Agri Vehicles Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?  (Read 9329 times)

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #30 on: October 25, 2021, 06:01:43 pm »
@arobwk - having followed your 300 rebuild  - I wonder if this one is really in 'excellent working order'

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/114785794215?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

I can't remember @Q whether you have ever said where you are, but I would not buy at that price without being able to go see it in Leominster and witness it being operated for a decent amount of time.  And then check whether present owner has any history of ownership and repair bills along the way. 

As you will be well aware, 300s are very old machines (some 60 years old) and the present owner/seller will possibly have owned (and maintained !) for just a small fraction of it's life. [The question "why are you selling ?" is always a good start !] 

To note that "fully refurbished" Howards go for a bit more than 600, BUT not really an awful lot more.  If the idea of a vintage Howard is really tickling your fancy and you might be up for spending 600 on a vintage machine then I would suggest spending a little more (if you can or wait until you can) to afford one advertised as fully refurb'ed (with associated bills and some sort of guarantee etc). 

The seller of a Howard in "excellent working order" (and definitely without any oil leaks what-so-ever) may well be offering a genuinely good machine, but I personally wouldn't buy it at that price without some very good history and flawless demonstration in operation - and then I reckon I would still offer a much lower purchase price after viewing/demonstration.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 07:39:10 pm by arobwk »

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #31 on: October 25, 2021, 07:16:27 pm »
I've just been offered a MTD 450 PRO for 700, which is pretty much the same type of machine but this one is one owner and very little used. I thought that was a bit much as my guidance has been 1/3 of the new price even if it is perfect, so 1500 new therefore 500. But I'm sure there must be a market for old machines for the love of them? We have an Ariens 6HP rotorvator, perhaps 50 years old and working as well as it always did, but I'd expect it is worth scrap only. I love it, if only for the challenge of starting it!

Q

  • Joined Apr 2013
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #32 on: October 25, 2021, 07:21:48 pm »
@arobwk - quite right - i have seen a few fully furbished for around 750 that i would take on rather than that one from ebay.
I was just being a bit tongue-in-cheek looking at the work yours needed compared to something described as good working order.
If you cant beat 'em then at least bugger 'em about a bit.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #33 on: October 25, 2021, 08:03:16 pm »
I've just been offered a MTD 450 PRO for 700, which is pretty much the same type of machine but this one is one owner and very little used. I thought that was a bit much as my guidance has been 1/3 of the new price even if it is perfect, so 1500 new therefore 500. But I'm sure there must be a market for old machines for the love of them? We have an Ariens 6HP rotorvator, perhaps 50 years old and working as well as it always did, but I'd expect it is worth scrap only. I love it, if only for the challenge of starting it!

I wonder whether your might be surprised at what your vintage Ariens is worth @chrismahon !  But, then, you are in France !!! Lol

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #34 on: October 25, 2021, 08:45:20 pm »
Well the update as regards my Howard's fuel-feed issues is both a sorry and a happy tale: 

A sorry tale because we did not think laterally enough (over many many hours);  happy tale because it didn't take much at all to rectify in the end.
Bro' has been testing start-up/running (post refurb') on less than a full fuel tank:  what we didn't realise was that fuel tank actually had an anti-crud up-stand pipe at the outlet to the fuel sight-glass/fuel pipe !! In other words, fuel tank cannot be run completely dry, but, it turned out to be a rather high (excessive) cut-off level on my Howard.  (How much fuel-tank crud or water was Howard actually expecting to accumulate in the tank ??  To note, though, that manual says the Kohler K91/Howard 300 combo was 10% ethanol ready !!)
We have been debating this for days, but Bro' finally thought to take a look inside fuel tank and discovered the excessive length of the anti-crud pipe: he's now cut a nick into it with a chisel (as the most expedient measure) to lower the anti-crud/water protection fuel level to a more sensible level.
Sorted and all done at last. 
My Howard is now ready for delivery to the Fields and I'm hoping we can find a shower-free period this week for a bit of comfortable testing under load with any little bit of fettling finally to be done in work-mode rather than workshop mode !
 :)
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 11:08:24 pm by arobwk »

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #35 on: October 26, 2021, 07:31:41 am »
Similar problem with my Arians 'Jet' @arobwk , but in my case it's caused by the fuel tank being lower than the float bowl, so it needs to be over half full before the carb gets any petrol. When it's in use it bounces about so much that the level in the tank doesn't matter- starting is the issue.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #36 on: October 26, 2021, 06:11:52 pm »
Luckily I have neither fuel issues (any more) nor starting issues (bro' seems to have set up carb pretty good), BUT post-refurb' maiden-run was today and "Oh bother !".  There is a grinding noise when the lower gear cog is engaged (hopefully) coming from the gear box.  In the higher gear and reverse everything sounds just fine though.  Howie is now back in bro's w\shop under his "5 seconds guarantee". 

(I say "hopefully in the gearbox" because it would be a major strip-down again if it's not.  It's gotta be in the gear box though, which will be a pain, but the least of all possible pains.) 

Noise did not arise at all on short low-gear workshop test runs (several yards on several occasions) and definitely wasn't there before the refurb'.
Bro' has already taken top cover off the gearbox and reports "can't see nothing (sic) yet, all spins lovely".  So another mystery!  (Bro' does admit that the innards of the gear-box fell apart when removed and that it was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to get it all back together - he's wondering whether he missed a shim or something and cogs have been jittered around in the horse box on way to Fields.  We shall see after further investigation idc.)

Two "Howie" observations (if you haven't stopped reading already): 

I've never adjusted the drive belt into the higher gearing pulley slots (effectively 3rd and 4th), but that is where it is now. Phew, I never knew Howie's supposed top speed of 5 mph was as brisk a pace as that !  Howie was not actually digging dirt on our test runs, but I reckon, in my loose/fine soil, 4th gear will be quite a work-out even when actually churning it up!

Howie's little exhaust baffle is the only one of its type I've come across ont' web (pics or manuals):  bro' wanted to replace it with a home-made baffle, but I rejected the idea and, with the engine fully tuned and at full throttle, it gives the best "boys' toys" throaty exhaust sound one could hope for (definitely not the sound one would expect from a 4HP bit of garden machinery !)  That was a good decision  :D








 
« Last Edit: October 26, 2021, 07:01:35 pm by arobwk »

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #37 on: October 26, 2021, 06:46:59 pm »
The exhaust box fell to bits on the Ariens @arobwk , only to be repaired with the housing from a central heating solenoid valve- can't remember the name of them and Google doesn't come up with any pictures. But my repair is very loud, so ear muffs are absolutely essential.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #38 on: October 26, 2021, 07:13:36 pm »
Well, @chrismahon (and everyone) we should all use ear-defenders each and every time when using noisy machinery. (Even some electric kit can create quite a noise best avoided over a lengthy period.)  My father never did wear and was effectively deaf before his recent passing.  I always use defenders, but, today, neither bro' nor me got around to donning defenders during Howie's testing - I can actually "feel" my ears this eve - they've been jiggered by Howie's roar !!


 
« Last Edit: October 26, 2021, 07:15:44 pm by arobwk »

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #39 on: October 28, 2021, 11:04:06 pm »
Well, bro' and I spent well over 3 hours today peering into the Howard gear-box with top selector plate removed and then, having removed the rotors selector plate as well, into the innards of the chassis. Certain nothing bad inside the chassis, so back to the gear-box.

So how can one spend over 3 hrs looking, turning and moving gears back and forth and scratching heads while repeating the phrase "It doesn't make sense, the gears are all meshing really nicely."  Well we actually did, including a tooth-by-tooth inspection of every gear cog looking for signs of unusual wear, hoping for a eureka moment.  Bro' was reluctantly up for removing the gear box again, but "No, it won't help because we both know this issue is not making sense - we are missing something !"

Well, as darkness fell, maybe we did come upon that eureka moment.  However, too late to start fettling this eve and we no longer had the patience. I'm not going to jinx by saying what we think might, just might, be happening. Fingers crossed for tomorrow though. I have a quid bet on a very simple solution - didn't dare bet anything more !!  If I'm wrong, then the gear-box will come off again.




arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #40 on: October 30, 2021, 08:00:12 pm »
I lost the bet.  Although some careful fettling of the reverse gear selector-fork did make everything feel even smoother turning gear-box over by hand it did not make any real difference when put back to running order !

Another subtle tweak planned:  again I wish not to jinx !
If that doesn't work, I shall simply put the Howard to work and monitor:  although we have changed very little inside the casings, maybe it just needs to be "run in" again with all the gears "getting to know each other once more". If it gets noisier (rather than quieter) after some good hours of use then we will consider another strip/split of the main casing.
Edit:  Bro' just updated saying he's going to split case again if the extra tweak shows no improvement rather than "allow" me to re-run in.  Fingers crossed then !

« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 08:11:23 pm by arobwk »

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #41 on: October 31, 2021, 04:41:37 pm »
Bro' advises that, rather than mess around with tweaks, he took gear-box off and discovered that noise does emanate from the chassis-case gears (against all odds).  So it's another complete break-down to cure - poor ol' bro' !  (I've suggested though that he might like take a "holiday" from Howie's restoration, especially given the cr*p weather forecasts for the short/medium term wrt to land management ops'.)
« Last Edit: October 31, 2021, 05:12:14 pm by arobwk »

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #42 on: November 15, 2021, 07:04:11 pm »
Well, we've finally decided my Howard 300 is well and truly ... f i x e d !

Was planning to take up to the Fields today for a decent work-out, but family business prevented in the event.
Bro' and I had to make do with some trepidatious runs up and down his driveway and side bank, BUT with nary a murmur from Howard - RESULT !  Full-load test ("in anger") planned for 2mor, but, really, it will just be a formality - the Howard is running pretty darn good !  (And I'm not even going to touch wood after that statement.)

The technical report for those so minded:

After the 2nd chassis split, chassis-case gears were re-shimmed to prevent any chance of rubbing what so ever if chassis flexed/stressed.
Subsequent rebuild and retest suggested "grumbling" noise reduced, but by no means cured, so gear box taken off once again and dismantled (bro' can now almost do that and rebuild with eyes shut !).

Going with the fact that running in high gear (with fewer gear cogs engaged) is not as noisy as in low gear or reverse (when a multitude of gear cogs on different shafts are engaged), we manually determined that the gears on the drive-shaft stiffen each other up along the shaft in high gear, resisting any gear "wobble" on the drive shaft.  BUT, in low gear, the "drive gear" is not bolstered by sideways contact and a bit flabby on the shaft:  applying manual sideways thrust to connected gears identified a difference in feel through the "drive-gear" when turned over manually.

The decision was made to re-bush the "drive gear" (noisy culprit or not - nothing to lose cos we had no other ideas).  A piece of partially drilled brass rod was chosen, but it still took most of an afternoon to slowly manufacture new bushing on the lathe keeping the gear/shaft tolerance very tight and finally only loosened up (spinning easily) using Brasso.

The gear box was reassembled and, then, one could hardly tell the difference between high and low when box turned over manually - sweet!  When re-installed and run up and down the driveway and with rotors engaged on the the bank everything was still sweet today!  Howie is clearly fixed.

Detail above provided for any other owners who might eventually go thro' a grumbling Howard:  we suspect that there was so much crud built up inside the gear-box over the years that it was hiding/compensating for the wear.  Cleaning out and using fresh oil made slop in the gear-box apparent. (Bro' did "fill out" one other g-box shaft and lathe back to spec' dimension, but it was the "drive gear" slop on the drive shaft, after the clean-out/rebuild, that was the real problem.) 

 :) :) :)
I might manage a photo idc.








 
« Last Edit: November 16, 2021, 09:54:37 pm by arobwk »

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #43 on: November 16, 2021, 09:04:42 pm »
Despite the dank weather, the Howard was put through it's paces over several rotavating runs amongst the willow rows (after a couple of passes with the new Hyundai wheeled trimmer to reduce the grass cover).  Yep, Howie is back and fighting fit ! 

(There is still a minor issue with fuel feed that is foxing us, but it didn't interrupt the rotavating runs.)

And, in passing, the new Hyundai self-propelled trimmer (originally mentioned on a different thread) also did pretty good today despite having to tackle some very wet, tough, dense grass.  Its slow travel speed does make for an "unnatural/awkward" walking-pace (for me), but at least I'm not having to push it  :)
« Last Edit: November 16, 2021, 09:49:54 pm by arobwk »

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: over-crowded already. You really don't want to live here actually.
Re: Any experience of a Howard 300 Rotavator?
« Reply #44 on: November 23, 2021, 04:38:38 pm »
Re-read of Howard user manual made me smile:
"Every 25 hours or weekly, change the engine oil"  Phooph - that's not going to happen !!
« Last Edit: November 23, 2021, 05:27:25 pm by arobwk »

 

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