Using my SEE for real work

peakbagger

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After spending most of last summer chasing electrical, hydraulic cooling fans, air leaks in fuel system and a couple of other items, I actually can use my SEE for what it was intended for which is as a crawler loader. Having never owned a crawler loader I cant compare it to a conventional Cat or Case but I have been impressed in some ways and have lot to learn in other ways.

Some things of note in no particular order,

I have managed to figure out that the front right tire will rub somewhere on the body work or frame when using the loader in "unusual" body angles. If I load up the loader with loam and drive downslope over an uneven surface with the right tire lower than the left one (about 20 degrees tilt) and try to turn left, the mog is definitely an unhappy camper. I do this at a very slow crawl and if I straighten out, the rub goes away. Rubbing with lugged tires is definitely something a person notices.

Tilt locking the boom is getting a lot easier. I can usually get it the first time but the only way I can do it is position all the cylinders in stow position (bucket curled up and the upper boon up against the lower boom). I then tilt the assembly quite far down and then bring it back quickly and then push the lever back at the last minute once the assembly goes overcenter. I haven't been able to do it slowly.

Some folks who are familiar with the Case 580 controls noted that they swear the hydraulic level pad controls are weird. On my unit the left control works opposite than the right control. I am starting to remember but still its a future to see if I could synchronize them

My SEE came with the optional Ripper Claw bucket which is designed to rip rocks out, its a beast but the definitely screws up fine control like when I am pushing rocks around or trying to sneak under one Cutting a neat hole just isnt going to happen with hooks on the back of the bucket. At some point I will order up a standard bucket.

I can max out the loader bucket hydraulics with a heaping full bucket. It wont go up but will maintain level. If I tip it forward and dump a bit so its level then its quite happy.

I should have played video games when I was young, my eye hand coordination and the ability to make changes to three controls at once is going to be major learning effort.

My swap out of the cooling fans with slightly smaller but more efficient fans (due to one of the originals being rusted/shorted out) seems to work well. They move plenty of air and keep the hydraulic temp reasonable. For those not familiar there is a TSB on the rear hydraulic cooling fans, the rubber grommet where the wire enters the fan is facing upwards and age damages the grommet leading to water in the fan motor. The TSB recommends gooping the grommet with silicone. If this fan is shorted, there will be intermittent electrical short on the high amp fuse that serves the electrical system at the rear of the truck. It will only blow when the cooling fan thermal switch is on which only happens when the hydraulics are being worked. I made up an adaptor plate out of a sheet of aluminum for the fans I had sitting around so its not particularly stock but until I source an OEM fan at a reasonable price they work well.

The cooling system seems to be very effective on the engine. I work it hard with the throttle cranked up for hours with the switch at the backhoe and the temp is still mid range even on warm days.

Hearing protection is definitely mandatory when using the backhoe, I am considering pulling out my super ear muffs I use on gas turbines
 

The FLU farm

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I have managed to figure out that the front right tire will rub somewhere on the body work or frame when using the loader in "unusual" body angles. If I load up the loader with loam and drive downslope over an uneven surface with the right tire lower than the left one (about 20 degrees tilt) and try to turn left, the mog is definitely an unhappy camper. I do this at a very slow crawl and if I straighten out, the rub goes away. Rubbing with lugged tires is definitely something a person notices.

Haven't had that happen, yet, but if I do install 39x16.50 tires on 14-inch wide wheels (for lower contact pressure, better sidehill stability, and to get away from radials) there might be some rubbage on mine, too.

Tilt locking the boom is getting a lot easier. I can usually get it the first time but the only way I can do it is position all the cylinders in stow position (bucket curled up and the upper boon up against the lower boom). I then tilt the assembly quite far down and then bring it back quickly and then push the lever back at the last minute once the assembly goes overcenter. I haven't been able to do it slowly.

With the bucket and dipped folded in, my backhoe can easily be locked in with maybe 800 rpm. Of course, that's with AW 32 in the system.

Some folks who are familiar with the Case 580 controls noted that they swear the hydraulic level pad controls are weird. On my unit the left control works opposite than the right control. I am starting to remember but still its a future to see if I could synchronize them

That should be fixable with a simple hose swap, I'd think.

My SEE came with the optional Ripper Claw bucket which is designed to rip rocks out, its a beast but the definitely screws up fine control like when I am pushing rocks around or trying to sneak under one Cutting a neat hole just isnt going to happen with hooks on the back of the bucket. At some point I will order up a standard bucket.

I can max out the loader bucket hydraulics with a heaping full bucket. It wont go up but will maintain level. If I tip it forward and dump a bit so its level then its quite happy.

Mine will lift just fine, but the curl function is weak. Again, that's with AW 32.

I should have played video games when I was young, my eye hand coordination and the ability to make changes to three controls at once is going to be major learning effort.

Just as I was starting to get the hang of a 2-lever system, there was now three levers and two pedals. It took a few hours to get used to, and switching back and forth between the two backhoes often makes for several mistakes at first.

My swap out of the cooling fans with slightly smaller but more efficient fans (due to one of the originals being rusted/shorted out) seems to work well. They move plenty of air and keep the hydraulic temp reasonable. For those not familiar there is a TSB on the rear hydraulic cooling fans, the rubber grommet where the wire enters the fan is facing upwards and age damages the grommet leading to water in the fan motor. The TSB recommends gooping the grommet with silicone. If this fan is shorted, there will be intermittent electrical short on the high amp fuse that serves the electrical system at the rear of the truck. It will only blow when the cooling fan thermal switch is on which only happens when the hydraulics are being worked. I made up an adaptor plate out of a sheet of aluminum for the fans I had sitting around so its not particularly stock but until I source an OEM fan at a reasonable price they work well.

The cooling system seems to be very effective on the engine. I work it hard with the throttle cranked up for hours with the switch at the backhoe and the temp is still mid range even on warm days.

Hearing protection is definitely mandatory when using the backhoe, I am considering pulling out my super ear muffs I use on gas turbines
Say what? Yeah, ear muffs are our friend. So is turning the flapper on the exhaust to face the right side. It did help with both noise and getting smoked.
 

peakbagger

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Good hint on the flapper, make a lot of sense.

Speaking of exhaust, along the way I picked up a spare exhaust header pipe on Ebay. There is a major restriction built into the pipe downstream of the header flange that bolts up to the manifold. I need to take a look at why they needed to make such a reduction in the piping.
 

The FLU farm

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At some point I'll make an easily removable extension for the exhaust pipe - and hope I'll remember to remove it before heading into the trees.
Or maybe it should be made flexible instead?
 

bikeman

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I should have played video games when I was young, my eye hand coordination and the ability to make changes to three controls at once is going to be major learning effort.
Hahahah! Video games do make eye-hand coordination much better.
 

The FLU farm

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My swap out of the cooling fans with slightly smaller but more efficient fans (due to one of the originals being rusted/shorted out) seems to work well. They move plenty of air and keep the hydraulic temp reasonable. For those not familiar there is a TSB on the rear hydraulic cooling fans, the rubber grommet where the wire enters the fan is facing upwards and age damages the grommet leading to water in the fan motor. The TSB recommends gooping the grommet with silicone. If this fan is shorted, there will be intermittent electrical short on the high amp fuse that serves the electrical system at the rear of the truck. It will only blow when the cooling fan thermal switch is on which only happens when the hydraulics are being worked. I made up an adaptor plate out of a sheet of aluminum for the fans I had sitting around so its not particularly stock but until I source an OEM fan at a reasonable price they work well.

The cooling system seems to be very effective on the engine. I work it hard with the throttle cranked up for hours with the switch at the backhoe and the temp is still mid range even on warm days.
Alright, yesterday I pulled what appears to be a relatively new fan off the parts SEE, to replace the dead front one on the SEE I use.
It happened to be the rear one I pulled, and it came off with ease. The problem is getting the dead front one off.
Easiest would be to move the hose reel out of the way, I think, except that the inner nuts are not accessible.
Moving the whole cooler assembly seems to be the next easiest...but not exactly easy in my book.
How the heck did you do it??
 

peakbagger

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I unbolted the entire cooler but left the hoses attached. I think its four bolts. with 4 captive nuts in the cooler case. I soaked the threads that stick up inside the cooler a few times with WD 40. The bolt heads up under the deck. I agree its tight fit especially when fitting an adaptor plate to mount the new fans.
 

The FLU farm

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Thanks for the reply!
Didn't look like those nuts were captive, which is why I wasn't looking forward to that approach.
The only other way that front fan may come out is if I move the hard return line out of the way. Optimistically loosened the fitting on top, and sure enough, the fluid wants out. Thought about laying the backhoe out straight, then tilt the whole SEE to the right as much as possible with the left outrigger, in an effort to make that line more of a high point.
But, if it's only a matter of moving the cooler a bit, that's what I'll do.
There's still the issue with two of the bolts holding the old fan that broke off, and a third one that started spinning and had to be cut off. Oh well, I'll cross that bridge if I get there.
 

peakbagger

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Glad I could help. I had to drill out a couple of snapped bolts that hold the fans in. The big captive nuts in the case sure don't look like they are that securely attached, that's why I suggested hitting the threads with your favorite penetrant a few days in advance.


I would suggest seeing if you could rotate the fan motor so the grommet for the cable is below the motor, rather than on the top and seal it up well with silicone.
 

The FLU farm

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Hey, just happened to come in after finally getting that darn fan out. Barely.
Two of the four nuts became un-captive. Luckily it was the rear ones, so I could kind of reach around, but it still took about four hours.
And I did start spraying them down yesterday.
To make it even more interesting, the whole thing was also liberally siliconed into place.
Now I need to decide what to do about the busted fan fasteners. I'm thinking nut-serts. That way I can also orient the drain towards the bottom.
I'll take a photo or two of the "new" fan - it's a bit different.

Between this project fighting me every step of the way and the heat, I figured that I'd go for the grand finale and downgrade my laptop to Windows 10 while things are crappy anyway. Already made the computer in the garage non-functional by installing 10, so what could possibly go wrong with the laptop?
 

The FLU farm

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Here's the difference between the old and the "new" fan. The latter has a drain, and the motor is larger.
And I did make sure it runs before even removing it from the parts SEE.

In retrospect, it might've been faster to swap in the entire left rear "fender assembly". It would've been costly because of the fluid loss, but the resulting better parts would probably have been worth it. Live and learn.DSCN1173[1].jpgDSCN1176[1].jpg
 

peakbagger

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Something monumental occurred yesterday, I went to use my SEE to do actual work and all the major systems worked. Previously I had done work around the yard but yesterday I took it on the road about 15 miles away for some serious work. This is the first time I have taken it on the road to any extent. I live on a hill with a 400 feet elevation gain on either side, its steep for a major highway equipped with slow vehicle lanes and runaway truck ramps on both sides. The first goal was to make it down the hill. I picked third gear and motored down the hill and into town to fuel up. The highway is fairly flat and smooth but every time I got much over 30 mph the pucker factor kicked in. Despite all the steering system components appearing to be tight there is lot of slack in the steering wheel. If the road crowns the entire truck can get a side to side wobble. If a bump is hit then a front to back pitching can kick in. I didn't buy it for speed but those who willingly do 50 MPH either have a different suspension of are just braver than I.

The next challenge was at the gas station. I have always filled mine from a wide mouthed racing style fuel can. Unfortunately the automatic pumps do not like the strainer and keep kicking off. I finally pulled the strainer and filled the tank. I then motored off. The area I live in has a very extensive ATV trail network called Ride the Wilds with over 1000 miles of trails with folks coming from all over New England and many of the local roads allow ATV traffic. I got a lot of thumbs up and folks stopping to stare as I drove by. There are few hills along the way and I learned that it can be real slow haul up some of them.

When I arrived on site the projects for the day were varied. A couple of holes in bony soil and some log skidding off a steep slope. My SEE has what appears to be the apparently rare Hein Warner ripper claw bucket (I have yet to see another one on any ad). The ripper claw definitely makes for less than smooth holes but it really works well in loose ledge. I encountered it in a few spots and by pulling forward with the bucket, then rotating the bucket to engage the hooks against the hard stuff the ledge normally came out in chunks. The next project was stump pulling, I could get under the stump but was fighting the roots, what ended up working was to use the ripper claws to grab and break the roots on either side of the stump and then get under the stump and rip it out. Unfortunately the stump was grown over a price of solid ledge, good old NH granite. Unlike the prior loose ledge, this was solid. I raked the ripper hooks over it few times created smoke and decided that this ledge will require the drill and some slow dynamite to remove. I had left the drill home so on to the next hole. The next hole had a mix of solid and loose ledge. I was on a slope digging downwards and had some progress but one definite issue with a ripper hook is that its easy to get the bucket stuck on an outcropping and pull the backhoe forward, potentially down over the lip of the hole (a 6 foot drop). After getting the loose ledge clear I went to the final days activity, log skidding.

The logs were 24" diameter pine logs about 20 feet long, they were on a steep 40 degree slope. I had to back up the slope to the butt of the log. I had to back in the ditch put it in 4WD and lock the diffs. I backed up the slope with the only issue was having to raise the backhoe blade significantly to keep it off the pavement due to the steep angle. We chained the log to the pintle and I drove off. I really couldn't feel the load and just drove down the road. This was repeated for two other logs. I now know how well these work as skidders.

I then headed back down the road home. I stopped by to fill up and this time removed the strainer. The engine had been running for 7 hours with about 4 hours of high throttle for the backhoe and another 2 hours of low idle. The total fill was 6.7 gallons, I was impressed. The final drive was up the steep 400 foot hill near my house. I tried it in third but eventually shifted to 2nd in high gear and motored up at about 11 MPH. I pulled into the driveway and let it idle for awhile and shut it down for the day.

So the only things that I noticed which are what I consider minor issues.

The PTO lever likes to vibrate lose, I have a piece of wood that I use to hold it in.

I have a leaky cylinder that I have wrapped with an oil pad, the leak seems to be reducing so it may just be that working it is the best thing

The horn stopped working at some point prior to the day.

Even with the heat off there is a lot of heat coming in through the foot well and the heater. Not bad on a cool day but definitely annoying on a hot one.

I have headlight out, in order to change it I have to pull the loader to get at the screws (definitely a PITA).

I noticed that the wiring to the back end of the loader solenoids are very exposed and the terminals are crusty. I need to replace the connectors and build a shield to prevent damage to the wires and the loader controls.

The one upgrade I need is a rear view camera, I waste a lot of time initially positioning the backhoe. A rear view cam would make it quick.

I love it when a plan comes together. I expect some folks are getting frustrated with their new purchases and expect I will still have some surprises but this is what I bought a SEE for. It beats the heck compared to a Kubota. This one had the harness munched on by a rat and had fuel system issues as well as brake issues but working on it steady taking my time trying to figure out how and why the systems worked the way they did is the way to go. On the other hand anyone expecting to buy a flawless truck out of the box who doesn't do their own work is just asking for a disappointment.
 
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The FLU farm

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Sounds like you had fun, Peakbagger. And lived to tell about it.
I haven't driven more than a couple of miles down the road, but do know what you're talking about. 20 to 25 mph is plenty for me, but more so because of engine rpm than handling issues. And I'm a habitual speeder, who some would say has a death wish when it comes to vehicles.

You mention the poor visibility, which prompted me to put a large spot mirror on the left side and large European style convex mirror on the right side. That way I can see both rear wheels, which helps immensely when backing up. What really helped was removing the spare, but that's probably not an option for you.

The ripper claw bucket sounds like a blessing and a curse. I have the separate ripper tooth, but only tried it once. It was hard to see what it was doing, but it may well have been a complete lack of experience.
What I will do is cut one bucket down. If memory serves me they can be narrowed to 18 inches with relative ease. 12" would be ideal, but that's narrower than the pins and consequently not practical other than for shallow digging in soft soil.
Then again, that's usually what my backhoe is used for. No NH granite here, just river rock, if digging deep enough.

The low fuel consumption is impressive. I rarely run at the full 1,800 rpm, which also helps, but it's not often that the Jerry can needs to come out.
I could start noting how many hours it gets on five gallons, but whatever it wants to drink in return for the work it performs is fine with me.

But I have to ask, why do you need the headlights to be functional? Other than for possible legality reasons, they seem to be utterly useless.
Admittedly, I've never tried them in the dark but unless raising the loader until you look under it, I don't understand how they could work for their intended purpose. The switch under the hood stays in work light position on mine, and with decent LED lights there are useful lumens to be had, for cheap.
 

Bikers33

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Here's the difference between the old and the "new" fan. The latter has a drain, and the motor is larger.
And I did make sure it runs before even removing it from the parts SEE.

In retrospect, it might've been faster to swap in the entire left rear "fender assembly". It would've been costly because of the fluid loss, but the resulting better parts would probably have been worth it. Live and learn.View attachment 634979View attachment 634980
I'm thinking to change mine over to hydraulic motors for the cooling fans, Temperature switch to a solenoid valve.... No more draw on my electrical system. Better longevity.
 

The FLU farm

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Hmm, using heat creating hydraulic motors to cool the hydraulics. I'll have to think about that one.
As long as electric fans are available and affordable, is it worth it?
Longevity? Well, if mine go out every 30 years or so, I can live with that.
Still, your idea intrigues me. Please keep us posted if you decide to try it.

I suppose that I should add that this is from a guy who is about to try running the rear hydraulics in an application they probably were not designed for; continuous full power.
That's to (hopefully) run a fully hydraulic snowblower.
The saving grace might be that, unlike the backhoe, it'll only be used when it's cold.
 
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peakbagger

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Good idea on the mirrors.

Considering that the fan issue is just a design flaw, I think I will stick with the electric fans I bought on Ebay (which by the way worked well yesterday).

I do plan on taking a look at the harness design when General Hood sends out the schematics and expect I may be breaking up parts of the electrical system to a auxiliary fuse box.
 

lurkMcGurk

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Thanks for this. Didn't see it before today even though i've been lurking. I just (03/02/2017)got an FLU419 but the "Kubota" analogy is spot on. L45 Kubota or even comparable JD 110sare 28-32K even six to 10 years old with 2k hours. 45 horse compared to a FLU and 110 hp was a no brainer. Aside from the inherent uniqueness of design and possible upkeep a No Warranty situation easily shifted me over to the FLU. (not to mention, road use, aux hydraulics tools, scaring neighbors and the 15k after upkeep I saved),,,,,long and short thanks far a self confirmation bias post that makes me extra OK with my machinery choice!:doghead:
 

The FLU farm

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Thanks for this. Didn't see it before today even though i've been lurking. I just (03/02/2017)got an FLU419 but the "Kubota" analogy is spot on. L45 Kubota or even comparable JD 110sare 28-32K even six to 10 years old with 2k hours. 45 horse compared to a FLU and 110 hp was a no brainer. Aside from the inherent uniqueness of design and possible upkeep a No Warranty situation easily shifted me over to the FLU. (not to mention, road use, aux hydraulics tools, scaring neighbors and the 15k after upkeep I saved),,,,,long and short thanks far a self confirmation bias post that makes me extra OK with my machinery choice!:doghead:
Welcome, and I hope you got a good SEE. Or at least one that the rats haven't modified too badly. I still cringe when thinking of General Hood's and others descriptions of their wiring wars.
Kubota vs. SEE? Now you got me thinking. Having a couple of each I'm not so sure I'd give up the Kubotas. Especially when it comes to loader work, I'd definitely take the Kubota over the SEE (although that could be because of a lack of operator skills).
On the other hand, I had a 3-point backhoe for the tractor for a short time - not even remotely close to the SEE's Case 580 - and the reason I bought a SEE.
Road use? Funny you mention that, as yesterday General Hood mentioned taking his SEE to the post office (presumably to show off its latest detailing job). That made me take the HMMH to the post office today. Yeah, it was fun, but did reinforce my feelings about FLUs on the road. Not that the tractor would be any better, just quieter and faster.
Does this mean I'm willing to part with my FLUs? You'd have to pry them from my dead hands.
 

peakbagger

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Thanks for this. Didn't see it before today even though i've been lurking. I just (03/02/2017)got an FLU419 but the "Kubota" analogy is spot on. L45 Kubota or even comparable JD 110sare 28-32K even six to 10 years old with 2k hours. 45 horse compared to a FLU and 110 hp was a no brainer. Aside from the inherent uniqueness of design and possible upkeep a No Warranty situation easily shifted me over to the FLU. (not to mention, road use, aux hydraulics tools, scaring neighbors and the 15k after upkeep I saved),,,,,long and short thanks far a self confirmation bias post that makes me extra OK with my machinery choice![/QUOTE

Wow another NNE SEE. SEE specific for northern climates is confirm that the alcohol injection system is functional and that someone didn't foolishly assume that the antifreeze label on some SEEs alchohol tanks meant glycol instead of methanol. Mine isn't functional and I have the parts to switch it to a desicant air dryer but haven't had the time to install. if you are going to use it below freezing make sure you drain the air system when you shut down. Water in the air system is a bad thing. If you haven't done so download the manuals and I uploaded a compilation of the SEE technical service tips from the military in the misc tech manual section of the website. Read the operators manual front to back and have one handy when you are learning how to use it. Napa supposedly stocks replacement ether cartridges. I personally plan to keep mine under a tarp during consistently cold weather.

I attribute some but not all of the squirrelly road handling is primarily the radials selected for off road use versus stiff bias tires. I expect that it could be made more road friendly at the cost of losing its off road functionality (not a trade off I would choose).

I just wish it would fit in my garage. I am seriously looking at jacking my garage up to add enough height to the doors.
 
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