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Discussion Starter #1
And so it begins again.

About 5 years ago, I bought a Snapper Pro 52" hydro walkbehind mower, really liked using it, made a powered bagger for it, then made a 54" plow attachment so I could use year round.

I've been looking for another Snapper Pro unit, and a couple years ago, found a Husqvarna 52" hydro walkbehind, and started fixing it up and making a brush/snowblower attachment for it (I also bought a 48" Bercomac Brush and 42/44" Bercomac Snowblower). Got the mount & brush mostly working, just needed a bunch of refinement to make it work well. Didn't like the controls, even after modifying them, as they were overly sensitive (imho), and the control locking mechanism was awkward and got in the way of where I want to put some controls for raising/lowering the attachment and turning the pto on/off. I probably could have solved these problems, but it would take a bunch of experimentation to get them right.

But, just recently, another Snapper Pro Hydro walkbehind turned up for sale (was advertised as a 32", which would have been awesome, but was actually a 48" deck), checked it out and it worked well, so I bought it. Now, I'm ditching working on the Husqvarna (will either sell it or make something else out of it's parts), and have begun working on making a brush/snowblower attachment for the Snapper, as well as a smaller deck & bagger setup for it, so I can use it on properties I mow that have big yards behind small gates.

Pic of the mower:
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It also came with this brush attachment for it, but it's smaller than the Bercomac brush I have, I'd like to be able to swap between the brush and snowblower attachments as necessary, this brush needs some work to get it going again. I'll keep it for a bit to see how the Bercomac brush works, but I expect to eventually try to sell it.
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So, I've got a long list of stuff to do:
-fab up new mounts for the hydro's, so the rear wheels can pass through narrower gates (currently 37", should get it down to 34"
-fab up a 34.5" deck and frame attachment
-fab up a frame attachment that connects to the Bercomac attachments
-fab up controls for raising/lower the attachments & turning on/off the pto from the operators position
-repower it with at least a slightly more powerful engine (currently an old 14hp Kawasaki), that will also start better in cold weather
-upgrade the battery & electrical setup to aid with starting in cold weather
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Started off with taking a bunch of measurements off the deck, so the new one I make will be similar. I'll also rob parts off the 48" deck (spindles, pulleys, idlers, mounting hardware) for the one I make. I'm planning on making the deck 34.5" wide, with a 34" cut, using 2 blades (same blades that my 52" hydro uses).

After doing that, I took off the mounting bracket for one of the hydro motors.
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I'll be making a replacement pair of brackets that each moves the motors motors inwards 1.5" (that's basically the limit without a lot more work, as that puts the two hydraulic lines really close to the outside of the frame). After getting them done, I'll re-measure the wheels, and possibly get slightly narrower wheels if necessary to make that 34" overall width.

I'll be working off that existing bracket to make the new one, as I'm terrible at measuring and then drilling holes in specific spots (really bad, as in, I've missed the spot by more than 1/2"), but I'll be welding together a bunch of flat pieces of 1/4" steel, as I don't have equipment or skill to accurately bend that steel to the right shape.

And I noticed one oddity that all the walkbehinds have (both Snappers and the Husqvarna), the large bolt holding the wheel hub to the hydraulic motor shaft isn't just a regular bolt, but a bolt "wrapped" in a thin covering of what I think is aluminum. I don't know what the purpose of it would be, as when installed, it only acts as a thin washer between the hub and the nut within the covering.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Started working on the new brackets. Made 4 matching mounting plates (they are the same length & have the same hole spacing as the original bracket, just looks wrong due to parallax error):
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Need to do a bit of metal shopping tomorrow, then make the remaining parts for the brackets.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Took way to long shopping for metal, and botched the job (wrong dimensions for one piece, forgot one size), so only had time to make one bracket:

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It's just under 1.5" narrower than the original bracket, so that should be enough. Tomorrow it's making a duplicate of this, install them to measure the wheelbase to double check, then remove and paint them, as if I don't do it now, they won't get painted...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Finished the second one, then checked overall tire width. Now have to clean them up for paint, and figure out some modelling software to design the deck.

Two matching brackets:
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Bracket mounted on the mower:
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Overall width 34.5", so just enough.
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Discussion Starter #6
So, with the wheel brackets mostly done (still needs paint), today I took apart the 48" deck and frame, as I'll need most of those parts for the new deck. The OEM triple spindle decks use 2 belts for the deck (pto to deck, then separate belt between the three spindles), while the double spindle decks just use a single belt, which I'll be copying.

Most things came off pretty easy, the pulleys were pretty stuck on the spindles so those took some penetrating spray and prying to get them off, the most difficult parts were the deck height adjusters (the P.O. mowed at the same height all the time, so they rusted in place). From past experience (my other Snapper Pro), I know that just trying to force it will break the adjuster (been there, done that, fabbed up the replacement), so this time I went for applying heat to break it free, which worked like a charm:
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The deck, disassembled:
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After that, I went for laying out the deck on my sheet of 3/16" steel, using the 18" blades my other Snapper Pro uses:
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And, my custom, heavy duty drawing compass:
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After drawing it out, and figuring out the angle the deck has to be at so it's width is 34.5", I decided the deck would have to be at too steep an angle (the left side of the deck going too far forward), as the front wheel on that side has to be out in front of it as well (not a problem with the triple spindle decks, as the two side spindles are behind the middle spindle, so the wheels don't have to be way out in front like one of them has to be in my case.

So, I inside, drew out the decks on paper, using a couple different blade widths, promptly did them wrong, and rather than redoing them, went for the numbers/spreadsheet method, to figure out the angle the spindles has to be at, for the overall deck width to be 34.5, with 1/2" between the blades, etc, (yay, high school math still rolling around inside the noodle), and it looks like 17.5" blades are the way to go (for that blade width, the blades overlap 7/8", with the spindles angled at 22.5").

Now, I need to make sure I can actually find blades that length, 1/4" thick with a 5/8" hole...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
And it looks like a pair of Stens 340-478 blades will do the job...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yesterday, I made the mounting plates for the mower and brush/snowblower attachments, using the existing plate as a template. Had to weld two pieces together to get to the right size, drilled one plate to get the right bolt pattern, tack-welded all the plates together so they couldn't move, then drilled the remaining plates to have matching bolt holes. Test fit them and they fit perfectly.
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Discussion Starter #9
Today, I began paying the price for getting the wrong size tubing for the front wheel mounts, the i.d. is 1/8" off, so I spent the day machining short sleeves for the tubes, welding them into the larger tubes with the wrong I.D., then machining the I.D. of the sleeves to be a tight fit for the caster wheel bushing.

Pictured is the original tubing, cut to length (center), sleeves machined down to a hammer-fit in the tubing (left), and the assembly welded together (right)
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Here is another pic of the original tubing (top), and the almost-finished product (inner sleeve machined to size, with bushing inserted). Need to get some grease nipples to install before welding them together (with a rectangular piece of tubing between them) to form the front axle of the power brush/snowblower attachment frame.

Also began making another pair, to use with the mower deck.
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An ambitious project. I liked your welded mounts, they turned out nice.
Your not the only one who has missed - placed a hole or two, I have to laugh sometimes and ask myself how did I get THAT far off. What's even worse is when you drill them and the bolt pattern fits as it should but it's skewed so the part winds up not fitting squarely. Doh!!
I've found schedule 80 stainless steel pipe gives some more choices if you cannot find the tubing size needed.
You did a great job to make them work.

Don

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Discussion Starter #11
Yeah, I'm not good at measuring/marking/drilling holes accurately. I've done it and after drilling the hole, it was more than 1/2" out of place...

If I want two parts to bolt together in a certain orientation, I need to clamp and drill them in that orientation.... Or at least get the air die grinder warmed up to move the holes a bit.

I think I am using some schedule 80 1" pipe for those sleeves I welded in place. Not sure, as it was some random scrap pipe my dad left me, but it has that pipe finish on the outside.

Today, I dropped off 3 of the wheels for this mower to get them tubed, as they go flat pretty quickly. As part of doing this, I noticed one of the front wheels was missing a spacer bushing (3/4" od/1/2" id, specific length so you can tighten the through bolt onto this spacer, and have the bearings in the rim ride on this bushing. Instead, it was just flopping around on the 1/2" bolt, with some good wear on the bolt. And for the other front wheel, the grease fitting was gone, and the bearings inside were bone dry and rusty as heck. Now I need to figure out how to install a zerk into the wheel, when you can't drill/tap straight on. Maybe grind a hole in it, then braze a small pre-tapped block over the hole, that I can then screw in a fitting.

And then this evening I finished machining the other two tubes for the front wheel spindles.
 

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I recently purchased these for the thread size and welded on a nut.
Link
and they are stainless steel.

Don

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks, these are the small front wheels. I've got a 1/4"/28 angled zerk, and I can make a small threaded mount. I could start with a 1/4" nut, but it'll probably be easier to start off with some rod and then machine it down/drill/tap it to make it less bulky.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Got the zerks for the front wheels done.

Initially, I tried using the existing angled, threaded holes, and bought some longer 1/4-28 zerks to go into them. I got them both installed, installed the new bearings and fitted it onto the fork, then filled it with grease. Naturally, the zerk didn't seal well at it's threads, and after taking it apart and cleaning it out, I realized it was never going to be a good solution. The zerk screwed in too far (I did it so it was relatively tight, but it still leaked through the threads), so I used an air die grinder to get rid of the part sticking out inside (as it interferes with the wheel bearing), and doing that released the spring that holds the ball sealing dirt out of the zerk. This happened to both wheels, so it was a no-go.

So, went back to the original plan
-removed valve from tube (so heating up the tube won't potentially cause it to explode from air heating up and expanding)
-welded up the existing holes,
-machined a 3/8" rod to have a 1/4"-28 thread about an inch long,
-turn down the last 1/8" down to 5/16" (so it would go into the hub that 1/8")
-parted it off the rod, repeated for a second fitting
-installed and tightened the zerk into the fitting and marked the fitting where the zerk pointed (so when it's brazed to the wheel, the zerk will point the right direction)
-used an air die grinder to make the 5/16" hole in the hub
-brazed the fitting to the hub
-used the air die grinder to smooth out the inside of the hub
-installed the zerk to the fitting

Here's the zerk and fitting, ready to install in the hub
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Wheel one brazed in place. Yes, it's been quite some time since I last brazed something. Managed to do these without wrecking the tires or tubes... I'm not 100% sure I got the back side of these fitting sealed up.
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Wheel #2 went better, has better control of heat and where to put it so there's less brazing material put down.
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Here's a shot of the original bearings, neither of which has seen grease in a long long time. One wheel was missing the sleeve, so it was just flopping around and wearing the bolt holding it in place. Also shown is the new bearing/sleeve, which is sized slightly differently, but I just machined out the bearing retainers used on each end of the rim to go around the slightly larger size of the sleeve.
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Nice work on the repair.
I can't imagine running with that bearing dry.
Nice pictures too.

Good job!

Don
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Discussion Starter #16
Ugh, both weren't quite sealed up right, so it was a mess disassembling them (as they were partially filled with fresh grease), then clean and braze a bit more, and reassemble. But afterwards, it works as designed.
 

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The reason why I went with a larger size was there was no way I'd get a 1/4" nut to seal.
The 5/16th nut gave me a more level playing field.
LOL!!
Yeah, cleaning grease off so you could braise wasn't much fun.
I just greased the excavator, the good part is the Dewalt 20 volt grease gun, the bad part is cleaning off the old grease. It has a mind of it's own, no matter how many rags or paper towels your armed with.
Oil Eater is my friend.

Don

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Discussion Starter #18
The diameter of that fitting I made wasn't a problem (it's 3/8"), I'm just glad I didn't make it shorter. I considered making it so the end of the grease fitting would go a little into the hub (it's about 1/8" thick), but decided against it. And as it is, I just barely kept the brazing material from going over the top of the fitting and into it, which would have meant redoing it.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Made some decent progress on the attachment frame. It's upside down from how it installs. The bar with the hole in it is just resting on the frame, it needs to be welded at the right height between the two diagonal pieces, as the jackshaft that reduces the pto rpm to what the Bercomac attachments need mounts to it).
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Tomorrow, it's welding that bar in the right spot, and then moving/modifying the attachment pivot point from the Husqvarna attachment frame to this one (as the pivot stuff is fairly precisely made to be the right diameter and width, which takes awhile to do). It's just easier cut it off the other frame and weld it to this one (and less wasteful, I also did this with that jackshaft mount) at the right height.
 

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Oh boy, welding. :)
It looks nice and sturdy.
It sure beats the little handle I welded up today, but it's all good fun any time you get to melt steel.

Looking forward to seeing how this is all going to fit together.

Don

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