Troy Bilt problem

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.
New problem. 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 once. 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)
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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.
Bill
--
Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA

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wrote:

Water contamination of oil will turn it a tan color.
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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 seal somewhere. 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.)
Steve
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We have such a guy here in town. I'm not sure I trust him.
Steve
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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.
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Sheldon wrote:

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 then. 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 4 minutes. 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 appreciate it.
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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