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Re: (ET) E12 - a resurrection (long)
- Subject: Re: (ET) E12 - a resurrection (long)
- From: "Max Hall" <maxo iname com>
- Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 19:51:06 -0500
- Sender: owner-elec-trak cosmos5 phy tufts edu
Jeez, Darryl, it's a great story about you tractor and most of all, your
health. Congratulations on both!
PS. Electric drive. What a feeling.
-maxo iname com
-Plywood Guy, Scooters, and what-all: http://www.maxmatic.com
From: darrylmcmahon igs net <darrylmcmahon igs net>
To: electrak list <elec-trak cosmos5 phy tufts edu>
Date: Sunday, November 07, 1999 7:17 PM
Subject: (ET) E12 - a resurrection (long)
>My Elec-Trak E12 is sitting in my garage charging as I write this.
>Therein lies a story. I hope you will not object to the bandwidth
>used to tell it, as this tractor is in large part the reason this mailing
>Almost two years ago, I was taking a copy of our local weekly
>bargain-hunter newspaper to the recycle bin, when one of the
>classifieds caught my eye. A GE lawn tractor for sale. What the
>heck would that be, I wondered. Being an electric car owner, I had
>to know if there could possibly be an electric lawn tractor, as the
>ad had not said how the unit was powered. I called the guy who
>had placed the ad. Sure enough, it was electric-powered. It was
>not running, and price seemed steep, but I had to see this thing.
>So, in a December blizzard in 1997, I headed out one evening on a
>(gas-powered) trip in my wife's car into the country-side with my 8-
>year old son. It took over an hour to find the house, on a trip that
>should have taken no more than 30 minutes in good weather.
>We got to have a look at the tractor, and the attachments that
>came with it. These included a 'dozer blade, a single-stage
>snowblower, a 3-blade mower, a rototiller, a rear power-lift, a hand-
>held hedge trimmer and cultivator, and chains for the rear tires.
>With this collection the price seemed more reasonable.
>He told me the tractor had been OK until the previous April, when
>he had been using it to plow up sheets of ice. Then it just quit. He
>had tried a few simple things, but the problem was beyond him.
>Batteries were in it, and they looked OK. The owner supplied a volt-
>meter, and all six read OK. He had been charging them in pairs,
>as the main charger was not working. The front-lift was non-op, as
>were the lights. I already knew the drive was inoperative. Still, the
>unit looked pretty good, like it had seen some reasonable care,
>and this was the original owner who had 24 years of records to go
>with the unit, including all the relevant operating manuals, and a
>service manual. Who was I kidding? I was hooked. We made
>arrangements for payment, including delivery, and I left a deposit.
>On January 4, 1998, the tractor and accessories arrived at my
>house, and I watched as it was unloaded into my garage. I was
>not much help, as I had reached the point where I had trouble
>keeping my balance. Over the next month, I pored over the
>manuals, and took inventory, and started searching the Internet for
>help. There was nothing. So I set up a web page to see if anyone
>else was searching for, or had, Elec-Trak information.
>My health continued to deteriorate. By mid-February, I could no
>longer walk without assistance, in addition to other symptoms too
>numerous to go into that had begun some 3 years earlier. The
>tractor was ignored for some time. In early March I was admitted
>for surgery on an urgent basis - an MRI had revealed a tumor inside
>my spine. The surgery went well, the tumor was benign, and the
>spinal cord was not damaged, and started to improve almost
>immediately. Due to the amount of bone removed from one of the
>vertebrae, I was not to do any heavy work for a period of six
>months. I did manage to organize the first local Electrathon during
>this recovery period. It was the fall of 1998 before the tractor even
>resurfaced in my thoughts. However, the web-site had attracted a
>few e-mails. I made a few acquaintances, and found Bill Gunn at
>Technical Services and Parts. I built up a personal mailing list of
>Elec-Trak owners I had found on the Electric Vehicle Discussion
>List and those that had visited my website and left e-mail. This list
>included Ken Olum, who volunteered to set up the current Elec-
>Trak mailing list.
>Over the winter of 98-99 I determined there were some defective
>parts, notably the circuit breaker on the back side of the dash and
>the main power disconnect, but the motor worked, if wired up
>directly to power, but the control circuitry had real problems. I got
>replacements for those, and installed them. Still, things were not
>right. There was an elusive short circuit. I would follow
>schematics, and voltages were not right, or light-shows ensued.
>It took time and burned fuses and jumper cables, but I finally
>determined that one of the main solenoids was welded. Then, I
>found one of the reed switches (2RTN) did not pull in. I discovered
>a few of the lighter gauge wires were attached in ways other than
>suggested by the schematics. It took time to look over each wire,
>trace it, compare it to the schematics and decide what to do with
>it. Then it was one of the power wires that takes power to one of
>the resistors was not conducting. Then I found one of the wires
>that jumpers between solenoids was connected to one incorrect
>solenoid. This also corrected the problem with the fuel gauge, and
>eliminated the short that had been appearing at the power gauge.
>I began to wonder if I would ever get all the little bits right. Days
>were spent determining that a start switch shown in the service
>manual did not exist on my tractor, it was replaced by a simple
>jumper cable in one of the connectors.
>Finally, last weekend, October 31, to be precise, it ran under its
>own power - 3 electrical speeds forward and 2 reverse.
>Fortunately, I was not going fast, as I discovered the brakes did not
>work either. Still, I cannot describe in words the sense of delight
>and relief I felt at that moment.
>This weekend, I adjusted the brake, and it functions. I still have to
>adjust the brake switch, as it does not cut the power. The pawl is
>adjusted as high as it will go, and I need to find out if the brake
>switch has been defeated like the seat switch is. (Actually, one of
>the tabs on the seat switch was broken off, which may be why that
>switch was bypassed.)
>Then, I took it for a short drive - my first. Just out of the garage and
>around the side to pick up the snowblower. Got that attached, and
>discovered I am missing some small bits in the process (pins to
>secure the blower to the bar between the front wheels, and a roller
>for the front lift belt. Then back to the garage.
>This project is not yet complete. This week I will start looking for
>parts to control the lifting of the blower properly instead of the bolts
>that are temporarily serving that purpose, and test out the blower to
>see if it works, then sand, paint and wax it so it will be as slippery
>as possible for the snow going through the chute. I also expect the
>bits I need to repair the 2RTN relay should arrive this week. There
>are a couple of other jury-rigged items that I will repair properly over
>I want to thank the members of this list for their assistance over the
>past months, and particularly Rob Vasichek and Neil Dennis who
>have provided both parts and encouragement to help me reach this
>point. I am looking forward to gaining first-hand experience with
>this machine, and hope I can sell my gasoline-powered snowblower
>in the near future - my last fossil-fueled appliance.