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Re: (ET) How good and fast at cutting
Electronic control. Not necessary. The GE 8 and 10 have just a constant
speed motor connected through a belt idler tye clutch to the tranny. The
motor (and deck) shut off when the brake is depressed all the way. Ths
is done with a simple 'sealing contact' wiring of the main contactor,
which is DPST.
The GE 12,15, 16, and 20 use for the first 3 electrical speeds,
armature series resistors (huge nichrome dropping resistors) which are
shorted out of the armature circuit by contactors. The rest of the
speeds, once the armature is getting full batt voltage, are done by
adding 'field weakening resistors' in series with the field.
Some have converted the 15 and 20 models to a controller called
'electrax' built for the purpose. It is built for the 15 and 20 field
type motors and is programmable. People who got Alltrax are happy with
it. It is not necessary on the 16, which has simpler and more reliable
circuits or the 12 which has a PM motor and 3 electrical speeds
(armature drop type) plus the mechanical tranny speeds as others have,
which are sufficient for any use I have ever put a tractor to.
My advice is to find a GE, Wheelhorse, or New Idea electric
(essentially the same tractor) and rebuild her. Reason; These
Etractors are esentially big strong battery boxes on wheels that as a
primary purpose, carry the batteries without any complaints or chassis
weakness. Then, the battery boxes were made by GE etc to look and
function as a tractor. The primary market for these were golf courses
and estates so they are built strong and long lasting, not like the
thousand dollar plus (or more if they are green and yellow or big name)
gas guzzling yearly maintenence prone tin toys that are marketed to
There is no reason to reinvent the wheel here because there are
literally hundreds of rebuildable GE, Wheelhorse, and New Idea tractors
out there all over the country and Canada just waiting to have someone
adopt them, rebuild them, and put them to work. Even got a couple myself
I haven't the time to rebuild (or the need, already got 2 good ones).
Parts are available in PA by mail or sometimes through another Etrac
owner with spares - you have seen this on the board. We (this board)
have a sense of ' community'. We want to see more of these machines out
there and have communal help available for the rebuilders (again, as you
have seen) on any problem a guy could have with restoring one of these
'still futuristic' machines of the past.
Check the thread of this board. You will likely find a decent restorable
machine with mower deck within a couple hundred miles of you. Just ask.
Advice again. Simpler is better. You need a bigframe type for an acre
- and all of the bigframes have the power for other duties too, and even
if without a front winch (like a 12M for example) can easily adapt for a
snowblower and / or plow. All bigframes will tow a fullsize (4x8 or so)
yard trailer if a 1 7/8 ball is just dropped into their tow bracket and
Wishing you fortune in your quest for environmental sanity (and fun as
well) in grounds maintenence..
On Sun, 29 Oct 2006 03:21:23 -0800 (PST) Jim Fitzgerald
<jfitzlaw yahoo com> writes:
> Thanks for your informative reply. I will coninue my quest to
> learn more about them and to buy/build some sort of any electric
> tractor. For a number of reasons I want to get a way from the gas
> I've read some people have put new control systems in their
> machines. Have you done this with any of the ones you have?
> David C Robie <mycroftxx1 juno com> wrote:
> These Etractors, among other things, were built to cut grass. They
> do it as fast as any gas tractor of similar size, at the same speed.
> However, unlike gas tractors, there are no cutting deck belts to
> slip so
> there is less likelihood of having to go back over an area because
> blades slow down or stop. I have been mowing bout 3/4 acre for a bit
> over 6 yrs with my GE 16 and am entirely satisfied with it. Same
> has a snowblower attchment. Ditto. My other Etractor is a Wheelhorse
> (same s a GE 12) and has a snow and light grading plow and am
> satisfied with it too.
> Have much experience with gas tractors on this same yard, and for
> snow plowing. You always wonder if a gas tractor will start. I have
> always felt lucky when it did, especially in winter. No need for that
> questioning thought with an electric. Or the nagging negativism of
> keeping a gas vehicle with a gravity gasoline feed in the heated
> through the winter so she *would* start for snowplowing.
> Noise is much less. And there is no vibration or constant drone of
> exhaust noise. An onerous job, that of mowing ther lawn, has actually
> become fun rather than an expensive smelly proposition. And these
> tractors can run on home made alternative energy. Batteries in both
> mine are charged by solar panels, and are always ready to go to work
> towing, mowing, or blowing. Even if the spare 5 gallon gas can is
> (I buy bout a gallon of gas a yr for the weedwacker and chain saw,
> weedwacking and chainsawing is also electric here).
> You asked about speed. The lawn here gets finished faster than it
> did with any of the gas ones I used to have and because the deck is
> front rather than underneath, there is much less weedwacking to do.
> Gearing, of course, is 'as required' by the lawn in question. My
> lawn is
> different than yours, got a lot of hills and 'in and back out' work
> to do
> (this is New England) so I cann't answer your 'acre' question.
> However, the only time I ever get into highest ground speed gear is
> I decide to go down to the store on the sidewalk with her to pick up
> bread or milk or something. And with the bigframe electrics like
> ground speed is not chosen by gear alone, the motor speed is variable
> also. So there is an almost infinite range of ground speed. Wih a gas
> tractor, slowing the motor means slowing the belt driven deck too
> and the
> mowing becomes lousy. With electrics, the deck motors are separate
> motors, always run the same speed regardless of ground speed. So you
> mow at any ground speed you like that the lawn likes also.
> All of the tractors you see on this board were built in response to
> 70's energy crunch so every one of em is about 30 yrs old. Have you
> heard of a gas tractor that's been on the job for that long? When the
> motors on em need replacement, other parts are worn out too and the
> entire machine tired and likely starting to rot underneath. They go
> the trash. Our electrics, even though they may have been retired
> ago and stored outside, are built well enough so that this does not
> happen. If we who know them find one rotting in a field somewhere, we
> know that the chances are that she can be made to perform (and even
> like new again. It has been estimated that over half those that were
> built are still in service - and another percentage in the hands of
> someone who is on the way to putting one back into service. We have
> confidence in these machines and it has been proven worth the effort
> do it.
> Have been on this board for quite a while and have never run across a
> person on it who wants to go back to gas tractor mowing.
> Weymouth MA
> On Sat, 28 Oct 2006 17:12:22 -0700 (PDT) Jim Fitzgerald
> > How are these electric tractors at cutting grass? Can you cut in
> > fastest gear?
> > About how long would it take to cut an acre of grass?
> > Thanks for any help with these questions.
> > Jim