Sweepster Rotary Broom - rebuild and modification

pmsmechanic

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I think a good paint job beats powder coating in your situation. From what I understand powder coating traps moisture behind the paint causing rusting issues later on.
 
  
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I've had very good luck with the local powder coat guy. He sandblasts, phosphate dip and then powder coats. Seems to hold up great. I can barely manage these parts due to the size as I really don't have any lifting equipment other than the tractor so these things are a total PITA to handle. I wish I had planned for a bridge crane in the shop when I built it... The PC dude has forklifts and everything to handle large stuff. Now that I have welded the frame to the SSQA plate, there is no way I could get it off the table. 2 guys probably could OK, but I plan on using the tractor and sliding it onto a pallet. Just flipping it over for welding was an adventure...
 
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The structural stuff is now basically done. I got the upper support figured out and in place tonight. That mainly leaves figuring out how to attach the tank to the frame and same for the diverter. The diverter is mostly a "where" question as I have a mount for it, and I just need to pin down where exactly I am going to weld it on the upper support. It looks like it is very close to allowing a stock 12" hose to reach from the diverter to the relief valve, but it would be best to find out for sure and not end up 1/4" short...

Here's the upper brace

Upper support done (1) (Large).jpg
Upper support done (2) (Large).jpg


And where the diverter is going to be located, approximately

Diverter position (Large).jpg


Hopefully wrap it up this weekend and be ready to bring in for powder coat.
 
  
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Almost there.... I got the tank mounting all figured out and complete. Some pics below. I had to add an additional bracket next to the upright to screw to as I could not get into that tight space otherwise. Just a heavy piece of angle welded right next to the frame upright with a hole drilled and tapped for the final mounting bracket.

Here's the tank with completed brackets
Tank mounting (1) (Large).jpg
Tank mounting (2) (Large).jpg


And the tank mounted in place.

Here is the additional center mount bracket, buried back in there. I had to slot the hole to fit as this was the last one I did, so it was kind of "make to fit". You can see the slot if you zoom in near the bottom of the tank on the right.
Tank mounting (3) (Large).jpg
Tank mounting (4) (Large).jpg


Views from the back:
Tank mounting (5) (Large).jpg
Tank mounting (6) (Large).jpg


All that is left now is to weld on the mounting bracket for the diverter on the channel sticking out the center. I have a hose coming for that and want to wait for it so I can be sure everything will fit before I weld it in, so later this week that final 5 min of welding will be done.

Almost there!
 
  
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I had a delay (again...) in that some lumber I was waiting for to finish out my house build finally became available (thanks, Covid), so I had to make a run for that. It took a full week to get that sorted out and fully in place. But I got time today to get back to it.

First up is I needed to make a bracket to hold the crossover check valve on top of the main sweeper shroud. I decided that running hoses was going to be much easier than trying to reinstall the hard pipes they had used at the factory, so it made the most sense to use the check valve as the mounting point. Here are some shots of that. Made from a piece of alum bar 1" x 4" x 2.5" or so.



Check Valve mount (4) (Large).jpg
Check Valve mount (3) (Large).jpg


The bottom half is threaded so i will run the bolts up through the shroud to secure the bottom to the shroud, then the upper half is clearance holes, so I will run down nuts on the 2 bolts sticking through to clamp the check valve. Here is what i am getting at:

Check Valve mount (1) (Large).jpg
Check Valve mount (2) (Large).jpg


And the diverter mount is now welded in. Some pics of before and after (the clamp being present means it is before).

Diverter final position (1) (Large).jpg
Diverter final position (2) (Large).jpg


And this one shows the pressure gage setup I created to help debug and check this out. It would be in place temporarily to see what is going on prior to real use. It also shows the diverter mounting plate welded in place.

Diverter final position (3) (Large).jpg


I will load this all up in the PU tomorrow and get it to the powder coater this week sometime. Mon looks bad, but maybe tues. I can manage most parts but the frame is now too heavy to lift solo. I will need to use the tractor, maybe with the forks to handle that.
 
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I think a good paint job beats powder coating in your situation. From what I understand powder coating traps moisture behind the paint causing rusting issues later on.
If the powder company doesn't properly clean and coat, it rusts underneath or falls off as you state. That coating is only as good as the applicator.
 
  
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dstig1

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This guy has been running a powder coat business for probably 20 years here now and he does excellent work, and is very reasonable on cost too. He will fully sandblast then phosphate dip and then PC. Many PC places will not work on anything but new steel, so it is great that he is willing to do all that he does. I got it all loaded in the truck and now just need to find time to drop it off this week.
 
  
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dstig1

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I dropped off the parts for powder coat almost 2 weeks ago. They got them sandblasted, phosphate dipped and coated in 2 days...but I could not pick up until the next week. Then I needed help unloading so had to wait for that, and life got busy so i finally got back to this today to get it reassembled and moving forward.

I got all the main structural stuff reassembled and some other bits. Here is the main shroud/frame assembly. You can see I had to come up with a temporary limit chain to hang the shroud head from pivot down into the ground so I could move it. That is the last main structural thing to do - I need float springs and some chain to hang/adjust the head. But I'm not quite sure what to use as it looks like most plow springs are too big. These are shown in the manual as being 1-7/8" dia and about 10.25" long (no wire diameter listed) and plow springs are ~15" and in the 2-3" dia range so possibly too long and too beefy.

Final Main assembly with hang chain.jpg


And then I got a lot of the rest of the components in place

Final main assembly.jpg


Still need to build up the broom core. I forgot to clean up and paint the hydraulic motor, so that is holding it up now (waiting for paint to dry - will take a couple days to finish) as the motor has to go inside the core first. The motor is kind of the last big question as to if it is good or not as I had no way to test it. If not, that is going to be a painful fix or replacement... Hopefully I can get the chain and springs sorted out quickly and then move onto getting the final hoses figured out. There is a little bit of wiring to do too, but that is pretty minor.

Hoping to make good progress this week while I am off for thanksgiving!
 
  
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Been working on the wiring for the diverter. I found an unused plug that has 12v switched with the key right where I needed it (is a connector for brake lights, which I guess are required in some places, but apparently not the US). Found a leftover mounting stud for ground also under the dash, and got a hole drilled for the angle switch. Got that stuff wired up and the wire poked out of the cab near the loader hydraulic connections. I need to get stuff for a plug there so i can split off the loader without having to do something like un-wire the entire thing to take the loader off.

I also made this bracket from some leftover 14ga SS and used the top hydraulic bulkhead fitting to secure it, and bent the lower ends in to act as anti-rotation features. You will connect the plug from the sweeper to this outlet to control the diverter and thus the angle function. Coupla pics:

Electric bracket (1).jpg
Electric bracket (2).jpg


I made the bracket for the 3rd function remotes back in 2013 when I got the tractor and plumbed in all the 3rd function stuff. This piece just sticks on the top of it.

Not much else to show about wiring. Hoping to wrap that up tomorrow and may take a couple pics
 
  
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dstig1

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Thanks, Mike! And Happy Thanksgiving all! 🦃

More progress. Got the wiring almost done, but still looking for a weatherpack connector to disconnect this to be able to split the loader from the tractor. I'll try Napa tomorrow as I have got them there in the past.

Lots of minor details addressed but the big one was getting the broom core and motor assembled. They said it took 41 broom wafer sections, and that is what they sent but I could only get 39 on it, following their directions. I'll see if it "settles in" or something and I still have the extra 2. Adding them on later will be very painful, no doubt, but I just don't see how they would fit. But the big item was to make sure you put the carriage bolts into the motor mount thingy BEFORE you mounted the motor to the core as there is no way in hades to put them in once you bolt on the motor shaft to the core. It would kill probably 2-3 hrs to take that all apart and reassemble again if you forgot. I remembered! (you can see them in the left picture sticking out below the motor)

Broom assembled (1).jpg
Broom assembled (2).jpg


The only way I can figure to mount it to the frame is to drive the tractor up to it and use the loader to angle/adjust the sweeper frame until I can connect it up. I'm guessing that will be fun... Getting closer!
 
  
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Got the broom mounted with the help of a neighbor to guide the tractor/loader into place to pick it off the jack stands. Then ran into a snag. I am now seeing that I should have put this together prior to powder coating and tested everything out. I guess I Ass-U-Med that being a commercial product I would not have to do anything new with the parts I reused without changing, but now I am seeing that this thing would greatly benefit from a hard stop so that the broom can't tip back too far. That would have been fairly easy to fab and weld on before, but now not so much. So here's a couple pics


Broom in frame (1).jpg


And herein (below) lies the problem I see now. With the loader sitting on the ground, the broom bristles push the head back at a fairly decent angle, to the point where the pin for the angle cyl (circled in green) almost touches the shroud. I can see a dent from where some PO did that. If I could come up with a heavy duty hard stop in the center where the purple arrow is pointing, that might help, but I wish I had tried all this earlier as there are a couple other details that I would have like to improve, if I knew better.

The hoses in red from the check valve spin-down loop to the motor are easy enough as nothing much changes there, but the blue hoses are a problem. The one on the left is a very short path as shown here and I am not sure if I can loop hoses enough to make it work if the head is allowed to angle back this much. So I may need to pause here and see if I can come up with a solution for that first. I'll get some time to play with it tomorrow more and see what my options are.

Broom in frame (2) - Copy.jpg


Oh yeah, and powder coat on the cylinder pins is waaaay too thick to alow the cyl ends to slide on, so that has to get wired wheeled off too... Yippee. I should have guessed that and masked them off. I ran into the same issue with the bearing on the free end of the broom core. I started on removing the paint here, as you may be able to see if you zoom in.
 
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Holy Heap O' Hoses, Batman!!!

Yes, the hoses arrived and I got it all plumbed today. It appears all my lengths will work out just fine. I can raise the loader up quite a ways without any risk of the hoses to the pump going taught, and way more than I would ever want to raise it with the broom on anyways.

Haven't filled it yet and still waiting for the float springs to arrive so I can finish it off. But here's what it looks like now. That first photo is missing a couple of the return lines, but the rest were after completion.

Sweeper hyd hoses installed (1).jpg
Sweeper hyd hoses installed (2).jpg


Sweeper hyd hoses installed (3).jpg
Sweeper hyd hoses installed (4).jpg


Sweeper hyd hoses installed (5).jpg
Sweeper hyd hoses installed (6).jpg


Sweeper hyd hoses installed (7).jpg
 
  
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Almost there! Springs showed up yesterday. Only had enough time today to make these little keepers to stop the springs and chains from falling off when you release tension on them. Just a little leftover 1/2" DOM tubing that I drilled out the inside diameter a bit more and cross drilled for a 10-32 set screw. No real stress on them but I will probably add some loctite to keep them from loosening over time. Got them painted and tomorrow should be it for getting the final assembly done and filling it and giving it a trial! Fingers crossed that the hyd motor is good as this will be the first time it has been run in many years, as best I can tell...

Spring Keepers.jpg
 
  
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Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!
Houston We Have Liftoff!
It works! Woot! Woot!


I got the springs sorted out and in place, then filled it up (I need a better pump than the little plastic hand piston pump I have - took forever). Started it up at idle speed and after a few seconds for the fluid to work through it spun a little. Shut it off and checked it over, then tried it again and it was spinning! The wrong way! Arrgh. Not sure if I read the motor specs wrong or what but I was able to swap the 2 hoses to the motor around and didn't make a horrible mess like I was expecting. That worked and I slowly ran the speed up without issue. At least I managed to get the angle directions correct. 1 out of 2 ain't bad for mostly guessing...

We had a dusting of snow overnight, so I went out to give it a spin (pun intended). It throws snow great! The only thing I found is that you need to keep it in the sweet spot for contact. Too much down with the FEL and it stalls the broom/motor. So you need to keep your hand on the joystick to adjust slightly as you go, but not bad. This does make me wonder if this is normal or if perhaps the motor is worn out or something like that. For now, I will live with it and look into it to see what i can find in the manual under troubleshooting.

No video yet as it was dark and I wasn't set up for it. I will get some video when I get a chance and post it here. Final pic of the springs in place below. Only thing left to do is some better support for the hoses. I just used a rope to keep them off the ground for now.

Ran for about 30 min blowing off the snow and noticed the snow spray was "steaming" off the tank, so I decided to stop and check temps. IR gun had the tank at 120-130ish so no problem there. I guess snow spray just steams off real easy. I will continue to monitor temps for now until I have a good idea how it is going. I pretty much had it running the whole time too, rather than stopping and starting it many times.

What a relief that is to have it done and working!

Sweeper Complete with springs.jpg
 
  
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Thanks Mike! I used it for one more small snowfall the other day. Still getting used to it. Tank temps maxed out around 140-145 so still fine. It was a longer run, so not too surprising it was warmer. Still keeping an eye on it for now.
 

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It works! Woot! Woot!
Dave,
Excellent work! it will serve you well for many years.
a couple of things I can tell you about those brooms & wafers in case you don't already know.
1. It is common to put 2 wafers on each end with the center ring matching not 90* like the rest of them are stacked.
2. Don't park the broom with down pressure on the bristles it will cause them to take a permanent set & cause it to hop as it rotates.
3. Ideal contact patch of 2" to 4" is best.
Any questions please ask.
Again excellent work!

Bill
 
  
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Thanks, Bill. I followed the instructions from Sweepster on building the core and they did not mention to put 2 on the ends. I have 2 left over so maybe that would have worked, but no way I am going to take it apart for that now.
I still haven't figured out the float to get ti to sit right without having to adjust it constantly, but I am working with it for now.

I did make a pair of simple stands to keep the brush off the ground. I don't see why the stands are optional with this. If you can't set it on the brush, you NEED some sort of stand to hold it up. Doesn't make sense to me...

Sweeper stand.jpg
 
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Dave- wonderful build series! Thanks for documenting what you did, and how you thought about doing it. Did you ever consider a diverted for spinning in reverse?

How did it work for you this winter?

All the best,

Peter
 
  
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Thanks, Peter. No, I did not consider having a need to spin it in reverse. I suppose if it was critical for some reason, I could just swap hoses, even if just for a couple minutes, like if something got wound up and needed to get unwound. I don't see a general need otherwise. It does actually have a diverter on it already but that is for the angle cylinder only.

It worked well overall. Best on smaller snowfalls, which was almost all of what we had this winter, and is most common here. Most snowfalls were 2-4" and even wet snow was not a problem at those depths. We had a couple big dumps including one late in the season when the snowbanks had built up a fair bit and I tried but found the broom not very useful, so I put the bucket on for that one, and used the bucket and rear blade.

The biggest issue I had by far was maintaining good ground/broom contact. As the angle of the ground changes you either start to lose contact or you get so much that it stalls the broom, so you are constantly adjusting the FEL joystick up and down in very tiny increments, and the control is just not that precise. This is why I am in the process of making a set of gage wheels for it. I am going adjustable whereas the factory makes a fixed set as an option I thought I had it figured out but my first trial showed them to be too short, so I got out the "steel stretcher" ;) and am adding a few inches to each side now. Once it is done I'll post up pics and details here.

Now I need to make a storage dolly for the off season!
 
  
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Allright, finally time to update this. By the time I had time and got around to working on Casters to help guide the broom depth better, the season was done. No biggie as it will help next year in any case. So I put them in about the same place as the factory option but made mine adjustable and mounted them differently. I ran into some issues along the way...

First off, my CAD model of the broom was made with a tape measure and eyeball and apparently not very accurate. Not terribly surprising but the first iteration came in too short to do any good. This is interesting as the factory option would be even shorter. I think it has something to do with how this is mounted on the SSQA plate and the loader geometry being different than a skid steer. The only way to get the casters to make ground contact required rolling it back too much so the "feet" on the loader would be dragging. Well that wouldn't work so I extended them.

Here is the initial design. The adjustment is 2" hitch stock inside 2.5" receiver stock with a 3/4" Acme screw for the adjuster.

Casters fab done (1).jpg
Casters fab done (2).jpg
Casters fab done (3).jpg
Casters fab done (4).jpg


That little wood stand you see the broom sitting on later becomes part of my storage dolly. But like I said this was too short, so I extended it. Unlike wood and the mythical board stretcher, there is such a thing as a steel tube stretcher! And here it is!

Caster extension.jpg


After welding that out and grinding flush, they were ready to go. Yes, the joints were beveled fully to allow full penetration welds.

So here it is extended in the trial run. It appear to help but is not a perfect solution. But anything that makes controlling the height adjusting better is very welcome given how touchy it was to do manually. I also tweaked how the float springs worked by shortening the chain a bit to help the casters be more effective

Casters with extra extension.jpg


Oh yeah, I also made a little retainer to keep the adjuster screw from moving once I get it set right. The tape was just temporary to keep the loose pin in place while I was sorting things out:

Caster adjustment lock.jpg
 
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Now the storage dolly. I scratched my head a while on this and this is what fell out. it seems to work, but I might need a couple more casters under the SSQA plate as most of the weight appears to be there and I think it could use extra support. I won't deal with that until I re-mount it to the tractor next winter. Some photos of it, plus the caster mounts fully painted, plus all tucked away in the back:

Sweeper dolly (1) (Large).jpgSweeper dolly (2) (Large).jpgSweeper dolly (3) (Large).jpgSweeper dolly (4) (Large).jpgSweeper dolly (5) (Large).jpg

The 2 supports on the side are what was holding the broom off the ground when mounted on the tractor. 2 screws hold them onto the dolly so I can pull them and use them the same way again next winter.

Hopefully that is it for the mods and it will now work well for the remainder of my days! (yeah right...)
 

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Thanks for the update, mobile carts a great idea, Job Well Done!

Mike
 
  
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Thanks guys. This thing takes up a lot of space so i had to move things around to make a home for it, thus making the dolly pretty important. Fortunately the forks slide right under it too (that was my plan from the start...)

The casters are pretty similar to what the factory option uses, so I guess I expect them to hold up similarly. They are 8" rubber over cast iron, full swivel. I guess time will tell... Worst case they are easy to replace and were like $25-30 ea from Surplus Center so not real bad.

I don't expect I will need the adjustability long term as once I find the sweet spot, they will probably stay there for life, or maybe get adjusted if the broom ever wears down a lot, but with just residential use at my place, that seems unlikely to me.
 

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Again, great set of builds!

On the factory wheel height: SSQA tend to operate with the loader arms all the way down, locked down against the chassis, making for a very rigid mounting. If the sweeper is that low at the back, it looks to me as if you could compensate by moving the "Z" shaped bracket near the motor to a different hole, which might explain how the factory casters function. Pure speculation on my part.

I just got my own new to me broom running, and I am curious how you deal with road slope/camber. Do you angle the broom and adjust the height to compensate?

All the best, Peter
 
  
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Yeah, I figured it might be the different geometry between a tractor FEL and a skid steer that was the issue, but fortunately when you "Build it Yourself" you can make it work for any setup!

I used the angle function a lot at first but found that it was not as helpful as I expected. There are still times when i do use it, but a lot of my brooming is pretty much straight ahead and it works great. Certain sections of my driveway are best approached from one direction over the other due to slope/camber. It does not really float much side to side so it is easy to leave snow on one side in those cases. Often just coming at it from the opposite direction helps. I am hoping that the casters help me from the constant adjusting I have had to do so far to maintain contact while avoiding stalling the broom. I know it won't eliminate it, but am hoping it reduces it.
 
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ponytug

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Thanks, that helps a lot. I have draft control, which really helps control the height and down force, though the weight of the broom, as far out as it is, is pushing the limit of my draft controller.

All the best,

Peter
 
 
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