I went outside today with the intention of mowing the front yard (hasn't been done in 2.5 weeks) and a bit of the remainder of the lawn and then switching to "loader mode" to move log-length firewood in preparation for splitting. Well, that didn't work out as planned.
I got everything started up and made two passes around the front yard. On the third pass, I noticed a pretty deep "cut" into my lawn where I made the previous pass and thought I was dragging something. Stopped immediately and looked around, under, behind, etc. but didn't immediately see anything. I keep looking and finally realized that there was definitely something hanging out of the back side of the machine. I shut down the mower deck and then shut off the machine entirely. Walking around the back of the machine, I saw a fairly mangled looking piece of metal and realized immediately that it had come off of the rear part of the mechanical lift for the deck.
As far as the mower and the grass go, all I can say is "thank goodness for gauge wheels!"
After untwisting it from the tractor, this is ultimately what I was left with:
Notice how one of the arms is bent and twisted with the slotted portion being collapsed in on itself in one section. This open slot is required to allow the connector to slip front-to-back as the connecting point on the 3PH moves and to allow the 3PH to drop below the height where the gauge wheels support the deck. Being squeezed together like that would restrict the pin from sliding correctly.
There's a pin that slips through the front portion (the part that ISN'T wrecked) and is held in place by a cotter pin. That $.10 piece of junk sheared completely off and the shanks were still in the pin! The pin walked its way out just far enough for the bracket to fall off of the lift arms then proceeded to jam straight into the ground and then come around behind the machine. It twisted the snot out of the arms that mount to the rear portion, but the pin was still inserted in one side of the front inner arm.
Here's the pin showing the cotter pin sheared off:
You can still see the shanks of the cotter pin inside the pin itself.
I ended up prying the bent arm back in line with the other one then using one of my fork tines like a ream to open the slotted portion back up correctly (banging the bulging parts back in place with an 8 lb sledge). Surprisingly, it came out reasonably ok in terms of still being usable. After buying a new cotter pin (heavier than the one that was installed in there before) and new washers for the rear pins, I had the machine back up and running and finished up all of my cutting.
Here's the arm after all of my bending and hammering:
I am still going to have to replace that arm because it will just bug me if I don't. The tapered forks on my Artillian fork set worked out in a fantastic way to get me back up and running on this Sunday when there was no place to go to buy replacement parts.