and it fired up,after fixing those problems!..I saw the guy in the store watching from the window,with a scowl on his face..I told her the gas smelled old,the carb probably should be cleaned,and it'll need a new battery..

She then gave me a hug,handed me 20 bucks and invited me to have a coffee with her down the street at Dunkin Donuts..--she was nearly in tears,she was so grateful..I can only imagine the screwing she'd have gotten in she'd left her mower at that place to be fixed..

I later learned at the coffee shop her husband had passed away only 2 months before from a heart attack suddenly,at age 44..real nice lady,trying to keep her small horse farm and house from being repossesed all by herself,with a 10 year old son and a daughter in high school..I felt like a theif taking her money,but she wouldn't let me give it back!..I haven't seen her since,I hope she didn't lose the place..makes me sick when I see a person like her getting "taken"..
 

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:congrats: :congrats: :congrats:

My hat is off to you Tractor-Holic!

#1: I don't blame you for leaving after seeing someone get treated like that. There is no excuse for it.

#2: I sure that 15 minutes out of your day, of actual "work" and then the time spent with her afterward, will net you many, many good days of karma. She will remember you for the rest of her life for just taking a few minutes and showing some compassion.

The world needs more like you. Thank you for being a decent human being!
 

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I've brewed a lot of batches of beer, mead and wine ..... the wife would wash the bottles .... only part I didn't enjoy doing. Started with the kits in 1988 and just kept doing more myself, never got to the grain stage but was about to tackle it when I just quit brewing. Very addictive hobby. After reading about it I realise how much I miss doing it. With 20 gal. I assume you store in kegs
 
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