I'm writing this via Google Groups because Time Warner Cable decided
we no longer need Newsgroups. What a pain.
I was on here a little while back asking about getting a new belt for
my Pony model. The belt from NAPA down the street worked just fine.
I bought this tiller used 15 or more years ago. The gear oil always
looked good. I check it every year and top it off when it needs it. I
only use it probably less than 2 hours a year on the average. When I
check the oil, I tip it so a little spills out the hole. It generally
looks clean and new. I think I have only ever done a complete change
I used it a few weeks ago and checked the oil level before I put it
away until fall. The oil didn't look clean this time. It didn't look
right at all! I drained all the oil into a pan. I could best describe
it as looking just like mud. A light tan mud. Even though it has never
leaked any oil in storage, I have to think that soil got past a seal
and contaminated the oil.
One thing was different this year. During the off season I bought a
"hiller- furrower" attachment. I used it that last day to make a
raised row. The soil was a little too wet for it and the attachment
pushed a lot of soil up under the cover above the tines. I bought some
new oil but I'm going to see what you all have to say before I refill
the gear box.
As far as seals go, the only mention in the owner's manual is that oil
will leak out if one fails. Follow me on this... the tines are on a
shaft. That shaft passes through a housing which must contain gears.
Even though those gears are pretty far from the gear box with the oil,
I assume that area is lubricated with the same oil. Would the seals
near the tines be up high enough that oil does not leak out even
though dirt can get in?
Steve (In the Adirondacks of northern NY)
Might be time to look for a local small engine repair guy in your area.
I live in the boondocks and 2 miles away a small engine guy does lots of
good stuff. Mowers, chain saws , tillers and sometimes just about
anything that uses oil and gas.
Yeah, I was tempted to say (in my original post) that I have seen
water contamination in the lower unit of outboard motors and it was
always more milky white, not so brown. Still, that's the first thing I
thought of when I saw that oil.
I have always hosed the tiller completely clean after each use. This
is the first time the oil looked bad. It seems to come back to a bad
Maybe I'll talk to the local repair guy. If I get no advice or
encouragement there, maybe I'll just fill it with the new oil and hope
for the best. (I would be watching for leaks and checking the oil
quality after each use.)
If you're checking the gear oil level by tipping right after toppping
off of course new oil will drip out the oil level hole, it's the same
oil you just added that's sitting atop the old oil, gear oil is very
thick, it was never given a chance to mix with the old oil... you're
supposed to check the oil again when warm, after running the unit
awhile. You probably never drained the old oil completely, so the
gear box is loaded with settled sludge (you bought that machine more
then 15 years ago, *used* you have no idea how long it's been since
that gear box was properly serviced). The sludge will settle each
time the unit sits for awhile... this time you checked it right after
running it with your new attachment, no doubt it would look muddy.
There is no way garden soil got into that gear box if gear oil didn't
run out. I suggest you fully drain that gear oil and wash the box
clean with a solvant, kerosene will work well, go a few changes
sloshing it as best you can until it pours clean. Then fully drain
the kero and fill with fresh gear lube of the correct type... keep
track of the volume and check it against the specs if you have the
manual just to be sure it's filled with the correct amount... if it
doesn't take the full amount then there is compacted sludge at the
bottom of that box and it needs to be disasssembled for a through
cleaning. Then run the unit a while, not just the motor, engage the
gears, but not in dirt so you can check for leaks... if it's not
leaking then no dirt got in. And now check the gear oil while still
warm, it should be clean and the gear box full. Again, make sure
you're using the correct gear oil or it could burn and look muddy...
probably what happened under the heavy load of your new hiller-
furrower attachment, especially pressing on with that mucky soil.
Also, when using a tiller make sure the gear box is clear of dirt
(inspect it periodically and hose it off if need be), it needs to be
exposed to air to cool... typically farm equipment gear boxes will
have cooling fins, they're there for a reason, if they become impacted
with chaff and mud the unit will probably fail, become seriously
damaged, or at the very least wear out prematurely. You may want to
disassemble that gear box completely so you can visually check that
the gears are not damaged... if the mating surfaces are galled you
need to replace those gears before they chew themselves up and seize,
and you then will probably need to junk the machine. With farm
machinery, since they're used in hard service dirty conditions it's
important to visually inspect the entire machine before and after
every use, check for frayed belts, missing fasteners, and especially
lube levels... never spare lubrication, the grease gun is your friend.
Sheldon, some of your advice is helpful. I think the idea of rinsing the
gear box with kerosene is good. I haven't refilled it with oil yet
because I was figuring I should clean it out somehow.
Your comment about tipping to check the level right after I fill it
makes no sense. I just fill it until some runs out the hole and I know
it's full enough. No reason to tip it. I only tip it before I put it
away (still warm) to make sure the level is right there. If I have to
tip it very far, I add some more. Trust me, the oil that poured out this
time looked nothing like what it ever did before and I always check it
soon after I run the machine.
Agreed that no soil got in unless oil leaks out but... I still wonder if
the seals right at the tines are so high that no oil would leak out in
storage and if it leaked in use, I would never see it. The other (more
likely)possibility is that the seal just went bad for the first time
during this last use. I do wonder if oil will start leaking somewhere as
soon as I fill it to capacity. If not, I'll put something under the
wheels so I can let it sit with the rear end lower and see what happens
I doubt the oil was burned due to heavier use with the hiller- furrower.
I only used it about 5 minutes the first time, in perfect soil. Then I
only made 2 more short furrows the other time in the wet soil. Three or
Also, I always hose it off completely after each use and put it away
spotless clean, no exceptions.
Thanks for taking the time to write out that detailed answer. I
Steve in the Adirondacks
PS I haven't been back here in several days because, as I said in my
original post, Time Warner decided nobody needes newsgroups, using
Google groups is a pain, and it took a while to decide what to do.
Motzarella.org works pretty well.
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