HydraulicArmQuite some time ago, we bent the hydraulic power steering shaft on the tractor- a New Holland TC30. I’m not sure how or when. But, it compromised the seal, so the thing has been leaking power steering fluid like crazy. We’ve been procrastinating on fixing it (we never want to stop using the tractor!), and were just topping off the fluid all the time.

But, I couldn’t ignore it any longer, knowing how much use the tractor will get during the summer. The shaft was not covered under warranty (though I think it should be because it’s a crummy design), and was over $500 with tax. Ouch! You can see the old and new shafts in the picture on the left.

Fortunately, it was fairly straightforward to replace- just two bolts held it in there, and we had to detach the hydraulic hoses in two places to get it out of there. One thing I learned is that a tractor is not like a car: I would have assumed that when the power steering is “out” it would revert to manual steering, so you could still operate it, albeit with difficulty.

Not so: on this tractor, if the hydraulic power steering has lost pressure, the steering is completely out, you can turn the wheel infinitely like a digital stereo dial, and nothing happens. This is good to know, because if you blow a hose in an inconvenient place, you’re going to have to repair the tractor right where it sits. Which is what happened five minutes later! 

When I had put the power steering arm back together, I noticed another crummy design: the hoses run right past the fan belt pulley, which has no cage around it. The hoses had a little plastic clamp to hold them together and out of the way, but I was suspicious of how well it was going to work, it was kind of a weeny little part.

PowerSteeringLinkage

And well I should have been. Delighted to have the tractor back after a week of it being down waiting for the part, Kirk fired it right up, drove for five minutes, and kablouey, steering went out, fluid everywhere. The little clamp had already sprung off the hoses (and was nowhere to be found) and the fan belt had worn a quick hole in one of the hoses. Nice!

The tractor was in the pasture, in the mud and a bunch of ruts, with the wheels cocked at an odd angle. So thus was where we had to repair it, with these hoses being in a hard-to-reach spot too. <groan> This was a Sunday, to boot, but thankfully, Napa has a short window of open time, and they were able to make us a new hose of the same dimensions. This time, Kirk strapped the hoses down to the frame with two huge zip ties- so that’s not going to happen again!

ZipTies

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