Elec-Trak E10 Tractor

After building an electric car, the irony wasn’t lost on me having to drive that electric car to a gas station to buy gas for my riding lawn mower.

Two weeks later, I got a phone call out of the blue from someone I had never met before, asking if I wanted to buy his old GE Elec-Trak riding lawn mower. The mower wasn’t in great condition, there was plenty of rust on it, and even a tree branch growing through the rear axle. I started cleaning up the mower and getting it to work again.

Here’s a video overview of doing a little repainting:

In that video, I was working on cleaning up the rear deck of the mower.

Here’s the deck as it was when I got it, other than that I removed the seat.

Here is the deck after paint stripper, an angle grinder with a flapper disc, and a drill with a sanding wheel on it.

After all that, I finally got to prime it.

It’s a lot of work to clean up like that. I really haven’t done any restoration work before, but I am pretty happy with how this looks primed up.

A while back, I did spend a weekend over at a friend’s house doing some major work on the tractor. We had to pull it apart to replace the bearings that held the steering in place. We also pulled off the front wheels, cleaned and painted the rims, and put on new tires.

In the above photo, you can see the cleaned up rims and new tires. The hood is laying on the ground to the right, repainted, but not mounted.

I still have more work to do to restore this mower, but I sure feel better about not using any more gas to putt around my yard!

Some of the smaller parts were powder-coated. Powder-coating requires heating, so there was a size limitation of parts I could do. The parts had to fit inside my friend’s garage electric oven.

NEW RIMS

Removing the old rear rims was a big pain in the you-know-what! We ended up breaking a Snap-On puller on the one rim, and had to cut the other one off.

My buddy, Tom, salvaged some decent rims for me from the scrap yard. They were for 3/4″ driveshaft, and I needed 1″. I bought a single foot of 1″ID steel tube and gave it to my other buddy, Rich. He drilled out the old middles with a hole saw on his big lathe. Turns out the hole saw was the exact diameter of the outside of the steel tube. He just slid it in there and welded it in place! Poof! New rims. I already had the new tires. (They still make the same tread pattern!) I pulled new valve stems through the rims, and wrestled the tires on. Brand new tires, and rims, with that stock original look!

 

EDIT: And four years later…. Here’s what I did. Some welding on back corner, as well as wheel work. The one tire wasn’t holding air anymore. http://300mpg.org/2014/05/19/electric-tractor-repair/

{ 1 trackback }

E15 Mower Deck Rebuild
May 22, 2014 at 11:46 am

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steve November 10, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Hey Ben,

Would love to email a question or 10 on where to get all the parts you used to solar power your GE tractor. The inverter is not recognized – what source would you recommend to find one. Also, why use 12 volt batteries vs. the factory 6 volt type?

Thanks in advance for your reply,

Steve

2 Jon Appold November 28, 2010 at 9:19 am

Great job! Love to see a ‘proper’ E-Trak restoration (:

Steve: 12V batteries make it much lighter and because there are 3 cells instead of six greatly simplifies charging and maintenance. The added space is great to allow air to get around and keep things dry. (the larger frame are all corroded do to acid and moisture being trapped around the bottom. Of course, run-time is cut IN HALF. I’m definitely going with 12v just tonsave money. On the one ‘tugging’ tractor I’ll put the old 6V cells in for weight. -Jon

3 Robert Weekley April 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm

This is much like the E-Track Model coming to EV Fest 2012 Electric vehicle show from Northern Quebec! (And – it’s also yellow!) Details at http://www.evfest.ca – and Facebook fans can see info at http://www.facebook.com/EVFest

4 admin April 9, 2012 at 9:09 pm

The model with the front-mounted mower deck was the next one up from what I have. Mine has two blades on a mid-mounted deck (each on its own electric motor) whereas the E15 has THREE blades on the front-mounted deck. I like the idea of mowing the lawn BEFORE running it over with the front wheels. That’s gotta cut better!

5 Alex Hirbe September 14, 2016 at 11:03 am

I saw your videos on YouTube and have been looking through this website. You have some really great stuff and I thank you for sharing it with the rest of us! I am attempting to restore an Elec-trak E8M and am wondering how you cleaned the commutator and armature in your rebuild video?

6 BenN September 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

For a basic cleaning of a DC motor commutator, try using a green Scotch Brite pad. Those are useful for cleaning corrosion off electrical connections in general. They are pretty tough and scrubby, but are mostly made from plastic, so less concerns about getting bits of conductive material into motors and electrical connections. Scrub the commutator down good with the Scotch Brite and you will be surprised how nice and clean and shiny you can get it. Then, take a pick or scribe and clean out the grooves between the bars of the commutator. Doing those two things gives you a pretty good freshening up. Of course, check your brushes and replace as needed and use compressed air to blow out any brush carbon dust. You can also turn the commutator on a lathe. Take a little tiny bit off in a nice smooth layer to reveal fresh clean copper. I haven’t done that personally yet. Somebody else did it for me when I worked on the Electro-Metro motor. I have a friend who just picked up a diamond bit tool that’s specifically for turning armatures. I hope to visit him soon and use that bit on his lathe to clean up the commutator on the drive motor of my E-15 Electrak.
Hope that helps! Good Luck.

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