Day 10401

The Case 444 hydraulic project took some research. I measured the fittings I had removed, and lacking a "hydraulic parts store" in NH, I went online and ordered what I thought I needed. It turns out I ordered a bunch of the wrong size fitting... but then I could measure my new wrong fittings, and figure out what sizes I actually needed. I ordered 1/2" fittings, when I really needed 5/16" fittings.

Everything I need to make this happen.

First, a primer on hydraulic fittings for the prospective tractor repairman. There are three main types of fittings; SAE, NPT and JIC. These are all different engineering standards for the threads that connect the fittings.  SAE has typical threads, and a packing to keep fluid in. JIC fittings are flared for a tight seal. NPT fittings have tapered threads that lock together as the parts are tightened. The yellow, top-most fitting in the picture is off of the Case 580 backhoe; it is an SAE male to JIC male. Bottom left is NPT male to JIC male. Bottom right is NPT female to JIC male. All of these fittings need to mate to another fitting of the same standard, or they will leak, or not even fit at all. This took several hours of Googling!

I couldn't find a "new" hydraulic cylinder, so I ordered one that was similar in fully retracted length and stroke. The bore, or surface area of this new cylinder was much smaller, but I did the math and it should still lift half a ton (more than enough on a tractor this size.) The only modification I had to make was to the top link of the piston; it came 1-1/4" wide, and it needed to be cut down to 1-1/8" to fit the attachment on the tractor hitch. I set the piston in the vise, and trimmed it down with the angle grinder a little bit at a time, to keep it from getting so hot that it would melt the internal packings.

With the piston link cut down, the new piston could be installed. The holes in the piston are 3/4", and the pins on the tractor are 1/2". I ordered bushings off of a Jeep website to make up the difference.

I plumbed the connections...

... changed the oil (running "Rotella" 15W-40 in both the engine and the hydraulics) ...

... and attached the back drag blade. The new piston lifts it just fine!

The new hydraulic lines at the spool, under the driver's seat.

 With the tractor running, and implements reattached and operational, the 444 is now ready for delivery to the North Country. My dad still has the trailer up north... how am I going to get the 444 into the 150?

With the 580, of course.

I backed the F150 under the hanging tractor. I've said it before; the backhoe is a crappy crane, a poor excuse for a bulldozer, an awkward loader, and a crummy excavator. It does everything!

In the North Country, my dad helped guide me down a set of ramps on a hill to get out of the truck. I went to town mowing the wet, heavy grass, which is nearly 6' high in spots. 

I cleared an LZ for the bus. Writing this weeks later, it has helped significantly with the amount of ticks I'm pulling off myself and Zeke.

While mowing, I found some thick ferrous cableus root, which took a few minutes to untangle from the blades.

Putting along the field in the tractor, I explored parts of the property that were somewhat inaccessible with the height and thickness of the grasses in the savannah. I found another, relatively new, deer stand.

On foot, with water and rifle, and a dozen deer flies, I trekked the quarter mile in on the wooded side to the edge of the property line. An abandoned old road marks the limit of my property. Along the way I found many nice birches and maples, and a few white pines. This birch is growing up from the turned over roots of a wind-blown tree. I saw two deer. No moose, despite lots of evidence in the Spring-time, and no bear (hence the rifle.)

Back down South, I called a buddy from the unit to see if he could move the 580 North to the property. He couldn't, because his trailer wasn't big enough, but he said "hang on, let me call a friend." That friend called a friend. The town of Deerfield came together, answered the call, and Dan hauled my 580 up North. Thanks for the help, Dan!

I'm sure my neighbors were perplexed by that guy that had been clearing felled trees on the roadside a few weeks ago driving by in his truck... then peddling by on a mountain bike... then chugging along at 8:30AM in a five ton yellow dinosaur without a muffler, with a bike sitting in the bucket...

The 580 at it's new home.

I put it to work immediately, slicing drainage into the mucky driveway.

Then I went into the field, and picked what ought to be a good location for an outhouse, and dug a pit. The rich black soil was about 9" deep here.

I made a rookie move. I never put the breather plug back in after servicing the hydraulics. I heard a "tink-tink!" of the plug falling off shortly after, working in the muddy driveway, but didn't connect the dots at the time. After some searching, I'm writing it off. I fashioned this new plug out of a Maple branch.

With the 580 up North, I now have a lot more muscle for moving trees and dirt. I can also pull a bus through a muddy driveway...

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