A bad weekend for mechanical work

Last Saturday (the 12th) I changed the drive chain on my motorcycle. It was unevenly worn and it was impossible to adjust the tension without having the chain too tight in part of its circuit and too loose at others. Of course, the chain is about 27 years and 32,000km old, so it doesn’t owe me anything. As far as I know it is the original from when I bought the bike new in 1988. Obviously, I don’t ride much.

This was my first time at using a chain breaker, both to remove the old chain, and to adjust the replacement to the correct number of links. That went without any hitches.

Assembling the master link was, however, a bit of a challenge. The chain has O-rings on each link to keep dirt out and lubricant in, and to put the clip onto the master link, these O-rings had to be compressed enough. There are special tools to do this but I didn’t have one. I eventually found a tip on the Internet, to place one of the side plates removed from the old chain over the pins of the master link and squeeze with a clamp. The extra plate allows the clamp to press on the master link’s side plate rather than its pins. That got the link closed properly, and after getting the tension adjusted on the new chain, I found that all the bending over and peering sideways had throw out my lower back. I spent the rest of the day (and much of today as well) sitting, standing, and walking very carefully.

Once my back is better I’ll take the bike out for a spin and re-check the chain tension.

Then on Sunday I mowed most of my lawn, but just as I was getting close to done the belt that drives the mower dropped off its pulley. Fortunately only a small out-of-sight section of the lawn remained uncut. Once all the belts and pulleys had cooled off I found that the bearings on the main drive sheave of the mower were completely shot. The shaft was so loose that there was little belt tension and the pulley was way out of line with the belt. I already knew that the blade spindles had too much play in them but with this bearing gone as well it might be worth getting a new lawn tractor. If only the bearings themselves need replacement, it would cost be about $100 in parts to fix, but if other parts such as the shafts and pulleys are worn, it would cost a lot more. I might be saved by a Kijiji ad for the same model of tractor (John Deere 185)  for sale. The pictures make it look like it is in better condition than mine, but it remains to be seen what condition the mower deck is in.

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