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He Overhauls Hydraulics On Antique Deere Tractors
If your antique John Deere needs its hydraulics repaired or overhauled, Gary McLaughlin can probably do it. Growing up on a farm, he learned welding and hydraulics repair from his dad. Today the director of maintenance at an aircraft company uses some of his dad's vintage metal lathes to repair and rebuild vintage hydraulic systems on evenings and weekends.
"I work on anything Deere built between 1934 and 1960," says McLaughlin. "I specialize in hydraulics, but also do custom machining."
He does repair and overhaul for Deere Power-Trol, Custom Power-Trol, Power Lift valves, Rockshaft control valves and Touch-O-Matic systems. He also consults with others who are restoring or repairing hydraulics and gives seminars at antique shows and gatherings.
McLaughlin got interested in the Deere Power-Trol when he restored a 1951 B that had been sitting in the weeds. Soon he was working on hydraulics systems for others. In 2006 he decided to get serious about the hobby and started MACfabrications.
"It took me about a year to build the tooling, develop the documentation and get the training I needed," says McLaughlin. "Now you can send me what you have, and I'll rebuild it back into what Deere installed originally. I test every part with a hydraulic mule and have just finished a test stand that will drive remote pumps."
Knowing what to do sometimes means knowing when and when not to follow the repair manual. McLaughlin says that Touch-O-Matics are challenging and require following the manual word for word. However, in one case the manual says to install a seal backwards.
"In that case, if you follow the manual the seal will leak like a sieve," he says.
When faced with an unavailable or extremely expensive part, McLaughlin finds an alternative or makes his own. "A customer asked me to make some selector valves," he recalls. "Deere wanted $289 for each of the 20 left in private stock. I bought the tooling, reverse engineered the part, and started making them. I pretty much break even on the $150 I charge for a selector valve assembly."
When a customer sent McLaughlin a worn (and no longer available) pto shaft for an R, he figured out how to remachine it. First he under cut it, and then he shipped it to a company that put a hard chrome layer on the entire shaft. Hard chroming, he says, is an industrial process that's like applying a weld without heat.
"When I got it back, I ground it back into tolerance," says McLaughlin.
In addition to his hourly rate for custom jobs, McLaughlin has set rates for cleaning, disassembly, inspection, reassembly, leak checking and setting pressure on common systems. He charges $250 for Power-Trols and Power Lifts and $175 for Rockshaft control valves. Overhauls of Dashpot relief valves are $50 and pressure settings of them are $25.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, MACfabrications, 241 North Lane, Granville, Mass. 01034 (ph 413 357-9098; 51jdmack@comcast.net; www.macfabrications.com).

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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #5