Pix when I can get them. Ol’ Eminence Grease finally got opened up in my friend’s shop. Hoo, boy. 🙁
This is one seriously abused tractor. First we drained the oil, then dropped the pan. In the pan were several chunks of piston, along with the crankshaft endplay shims which had fallen out. We took off the connecting rod caps, pulled the head and pushed the pistons up the cylinders. TWO broken pistons, though #1 is the worst. #3 is missing a piece of land between two ring grooves.
Took the head in to Valley Speed to be rebuilt — Rob Munro is a great guy to deal with! Rob told me I needed new valves, seats, seals, springs and guides. I sourced all except the seats from Rick at Central Equipment, who was most patient about finding parts. Another great guy! I won’t see the parts until they’re in the head, so I’ll post pictures of that when it gets done.
While I was at it, I took the radiator and gas tank to Rapid Radiator, and the alternator and starter to AlterStartAir. The starter is toast but the alternator is all tickety-boo now. The radiator is freshly cleaned and painted, and so is the gas tank. The poor guy at Rapid put a handful of old screws into the tank to break up the internal rust, and they got lost behind the tank baffles. That necessitated a pair of holes cut in the tank to get them back out, followed by a couple of tasteful patches soldered on. Looks like a good job. I could wish it hadn’t worked out that way, but they were really good about it and I left there feeling like all due care had been taken.
I had been told that all TEA-20s came off the line with 12V electrics. So says the book I have. Then I got corrected after a little argument with Pete at Greenway. I have to admit that when a guy tells me “I know this better than you do because I cut my teeth on these tractors” that I really want to prove them wrong. So I kinda got my back up when he said that. HOWEVER…I pulled the starter and cross-referenced the part number cast into the nose and it is a 6V starter.
As I tell my wife in such situations, “I was less right than I usually am.” Now I gotta go get him a six-pack of Bud and drop it off with him by way of an apology. It’s a good excuse to work on my humility.
I recommend any of the shops I’ve dealt with so far.
My hardcore mechanic friend has developed a theory about what happened to this engine. It looks like somebody did a rebuild on it not too long ago, because the cylinder sleeves are in wonderful condition. However, whoever did the work did a really crappy job: Grade 5 instead of Grade 8 bolts used on a couple of the rod caps; Guide rings never installed on the pistons; Crankshaft shims poorly installed. Things were whacking around in there, which put extra stress on things. Then the tractor got run out of oil and overheated and things really went off the rails. Neither my friend or I can figure out WHY somebody blew up a fresh rebuild — the previous owner is widely known to be a pretty careful guy.
At this point, most people would strip what looked good and sell it on eBay, then send the rest of the tractor to the boneyard. I can’t do that. This thing’s in my blood now, and I have to make a runner out of it. It won’t be a 100-point concours resto, but it’ll be a good hard-worker that I can depend on.