A well-connected place

For a cabin in the woods, this place is pretty well connected.  Fiber internet works very well, and I have the fastest connection speeds I’ve ever had.  Service has been very reliable.

The HVAC guys finally got the phone app to connect to both HVAC units, and now I can control the heat/AC from my phone.  This will be very useful when I go out of town.  No need to keep the place cooled or heated when I’m not there, saving electricity.  Then when I’m on the way back I can set the temperature back to the normal values and when I get home it will be comfortable.

My garage door opener is also connected to wifi, and I can monitor the door’s position (open or closed) from a phone app.  I can also open or close the door from the phone app as well.  If something is blocking the door it won’t close, but I’ll know that and I can have someone stop by and clear the obstruction.  The important part is that I’ll know what’s going on with the door.

There are a couple of single-pole switches that control outside floodlights and I’m considering replacing those switches with wifi switches so that I can turn the lights on from my phone.  Not sure what brand to use, would be nice to find ones that I can control from a bash script.  That would allow me to set a schedule for the lights to be on and off, and still allow me to turn them on at any time from my phone via a simple web page.

I’m not sure what else I might link up, but I’m pretty satisfied with the way things are working now.  Coupled with the video security system, this place is humming along quite nicely now.

A few little add-ons

I’ve added a few things to the tractor to make it easier to use.  They’re not expensive, but they work well.

The first was to replace the small plastic toolbox with a larger one.  I picked up a surplus .50 caliber ammo box, and bolted it in the same place as the Kubota toolbox.  This one is larger, sealed at the lid, and holds the tools (pliers, adjustable wrenches, screwdrivers, etc) that are useful when using implements.  I added a small 3 pound hammer for convincing tight pins to go in or come out, as needed.  A few shop towels for wiping things clean, such as before using the grease gun on zerk fittings.  Also handy for wiping your hands after greasing.  It also hold extra pins and linchpins, and shear bolts for the bush hog PTO shaft.

The second was a short length of chain to hold the lower 3 point hitch lift arms in so they don’t swing outwards and hit the rear tires.  When not needed (while an implement is on the 3 point hitch) it clips up and out of the way.

I put a 2″ ball on the drawbar so that I can move trailers around with the tractor.  The 20′ flatbed trailer is heavy and not easily moved around but the tractor makes quick work of that.  In the future, I might drill a hole through the bucket so that a trailer ball can be installed for positioning trailers.  A nice feature of using the bucket is that you don’t need to move the tongue jack to set the trailer on the drawbar hitch, just drive under the hitch and lift.  The flatbed trailer uses a 2 5/16″ ball, but a 2″ ball fits all of my trailers and is fine for moving them around.

I’m considering adding a scabbard to carry a chain saw to the tractor so that it’s with me and I won’t need to make a trip back to the cabin to pick it up.  Especially handy when you’re out clearing brush and downed trees.  There are several types available, one that clamps around the loader post, and another that clamps onto the ROPS bar.  I haven’t decided which one yet, but it will be one of those two designs.  Either is better than just putting the chain saw into the loader bucket.  It’s too easy to forget it’s there and either load dirt or gravel on top of it, or accidentally dump it out and lose it or worse, run over it.  Neither of those are good for the saw.

I might add some LED work lighting to the back of the tractor, probably mounted on the ROPS bar.  That would help when unhitching an implement or working at dusk.  Sometimes you just want to finish up a job and you wind up needing another half hour or so after the sun goes down.

Maintenance items

If you recall, I added Pat’s Easy Change hitches to the lower lift arms on the 3 point hitch.  Without a doubt they make it quicker and easier to hitch and unhitch an implement.  But there is a potential issue that you should consider.

The Pat’s hitches move the attachment point about 4″ further from the tractor, so the amount you can lift goes down a bit.  It probably won’t be an issue for most of us, but for those that are wringing every bit of performance out of their tractor it could cause a problem.  Secondly, due to the 4″ extension to the left arms, the top link may now be too short to properly angle the implement.  Even if the top link is actually long enough, you may not have enough threads engaged in the body.  This will weaken the top link and could cause it to pull through.  My original top link body was 13 1/2″ long, so I decided to pick up a new, longer top link.  The body on the new one is 16″ long.  Not the full 4″ that the Pat’s hitches added to the lift arms, but is definitely longer and will have more threads engaged.

Going over the bush hog more carefully, several items need attention.  The original blades are in rough shape, mostly from striking objects while mowing.  The blades pivot when they strike an uncuttable object to prevent damage to the PTO shaft and gearbox, but the cutting edge takes the brunt of the strike.  They can be ground back to a serviceable cutting edge, but I chose to replace the blades.  They’re not overly expensive, and If I’m careful they will last a long time.  I borrowed a 3/4″ impact wrench from my cousin and that made quick work of replacing the blades.

The tailwheel yoke axle and spindle need greasing.  I removed the tailwheel yoke and checked it over.  The spindle is bent to the side a little, but the bigger worry is that the top part has worn down to 1 1/8″ from 1 1/4″.  I also decided to replace the yoke.  The wheel, hub, and axle are fine, just need a little cleanup and some fresh grease.

Once these items are finished, the bush hog will be ready to go for a long time, and periodic regreasing will keep it running smoothly.