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 Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion

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Dustin M.
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PostSubject: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Sat Nov 14, 2015 10:43 am

Hello All-Terrain Lawn Tractor Community,

This thread will detail the build of my 1986 Craftsman Model No. 917.255732 (11 HP, 5 speed, 38" deck). My current goal in life is to start and complete projects with something that resembles focus. Hopefully posting on this forum will help me stay focused on this project and allow others to prod me when I have not been active.

The desired outcome of this project is a quiet and comfortable tractor that is at home pulling things around in the woods but also has enough capabilities to run the ATV trails while still looking fairly stock.

The design features that support the desired outcome are:
ATV Tires, Wheels and Hubs - a set of tires and wheels from a Yamaha Raptor 90 (tires are all 18" and the wheels are 8" so they do not look gigantic on the tractor like "regular" ATV tires), front hubs with drum brakes from a Eton Viper 90R, rear billet aluminum hubs from BMI Karts.
Full Independent Suspension -  for comfortable woods navigation and proper all-terrain vehicle functionality, double A-arms all around, made of Aluminum due to to reduce unsprung weight and force me to finally become proficient at TIG welding aluminum.
Electric Motor Conversion - keeps it quiet so that I can use it anytime I want without bothering the neighbors and does not disrupt the nature back int the woods, this will be my first "full size" electric vehicle conversion (I have done it on an Associated MGT 1/8 scale nitro monster truck, I also own an all electric Nissan LEAF), dual e-bike hub motors in the frame directly driving out to the wheels with universals, removing the gas engine from the front will give me that space that is needed for the front suspension and steering.

Since this type of project takes some time, it is being broken up to different stages:
Stage 1 - Remove cutting deck and related components, build a custom muffler to quiet the gas engine down, use deck drive pulley for main drive pulley to speed it up a little, get nicer seat, adapt ATV tires to current transaxle and front axle, throttle pedal, maybe lock the transaxle.
Stage 2 - Purchase and test the e-bike hub motors, design the new frame and suspension (with 3D CAD - SolidWorks), get custom adapters machined for the motor to the universal joint.
Stage 3 - Build everything I designed, cut up the tractor, put it all back together.

Here are some pictures of the tractor as received (May 30, 2015) from my neighbor Charlie for the price of moving it from his driveway:







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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Sat Nov 14, 2015 12:43 pm

This seems crazy cool. I have seen a electric racing lawn mower on YouTube and seemed to do ok.

I'm crazy about suspension, and love seeing new ideas. Plenty of people have done front a arms, wether single or double a arm, or from the front frame of a quad. Rear will be interesting, keeping the arms long ish but not having the rear to wide to navigate trails.

Find out what rear end you have, it's probably a foote or peerless 920/930. Peerless 820s are by far the strongest vertical input shaft transaxles, still aluminum case. I'd hate to see a beautiful design wrapped around a axle you'll have to always change because it keeps breaking. Maybe truss it with your aluminum capabilitys.
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:51 pm

When it becomes full suspension, it will also be converted to direct drive electric motor powered, so I will not have to be concerned about flimsy transaxles. We will see if transaxle in it has holds up with a little more speed and a lot more traction with the ATV tires.

I am actually nearing completion with Stage 1 from my original post and will try to catch up to where I am now so the build can be in real time. I thought I should add some legitimacy here in the beginning to what I plan on doing since it seems pretty far fetched on the surface.

Here are some pictures of my first Baja SAE car (#41) that I built in March 2006 when I was in school for Mechanical Engineering. This car was completely spearheaded (I hate this business buzzword, but it is true) by me when I was a 2nd year student with the intent on beating the Senior's Team fancy new car at the competition, which I did by a few places with a team of a few other students that also have never built something like this. This car was built entirely of old "junk" parts from the shop except for new steel tubing for the frame/roll cage.



It sure did jump well with the unmodified horizontal shaft 10 HP Briggs OHV (the competition required engine) a little behind the rear axle.





The next post will have some pictures of my Senior Design Baja SAE car and then back on tractor (see what I did there, ha ha).
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:31 am

Like tge mini baja!
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Dustin M.
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:48 pm

Here is my Senior Design Baja SAE Car that was built during spring 2008 (the year I graduated). This car was a little more designed and planned out hence it went on to go to competitions up until 2012 (that was 4 national and 1 regional where it won first place out of 20 or so cars from the Ohio area). Even though it was a great functioning car, it was jut too heavy for my tastes (550 lbs) since it was designed to comfortably fit 6'3" 200 lb individuals. Both of these cars are no longer with us due to having parts "borrowed" from them until not much is left and then the frame gets scrapped.





These pictures are from the 2nd competition it went to in 2009 in Auburn Alabama.





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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:21 pm

Back to the Craftsman tractor.

It took me until August to finally get the cutting deck off, add a 1/4 bottle of slime to each tire, air them up, and borrow the battery from the Honda HT3813 (the lawn mower that actually mows the lawn).



The brake was not functioning, so that was the first thing to mend before I could put it to work. It took soaking with penetrating oil, waiting, and gingerly tapping and prying; but it came apart, got cleaned up, lubed, and reassembled. Before the brake came off:



The first layers of 30 years of oil grime started to get scrapped off. Yes, that belt was used without issues for the first few months of light usage. This when I learned to not tip the tractor towards the carburetor, it turns out that oil gets out through the carb and leaks on the ground. Then it is no fun to clean out the air filter and get the oil burned out of the float bowl.



First day of usage moving logs from trees I just had cut down.



Since this tractor is destined to become all-terrain the stump grinding mounds needed to be climbed.

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Dustin M.
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:47 pm

October 24, 2015 (I am catching up to the present): While using the Craftsman as my main trailer pulling tractor, the extremely loud nature of it finally got to me. The perforated tube was just rattling around inside the can.


I figured it was time to build a muffler using the stainless pot scrubber method I read about somewhere. The pot scrubbers were not as open as I would like, but were the only kind available when I had my wife pick them up when she was at the store.


The pot scrubbers ended up spreading out ok.


The only hi-temp paint I had was GM Blue so that what happened. A little over spray occurred when I touched it up after installing.


It did not get as quiet as I was hoping for, but there are still things to move, this time 1972 Honda CL350 parts without a title.


First deep woods romp to the back of my property. The few pictures I took were all a little blurry, sorry.


Next up is the engine pulley modification which I have not yet tested, but it looks good and should work fine.
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Muddy Sunday
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:38 pm

I like the muffler idea. Ive been wanting a more stock exhaust on my mower to replace the straight pipe exhaust I currently have. Cool tractor too ive always wanted a square body craftsman.
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:07 pm

Nice, Liking the muffler modification! Can't wait to see how the suspension works out
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Thu Nov 26, 2015 1:32 pm

Muddy Sunday wrote:
I like the muffler idea. Ive been wanting a more stock exhaust on my mower to replace the straight pipe exhaust I currently have. Cool tractor too ive always wanted a square body craftsman.

MatthewD wrote:
Nice, Liking the muffler modification! Can't wait to see how the suspension works out

Thanks guys, I am glad you like the muffler. A lifetime of dealing with the police for loud mini bikes, cars and trucks will make you like things that are quiet, plus I do not want to annoy my older neighbors with whom I am friends with. I like my machines silent, but deadly!

Here is the next step to make the gas engine quieter:


When I was looking for a lawn tractor when I bought my house a few years ago, I was sure I was going to end up with an 80s square body Craftsman, but an old work friend called me up and offered to sell me his Honda HT3813 for cheap so that was that. The Honda is absolutely amazing as a lawn tractor with its inline liquid cooled (which makes it quieter) 2-cylinder and clutch dampener for smooth gear engagements.

I was over talking with my neighbor Charlie this spring and he mentioned that he was going to get rid of his lawn tractor because it was a hunk of crap (the Craftsman). I never saw it much because it only sat in his driveway under a small tarp. As soon as he said the price was free, we put air in the airs and drug it next to my sharn (shed-barn).

My "new" front shocks came in earlier this week, I am no where close to getting them on the tractor. The sad part is that the long 18.4" shocks will fit just fine in the front because of the tall hood, but the rears will have to be shorter due to the low seat and rear fenders. The full suspension components are currently being purchased so that they can be 3D modeled and the suspension designed.

Here is a teaser of front shocks:
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:37 pm

Time for the deck pulley to become the engine pulley and make this thing slightly quicker. This happened back in November 2015.

Yank the pulley off:


Put on your PPE (personal protective equipment) when getting ready to do a large amount of grinding:


Separate the old engine pulley from the deck pulley (soon to be new engine pulley):


Carefully cut away the old engine pulley:


Mount the center section of the engine pulley to a piece of threaded rod using nylon locking nuts to mostly center the center section due to the nylon locking nuts having a small rounded top part that fits in the mount hole. Chuck up the thing in a drill and smooth it out with the bench grinder until it fits nicely in the deck pulley bore:

Throw four small weld beads on there to keep the "new" pulley from falling off. It was not fully welded to facilitate easier removal in case I ever put something different on there:


Take a nice picture in the fall sun on a log after giving it a coat of clear paint:


Slop the pulley back on the engine shaft with a little Loctite on the bolt. Loctite'ing every bolt and nut (that is not cotter pinned, safety wired, or nylon lock nutted) is a good habit from building the SAE Baja cars. Things coming loose during a race does not help to make laps or keep you moving out on the trail!:


This is the belt I purchased from Amazon for $19.99. I believe the stock size is 90". This 2" longer belt seems to work good:


The tractor is still pretty slow, but good enough for going through the woods and hauling stuff around. The clutch arm needs to be moved back an inch or so that the parking brake can function again. Currently the clutch pulley can hit the engine pulley if it is pushed in decently hard, it does not hurt anything, but it is not proper and makes a metal-on-metal scary noise.
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:50 pm

Hi, Have you got any more updates on yer Craftsman
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:57 pm

Should have a nice stance after adding the rear suspension to it. To quiet down the motor, you need to run it through a big box, that slows down the exhaust. Then put the packing in the box, since the exhaust is slower, the packing will absorb more sound.
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:39 pm

Here are some current pictures of the Craftsman tractor. We have not had much snow here in Ohio this winter. So when we got a bit of a snow storm on March 14th, I had to get the tractor out for it's first test in the snow (which I should have done months ago). It did rather well with the OEM Yamaha Raptor 90 wheels and tires with open diff. Bonus points for knowing what the orange 2-door hatchback is tucked behind the tractor!









The loudness of the internal combustion engine out in the peaceful snow, has really kicked me into gear to get this thing converted to electric. I am currently testing and building my battery pack and pretty much know the motor I will use.

Thanks for the tip about the making a quieter muffler @prancstaman, but my days of fiddling with engines are numbered. The tractor actually has a small additional muffler on it currently and it is not too offensively loud.

Current completed modifications to hopefully cover before getting into the electrification: replacing the Briggs starter's melted brush holder with one from a Tecumseh starter, the hubs I used to adapt the ATV wheels and tires, LED lights that fit in the stock sockets and housings, rehabilitation of the scavenged red trimmed Craftsman seat, and switching the starter battery to using RC car lithium polymer (lipo) batteries!
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:42 pm

That there orange hatch looks to either be a Yugo, Mk1 Golf, or a Mk1 Fiesta.
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:41 pm

Ah.. that belt still has some life in it! rabbit

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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:52 pm

Dustin M. wrote:
My current goal in life is to start and complete projects with something that resembles focus.

What's this thing you call a "completed project"? lol, looking good tho. Nice mini buggy and muffler mods!
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:03 pm

CraftsmanQuad19 wrote:
That there orange hatch looks to either be a Yugo, Mk1 Golf, or a Mk1 Fiesta.

No dice, good guesses but all front wheel drive, I stick to rear wheel drive only! I will hold out the suspense a little longer before I let the cat out of the proverbial bag.

mightyraze wrote:
Ah.. that belt still has some life in it! rabbit

I am assuming you are talking about the the old cracked original one. I would have like to have seen how long it would have held out, it is still hanging around. I might keep it forever hanging on the wall in remembrance of the beginning of the Craftsman!
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Lawren Wimberly
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:05 pm

chevy chevette
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Fri Mar 24, 2017 7:41 pm

pinto?
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:08 pm

I agree with Lawren.  Maybe a 76 chevette?

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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:17 pm

yeah i just looked on google. i dont think its a pinto... definitely chevy chevette
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:30 pm

Chevette or possibly an AMC Gremlin?
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:55 pm

LOL, lost my virginity in a similar car... a LOOOOOOng time ago
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PostSubject: Re: Dustin's 1986 Craftsman Woods Tractor - Full Suspension, Electric Conversion   Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:38 am

I don't know if I have done this before but...


HAHA.

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