Saturday, September 21, 2013

John Deere "Gator" Georgia to Minnesota- the Gator delivery service! Part I....

I made an impulsive buy last October....... long story as usual!

I was doing some engine work on a push boat, one that pushes a big barge hauling material and equipment up and down the coast in the coastal Georgia and South Carolina area. Ooops, not supposed to talk about work... in any case, they barge stuff over to this island that has a resort and golf course on it..stay with me now! Some of that stuff is golf course equipment.  

The barge yard has this beat up John Deere utility vehicle. In conversation with the captain of the tug, he mentioned he got the Gator from the guy that services the golf course account for the Deere turf dealer. The machines get pretty rusted out from the salt air and sand on the beach. The dealer sells them new Gators every five years or so, and get the old ones on trade, and sell them cheap. 

I mentioned to cap't Chuck that I wanted one if they had one. A few days later the JD guy has two on a trailer, 800 bucks each. Now, I checked and at that time (October 2012) a 2008 Turf TX Gator went for about 3500-4500 bucks, without rust.... Needless to say, for 800 bills I came up with cash and bought the thing.

Powered by a 16 horse Kawasaki four stroke gas engine under the bed, it's very quiet and reliable.  It's no Polaris Razor as it has a top speed of about 20 mph, but it's very good for a work vehicle as it is intended.

The main reasoning for my purchase was my dad could sure use this thing on the family "40" in Minnesota for firewood gathering and maple sap hauling and just general getting about the place.

First, I had some rust repairs to do. The unit body was very rusted on the bottom, so I welded in a brace from  some scrap material I have, to some solid metal above the "rust line"

I used some 1/8" plate I had from a trailer repair project, stitch welded to the outside of the unit body to avoid burn thru, even though I ground the paint off to bare metal I could not tell how thick it was. I welded a piece of 1x2" box tubing between the plate as you can see in the top pic.

 I also had to patch up under the battery, it sure reminded me of all the old VW's I had, all rusty in the floorboards!

As you can see, it was pretty rusted away. I found tons of fine sand packed in the tub of this thing even after I pressure washed it. That sand is salt laden from it's proximity to the beach.  I got it out as best as I could, then using some tin and rivets got a fresh floor under the battery box. I put a new NAPA battery in as well, the original John Deere battery was on it's way out.  

I replaced the near worn to the metal rear disc brake pads, thus making the parking brake work again. This machine uses a belt drive torque converter system like a snowmobile so when parked on a slope, you can't just leave it in gear and have it stay put.

I ran it around the neighborhood a bit, probably put a few hours on the meter (was 1495 or something) to make sure all ran well.

Part II will be the trip to Minnesota- coming when I am not too lazy and tired to post it up!