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Repair of a 966 in the far North


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This is my first post in any forum ever. So bear with me, I'm old and tend to ramble. I post here to ask the community for their advice and recommendations. I have a F 966 #2510175U009030, built I believe in 1971. This ole girl is located at a hunting, fishing lodge on the shores of Big Sand Lake in northern Manitoba Canada. The tractor was purchased new and driven up on a winter road that no longer exists. We are a fly in lodge with our own unimproved runway. Everything we get must be flown up to us at great expense.

This machine has been used hard by many different people every summer of its life. Some of these operators were not as qualified as others and now she is showing the injuries of this hard life. Even with the hard use this tractor runs like it did in 71. Purrs like a kitten. I wish every engine I have ever had held up like this one.

Now for the bad stuff and why I need advice. As the years passed by the transmissions have received the majority of the abuse. From the shifting linkages on the column to the internal components of both sections. We are down to one forward and one reverse gear range that can only be selected when the engine is not running. Example put the tractor in forward using a old oar handle to move the linkage at the base of the column, start the engine, let out on the clutch and head on down the road, push the clutch in, stop the tractor , turn off the engine, use the oar handle to select reverse, start the engine, let out the clutch and back up.

When the engine is running, even with the clutch fully depressed the gears continue to spin and shifting is impossible. Last summer I replaced the transmission brake and installed the modified linkage. Adjusted the new linkage to provide the greatest amount of pressure to stop the spinning gears and this made no improvement. When I removed the access cover that holds the trans brake I found the remains of the torque assist clutches which explained why the torque assist has not work for many years.

If this tractor was at my home in Tennessee I would not hesitate to split the sections and dive in. I could re-manufacture the shifting linkages. New arms, bushings. I have a tractor grave yard just up the road for spare parts. However, where it is located we have no heavy lifting equipment, no holding jigs to support the sections,  no machine shop.

What would the community do? Try to fix her up or retire her with gratefulness for a long service. Keep it in mind that to replace her we have to buy a replacement, wait until winter when the lakes are frozen, cut a winter road through the bush about 150 miles long to get the replacement on site. Or Fly in the parts, jigs, special tools, expertise on a Basler aircraft which has a cargo capacity of about 18,000 lbs. and costs about $7000 one way. 

We cannot live without a workhorse like this tractor. Runway maintenance is not the only job we require of her. There are many, many others.

Thank you for your consideration and sage advice.

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The first thing that comes to mind is this tractor has never had a clutch or TA replaced? What are the hours? Being that hard to get out of gear I'd say the clutch is history, and with it hanging up in gear some people may have tried to yank it out of gear which may have caused the shift linkage issues. Did you adjust the dump valve on the clutch linkage? 

I'd fix it if it was mine, if you can get the equipment to do it. 

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If i was in better health i would love to get my buddies together,  pack our tools, parts, fishing gear and of course lots of pabst!! And head up there and fix it up for you. Hope you you find someone to help you.

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Excellent first post Wow.  What a hard decision.   Buy a new tractor, and have to fly a tech in every time the electronics break down.  Or bite the bullet and tear down the old solid girl and rebuild it.   That 966 is about as simple & bullet proof a tractor as ever built, but still needs fixing sometimes.

I've helped with some generator projects where everything had to be airlifted or barged in (BTW, is that an option?  Any other access points around the lake where a barge could transport the parts/tractor in??

Does this tractor have a cab?   If so, you will need a way to remove that to do any major work.   Big tree & come-along?  

I guess my first question is...do you have any flat solid area where you can work on this tractor?   Concrete pad? Paved drive?   I don't think that I'd even try it if I don't have that.   With a solid flat area, and I assume a basic welder, I'd just have them fly in some short (3-4') pieces of steel on a normal flight,  and build a couple basic jigs to hold the engine and tranny.   They don't have to be anything fancy...I have a set of very simple plate and angle Iron frames for the engine end....we used blocks and shims under the lower angle to set the height.   I have used a simple engine rebuilding stand (again, 50 lbs in a reasonable sized box) to hold the center section.    A good 2 1/2 ton rolling jack for the back end, a come along, and trees to tie to, and everything else can be done with normal hand tools.

 I would even suggest making (or have made) a simple set of stands that could be disassembled easily while home in TN, and then fly them in with you.   

OR---hire the Army to drop another tractor in by heavy lift chopper.....?

I look forward to other suggestions, and pictures!   So glad you posted this, what an interesting thread.   Some pictures of your location would be cool too (free advertizing??) As noted, if you offer a week free fishing, you just might get the thing rebuilt for beer & parts!    Get about 10 old IH techs, they migh just pick it up by hand.....see Amish barn moving thread.

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FarmerFixEmUp, Nope never a clutch or TA. Easy to get out of gear, no problem. Can't get it in gear with the engine running. Hours?? Let's see,,, used 3 months out of the year X 8 hrs/day X 50 years = What? 36,000 hrs give or take an hour or two.

Jeff,  That's why I'm here consulting the experts. Fly in only. Or trudge across the tundra in the winter. No one is there when it's -45 F in the winter. Yup, we have a cab. Nope, no big trees. We are just south of the arctic tree line so our trees don't get much bigger around than 10 inches and 20 foot tall. I have considered constructing a timber frame gin pole lifting device. We are called Big Sand for a reason. No solid ground anywhere. I have considered a sliding rail system that would hold the two jig's in aliment. No materials but we do have a welder. Most of the time I can make things stick together.

Even if we separate the sections can the repair be made in the field? Not knowing what needs to be replaced inside? Is it conceivable  to transport a rebuilt middle and swap them out?

Tried the training exercise thing, they didn't think it was funny. 

Trying to find a good pic of the tractor. I'll add it when I find it. Meanwhile check these out.

Lodge.JPG

Fish.jpg

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At this point I would say your biggest problem is you can't shift it in/out of gear with the engine running and the shift linkage. My opinion is the pilot bearing in the flywheel is froze up, that's why the transmission won't stop with clutch in. Could also be a warped clutch disc and with the abuse you say it's had, that's a possibility. The most important thing is the clutch releasing problem can be fixed without removing the cab. If you want to fix the TA, then like Jeff said, a whole lot more work involved. It's possible, depending on the style of cab it has, to be able to tilt the cab back and not actually remove it. Still need lifting devices, but you may not have to lift the whole cab. The shift linkages can all be repaired fairly easily once you get all panels off the access them. 

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TB5288,  

Right I don't have to have the TA. Our use doesn't require what it is designed to do. Yup the cab can be tilted back. The tractor still has to be split to get to the clutch package and bearing. Correct? When you push the clutch in the tractor stops moving with no issue. But the trans gears will not stop. Is that solely a clutch issue and not an internal mid section issue?

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The tractor does have to be split behind the engine to do the clutch. The clutch not releasing problem is confined to the clutch area. It's either the pilot bearing, a warped disc or is way out of adjustment. Has the adjustment been checked, you would have excessive free travel on the clutch pedal if adjustment was the problem. Another thing to understand is just because you don't use the TA, it's possible for it to fail and cause to tractor to not move at all. I've seen that many times. 

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Golly that makes me hungry for real fresh fish.   

If you have no flat hard spot, can you make something that won't require it?   If you can come up with a rail system that you could bolt on each side, and hold the tractor generally straight, if you can split the tractor 12-18" you can fix the clutch.  Clutches are easy,  no need to remove the cab.   

Worse case, you would have to fly in some steel, & a new flywheel & clutch. 

You should also be able to work on all the shift linkages thru the top, if you can remove the platform.   The only reason to double split everything is if the TA or gears themselves are bad.   The only special tools needed are the stands, everything is easily done using basic hand tools.  Grew up working on dad's 1066.... never had more that 3/8 & 1/2" socket sets & straight wrenches.  We used the roof trusses in the shop (reinforced) to raise the cab with a come along--not sure why we never killed ourselves or pulled in the shed roof....

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2 hours ago, Big Sand Lake Lodge said:

FarmerFixEmUp, Nope never a clutch or TA. Easy to get out of gear, no problem. Can't get it in gear with the engine running. Hours?? Let's see,,, used 3 months out of the year X 8 hrs/day X 50 years = What? 36,000 hrs give or take an hour or two.

Jeff,  That's why I'm here consulting the experts. Fly in only. Or trudge across the tundra in the winter. No one is there when it's -45 F in the winter. Yup, we have a cab. Nope, no big trees. We are just south of the arctic tree line so our trees don't get much bigger around than 10 inches and 20 foot tall. I have considered constructing a timber frame gin pole lifting device. We are called Big Sand for a reason. No solid ground anywhere. I have considered a sliding rail system that would hold the two jig's in aliment. No materials but we do have a welder. Most of the time I can make things stick together.

Even if we separate the sections can the repair be made in the field? Not knowing what needs to be replaced inside? Is it conceivable  to transport a rebuilt middle and swap them out?

Tried the training exercise thing, they didn't think it was funny. 

Trying to find a good pic of the tractor. I'll add it when I find it. Meanwhile check these out.

Lodge.JPG

Fish.jpg

Beautiful place.

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6 hours ago, Big Sand Lake Lodge said:

This is my first post in any forum ever. So bear with me, I'm old and tend to ramble. I post here to ask the community for their advice and recommendations. I have a F 966 #2510175U009030, built I believe in 1971. This ole girl is located at a hunting, fishing lodge on the shores of Big Sand Lake in northern Manitoba Canada. The tractor was purchased new and driven up on a winter road that no longer exists. We are a fly in lodge with our own unimproved runway. Everything we get must be flown up to us at great expense.

This machine has been used hard by many different people every summer of its life. Some of these operators were not as qualified as others and now she is showing the injuries of this hard life. Even with the hard use this tractor runs like it did in 71. Purrs like a kitten. I wish every engine I have ever had held up like this one.

Now for the bad stuff and why I need advice. As the years passed by the transmissions have received the majority of the abuse. From the shifting linkages on the column to the internal components of both sections. We are down to one forward and one reverse gear range that can only be selected when the engine is not running. Example put the tractor in forward using a old oar handle to move the linkage at the base of the column, start the engine, let out on the clutch and head on down the road, push the clutch in, stop the tractor , turn off the engine, use the oar handle to select reverse, start the engine, let out the clutch and back up.

When the engine is running, even with the clutch fully depressed the gears continue to spin and shifting is impossible. Last summer I replaced the transmission brake and installed the modified linkage. Adjusted the new linkage to provide the greatest amount of pressure to stop the spinning gears and this made no improvement. When I removed the access cover that holds the trans brake I found the remains of the torque assist clutches which explained why the torque assist has not work for many years.

If this tractor was at my home in Tennessee I would not hesitate to split the sections and dive in. I could re-manufacture the shifting linkages. New arms, bushings. I have a tractor grave yard just up the road for spare parts. However, where it is located we have no heavy lifting equipment, no holding jigs to support the sections,  no machine shop.

What would the community do? Try to fix her up or retire her with gratefulness for a long service. Keep it in mind that to replace her we have to buy a replacement, wait until winter when the lakes are frozen, cut a winter road through the bush about 150 miles long to get the replacement on site. Or Fly in the parts, jigs, special tools, expertise on a Basler aircraft which has a cargo capacity of about 18,000 lbs. and costs about $7000 one way. 

We cannot live without a workhorse like this tractor. Runway maintenance is not the only job we require of her. There are many, many others.

Thank you for your consideration and sage advice.

If you take bottom cover under flywheel off. Right behind oil pan. Two bolts hold it up. I would guarantee you or bet you a 1000 dollars either  a clutch finger broke or release bearing locked and ate fingers up. Common to happen. Yes you can split them outside a piece of plywood or two. A couple jacks or a makeshift stand out of whatever is available. Not a hard job. I wouldn’t worry about TA section have clutch fixed it will shift. All parts to make it shift weigh about 200lbs so can be flown in. A basic set of tools she will be shifting again.

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16 hours ago, Jeff-C-IL said:

You should also be able to work on all the shift linkages thru the top, if you can remove the platform.   The only reason to double split everything is if the TA or gears themselves are bad.   The only special tools needed are the stands, everything is easily done using basic hand tools.  Grew up working on dad's 1066.... never had more that 3/8 & 1/2" socket sets & straight wrenches.  We used the roof trusses in the shop (reinforced) to raise the cab with a come along--not sure why we never killed ourselves or pulled in the shed roof....

I had to chuckle at that last bit. I thought the same thing when we took the cab on and off the 806 for the TA job this past winter, but we survived. lol

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I would think that if money wasn’t a huge deal, compared to buying a new tractor comparatively speaking $100k ish, you could buy used center sections have them rebuild by a knowledgeable mechanic and all the parts ( clutch, ipto shaft bearings and seals) and in one trip put her back together. Then you could bring the old parts back and refurbish them for the next time. It seems much cheaper to me to do that then to get a new tractor up there and then have all the problems that you will definitely have with the new stuff and no support where you are.  

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Last week I replaced a clutch in a 1086 with similar symptoms. Clutch would not release to shift into gear... had to start in gear, but then it would stop by depressing the clutch. The driven disc torsional vibration dampner springs were falling apart and wedging between the flywheel and pressure plate. You should be able to get by with installing a new clutch and bearings. Get a new release bearing carrier too.. minimal expense when you are at the end of the earth. Hopefully the flywheel is ok, you may be best off to just order a new one  and have it flown in with the clutch. All of the shifting linkage you need to replace will be readily available from a wrecking yard. The most common problem is the roll pins at the bottom of the shifter shafts. I may suggest Fawcett Tractor in St. Mary's Ontario. They ship all over North America and will have all of the parts you need on the shelf. 1-800-372-7149. Ask for Paul.

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22 hours ago, Big Sand Lake Lodge said:

FarmerFixEmUp, Nope never a clutch or TA. Easy to get out of gear, no problem. Can't get it in gear with the engine running. Hours?? Let's see,,, used 3 months out of the year X 8 hrs/day X 50 years = What? 36,000 hrs give or take an hour or two.

Jeff,  That's why I'm here consulting the experts. Fly in only. Or trudge across the tundra in the winter. No one is there when it's -45 F in the winter. Yup, we have a cab. Nope, no big trees. We are just south of the arctic tree line so our trees don't get much bigger around than 10 inches and 20 foot tall. I have considered constructing a timber frame gin pole lifting device. We are called Big Sand for a reason. No solid ground anywhere. I have considered a sliding rail system that would hold the two jig's in aliment. No materials but we do have a welder. Most of the time I can make things stick together.

Even if we separate the sections can the repair be made in the field? Not knowing what needs to be replaced inside? Is it conceivable  to transport a rebuilt middle and swap them out?

Tried the training exercise thing, they didn't think it was funny. 

Trying to find a good pic of the tractor. I'll add it when I find it. Meanwhile check these out.

Lodge.JPG

Fish.jpg

Is that an Otter in the picture? I would think anything you needed could be flown in or out on it, you don't need anything huge to do the work to your tractor. That's an awesome fish!

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2 hours ago, Farmall Doctor said:

Last week I replaced a clutch in a 1086 with similar symptoms. Clutch would not release to shift into gear... had to start in gear, but then it would stop by depressing the clutch. The driven disc torsional vibration dampner springs were falling apart and wedging between the flywheel and pressure plate. You should be able to get by with installing a new clutch and bearings. Get a new release bearing carrier too.. minimal expense when you are at the end of the earth. Hopefully the flywheel is ok, you may be best off to just order a new one  and have it flown in with the clutch. All of the shifting linkage you need to replace will be readily available from a wrecking yard. The most common problem is the roll pins at the bottom of the shifter shafts. I may suggest Fawcett Tractor in St. Mary's Ontario. They ship all over North America and will have all of the parts you need on the shelf. 1-800-372-7149. Ask for Paul.

Good advice

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Thank you one and all. 

Repair it's going to be. Given all the variables, fixing her makes the most sense. While I don't have a nice level concrete shop floor I do have the ability to cut 4X8 timbers up to ten feet in length. So making up something to provide the support should not be that involved.

In a post above a distance of separation of 12 inches was given as enough to replace flywheel and clutch. Is that enough? You guys that have done this, how much is ideal? I know the less their separated the less they can get out of alignment.

Now to round up the parts and get them to Winnipeg or Thompson CD. I've got parts from "Double "R" Farm Equip" in the past I'll check with them and also "Fawcett Tractor". Break out the parts book.

Yes that's a Otter in the pic. For us not the best cost effective option. We get the best dollar per pound from a Beaver (float) or Caravan/Chieftain (wheeled). A Basler for heavy, large items. Our fuel comes on a Basler at 1500 gal per load.

That's a 44 inch Lake Trout caught in the fall in 12 feet of water. They be guarding their eggs and don't like a yellow and black "Five of Diamonds" passing through.

4940.jpeg

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The more separation you have the easier it is on the individual doing the work. Yes 12 inches is enough but that will require some tuff lifting when you remove the flywheel. It's not crazy heavy but when you have to lift it with arms extended, it's quite heavy. It also only bolts on one way, the bolt holes are not all the same distance apart. It would be very difficult to install flywheel unless you have alignment studs. That makes it much easier. Would be best if you can get enough separation to where you can stand behind engine in my opinion. You also gotta think of aligning new clutch disc. I usually just eyeball the clutch disc hub in relation to the pilot bearing inner race, but there is a tool to do this also.

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In all seriousness, I think I’d be placing a call to the king himself, perhaps he hasn’t seen this post but I would certainly value his advice and input. 

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8 hours ago, vtfireman85 said:

In all seriousness, I think I’d be placing a call to the king himself, perhaps he hasn’t seen this post but I would certainly value his advice and input. 

+1 If somehow you aren't aware, Joey Barnes, aka the King of Obsolete, is one of the most interesting, resourceful, and capable old iron mechanics you can find online and he makes winter freighting roads up near you too.  He normally only works on tractors with steel shoes but from what I've read if you give him some Cheese Whiz you'll get his attention.

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OMG Why didn't I think of The King. He has helped us out many times. Lynn Lake is the closest hamlet with a all weather airport. We use Lynn Lake when our runway is soup and we can't land wheeled aircraft. The King is the only person with a van and he has been so kind to assist us and ferry our guests from the float plane dock to the airport from time to time. He even signed a few copies of his book for some of our guests.

Right now I'm stuck in Tennessee. Our governments have closed the border and shut us down until they think the world is safe again. So I'm using this time to stage materials so we will be ready when they lift the blockade.

Once we are able to get on site again I'll be sure to photo document the repair and share with all you good folks.

Check us out if you care to at www.bigsandlakelodge.com

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Just read this post, a lot of good info from all these guys. This is very interesting, good luck with the ole girl and keep us informed?. Buy the way,,, nice place and fish. Makes our walleye Saginaw bay look small

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