Another video update! This was filmed a while ago but I just finally got around to editing it down. I also filmed the method I used to load the back tires with 48 gallons of windshield washer fluid. It was easy!!
The tractor has been running great and has been coming in very handy the last several weeks.
If you have an electric golf cart, follow along and you might not need to ever plug it back in to charge again! If you don’t have one (yet), I am finding it a super handy, affordable (and stealthy!) addition to my various ways of getting around the property. I highly recommend one!
We live in an area that is home to lots of groundhogs, also sometimes called woodchucks, whistle-pigs, or land-beavers. They can be a nuisance in the agriculture world because not only will they eat crops, but they also dig large tunnels for a burrow. Their burrow can be up to 50 feet long and usually have 2-5 entrances. These holes are generally cleverly hidden in tall grass right along road and paths, and big enough to injure people or animals that accidentally step into them or even damage equipment.
The result is these critters are often shot to control their population. I had mentioned to one of the neighbors that we might try eating one sometime. I had read that they are pretty good.
Well the other day, the neighbor brought one up to the porch that he had just shot. I wasn’t going to waffle now, so Groundhog was what’s for dinner!
Note: The original design of this solar generator used a 2,000 watt inverter. We have upgraded it to the new 3,000 watt model in the latest version along with several other improvements. Before you build the solar generator following our plans, be sure to watch the new intro and updates video below for the changes!
Solar Generators (also called Solar Powered Generators) are extremely useful tools. I started looking into some of the largest portable solar generator units on the market because the idea of a completely silent generator that can run large power loads while never needing gasoline is a really cool concept. Whether you want to run a portable table saw, or go tailgating / camping where the noise of a standard generator would be irritating, these solar generators are really handy.
I soon realized I could build my own — getting to pick the components that best match my needs, and even better save approximately half the cost vs buying a manufactured solar generator. This post will show you step-by-step how to build your own weatherproof indoor/ outdoor diy solar generator!
After seeing what was available, I found myself wanting to design my own solar generator for many reasons. For one it will be a lot cheaper. Second, I can add several features I wanted to add that are not in to the manufactured units. Finally, because it will be an enjoyable project!
By building your own, you will learn all about small off-grid solar setups, and also be able to fix the individual components if you ever have problems with it down the road. You can also easily modify the plans to build a permanent style off grid solar power setup for a cabin or camper.
Loading your tractor tires with windshield washer fluid is an easy upgrade giving more traction, better hill stability, and additional weight / ballast. This is also helps with using a front end loader. I decided to use windshield washer fluid since it is inexpensive, easy to obtain, will not freeze, and will not corrode the wheels like calcium and some of the other wheel ballast options.
First startup after initial 30-minute run-in and head bolts re-torqued. Now starting to apply load to break in the engine and seat the piston rings.
This is the first time the tractor has moved under its own power in many years! Entire chassis has been split, separated, cleaned up, restored and painted.
Also talk about some of the remaining issues that still need addressed in the steering column, and the front gear case on the left side wheel.
I have repaired both of the issues discovered during the engine break-in video. The steering column had way to much play and lifting up on the steering wheel cause it to pop out of place, and the front axle had a major oil leak at the front left hub.
The repair to the steering was much more difficult than I had expected! Instead of being a broken shear-pin like I had hoped, it turned out the input shaft to the power steering box had broken instead of the pin. It was amazing I had any steering at all!
A replacement power steering box from Kubota was over $600, and I didn’t see any used ones available online. A look at the parts tear down showed me that welding to this shaft was likely to be an issue, as it had rubber seals o-rings on the internal worm gear portion. After talking over options with several friends, we came up with the plan to drill a new hole in the shaft. There were a couple hurdles to this.
First – the shaft is hardened. None of the drill bits I had could even scratch this material. After researching online, I read first about ultra expensive carbide bits for hardened steel, and than about people using inexpensive carbide masonry bits the same way. I bought some carbide bits intended for glass and ceramics and they worked great!
I had to remove the top cover to the power steering box for clearance so I taped it all up to keep the metal shavings out of the inside. I then went nice and slow with the smallest bit in the kit, and then stepped up progressively to the size I needed for my through-bolt.
The second issue was that there wasn’t actually enough room on the upper steering shaft for the second hole. This wasn’t too big of a problem though. I just welded on some tabs / ears at the bottom to lengthen it, and then through holed that. This was plain old steel so the welding and drilling went uneventful.
The last hurdle to the repair was that now that I had a hole in each piece, once the power steering box cover was installed there wasn’t enough room to install the bolt! One more hole needed, this time in the cast iron cover for installing the bolt. This one drilled very easy with standard bits as well!
Now I just needed to thread the steering collumn cover back on over the repaired shaft and good to go!
The front axle oil leak was in the swivel point for the left wheel. The bushings in the top knuckle support, which also supports this swivel, were very worn allowing the two sides to have a lot of free play. That movement combined with old dry-rotted oil seals resulted in a very fast oil leak!
I separated the wheel hub gear case from the main axle. I chipped out the old brass bushing from the knuckle support and pressed in a new one. I then removed the two old oil seals. There is a seal in the hub gear case, and another one on the axle arm itself. The oil in the main axle is isolated from the oil in the hub / gear cases on each side. When changing / checking axle oil, make sure you check all three fill points!
I used a trick I had read about for removing both seals since they were in blind holes. I carefully screwed a dry wall screw into the old seal, and then used large vice grips attached to the screw with a hammer to tap the seals out. I tapped the new seals in with a mallet and soft piece of wood to protect the new seals.
I also took the opportunity to replace the torn boots on all three ball joints on the front axle, packing them with fresh grease. Having one of those pop apart with a loaded bucket while on a hill does not sound like fun! And those sort of things have a knack for failing at the most inopportune time!
The finished large solar generator featured in our DIY How To Build a Solar Generator series. If you are getting ready to follow our video tutorial and build your own solar generator, make sure you watch this video first so you know about the design updates!
In the video below we go over the solar generator features, solar panel kit specs, and our DIY battery bank expansion units. In addition, we show how to upgrade / improve several aspects of the original design including a higher power AC power inverter (3,000 watt continuous, 6,000 watt peak), fully waterproof external switches, mounting improvements, and a better way to store accessories inside the solar generator main case.
We purchased an ’86 Travel Villa 29′ fifth wheel camper as an inexpensive means to travel out west with our dogs. The camper is an older model, but it has served us well. After building the solar generator, I have found that I always want to bring it with us when we travel as we typically boon-dock without hookups.
I have decided I would like to add a dedicated solar power system to the camper. This way the camper will always be ready to go, and the dedicated solar panels will also keep the camper’s existing deep-cycle battery topped off when not in use.