Why to never run out of gas

   / Why to never run out of gas #1  


Jul 18, 2016
Fort Dodge, Iowa
PT 425
Found out the hard way why I should never run out of gas. I was building a small road with a switchback near the ravine in back of our daylight basement and ran out driving down toward the switchback. I am afraid I panicked when the 425 ran out of gas and immediately started coasting downhill toward a cliff at the edge of the ravine. I just rode it out until I hit a small pile of dirt with the bucket and it stopped me. If I was smart, I would have just pushed the joystick forward and it would have stopped much sooner. I'm not sure if I would have had the time to engage the parking brake but since I cuss at it every time I use it, that didn't even enter my mind.
A valuable lesson learned here. It scared the **** out of me.....

I have been slowly trying to move hundreds of yards of dirt from piles left my the excavator that dug out the basement and contoured the back of where the house will be. I am putting the piles of tan clay along one of the ravines on the west side of the cleared lot to open it up some. It is a slow process with so many trees along the edge. My son cleared out about 20 feet of steep grade along the edge with the chain saw and left some bigger stuff that I wrapped with orange marking tape and then I run back and forth with loads of the clay soil and methodically dump the loads, smash them down some and return to build up back toward the grassy clearing. Had to have a local farmer help me the other day when my front tires melted into some wet clay and got me high centered. After trying to dig it out 3 or 4 times, I finally gave up and fetched him to drive my 4x4 pickup and snatch it out with some heavy rope. Only snapped it twice :).

I have put 35 hours on it the last few weeks and it is doing great. My only complaint is that I lose power and the engine dies a lot of times when I am trying to press forward with the bucket.... not enough power so I really have to be careful to take as small of bites as possible when pressing forward with some of my digging jobs.

A few questions I have is in regards to the 425.... How often do I change the hydraulic filter out. I have done it once at 50 hours (have 85 now), also the Robin motor oil and filter change... I did it at 25 and 50 hours. Finally, my son gave me a can of silicone spray to spray down the hydraulic pistons and ball joints but I somehow think that this should be a spray lube. Terry told us to get some when we picked it up last year but didn't really give brand name. When I use the silicone, all the joints seem to creak and groan for a few hours after I spray them down. Any advice would be appreciated.
   / Why to never run out of gas #2  
How many hours do you have on the tractor? In general, closed loop hydraulic systems should not "free wheel" like you describe. For the tractor to roll, hydraulic fluid has to "get by" the internal tolerances of the pump and wheel motors. I'm not saying they won't roll at all...they will. But, usually, it's slow unless you're on a very steep hill with hot hydraulic fluid...which may be the case in your situation. Also, you can still steer the tractor with the engine off. It's hard and not something I'd recommend you regularly do (puts a lot of pressure on the steering mechanism) but it's better than going off a cliff.

Regarding the stalling...make sure you are running the engine at full RPM's and you're applying only a little treadle pressure. If the engine is stalling, it's likely you are applying to much treadle. A little treadle gives the most torque (push power)...a lot of treadle gives the most speed but low torque (i.e., will stall the engine when too much resistance is met). Think of it like gears in a car. Too much treadle pressure is high gear.

Most of the time, the wheels will not spin...in case that's what you expect. The wheel motors in the 425 are sized more for speed than torque. Also, it's very helpful to use something like the potato plow to loosen the dirt before you use the bucket. You may want to consider adding some teeth to the bucket.

Change the hydraulic filter at 50 hours. Don't know about the engine but I always do both at the same time. Don't use silicon spray...it will attract dirt and cause more damage than good. Especially, don't spray the steering rods. Terry's talking a dry lubricant like PTFE (teflon) or even graphite. I don't spray my steering cylinders. Those ball joints have a large surface area for a "bearing" are are very durable. I will spray the lifting arm ball joints because they attract less dirt and are under more pressure.
   / Why to never run out of gas #3  
I'm glad you are OK. I'm surprised it rolled when it lost power. I can't move mine on flat land with the engine off. I have to open the by-pass ports and install my bypass hose to roll it (some don't require a hose). I've always assumed it would slow down on a slope if I lost power. Now I'm gonna have to go to a hill with a safe outcome. Kill the engine, and see what happens. If anything, it'll give me a lesson I should have learned 17 years ago. Did you try centering the treadle when the engine died?

Wait a minute.... your unit has a hydraulic treadle, doesn't it? Mine has a cable operated treadle. If you lost power, you lost pressure, you may have not been able to operate the treadle. Don't know if that makes a difference, if your treadle auto-centers with loss of pressure, etc... Now I'll really have to do the test and let you know how it goes. It'll be a few weeks before I'm near a hill.

As for the hydraulic filter, we're supposed to change it every 50 hours of operation, and top off the hydraulic tank, since the filter holds almost a quart. Then bleed the hydraulics before starting the engine.

Every 8 hours of operation, we're supposed to grease the zerks and spray the balls. I've used spray lithium grease, and I've used Super Lube which (I think) has teflon in it (PTFE). Either one stops the squeaks pretty much instantly. I like the spray lithium because it's white grease and I can see where I spray it, but the Super Lube penetrates bettere, I believe. The lithium sticks. The Super Lube soaks in. I kind of alternate, depending on what I grab first.


Mine has zerks on:
- Two on the loader roll-over bar in the middle of the FEL arms.
- Three on the treadle assembly.
- Two on the top-link end joints under the center tunnel covers.
- One under the bottom center joint.

The balls are:
- Two where the FEL connects to the frame.
- Two where the quick attach connects to the FEL arms.
- Two on the QA cylinder ends.
- Four on the lift cylinder ends.
- Two on the dump/curl cylinder ends.
- Four on the steering ram ends.

That's all I recall.
I also lube the seat mount rotation points and the engine cover hinges once in a while.

Don't know how often you change your engine filter. I change mine and the oil once a year, as I only do about 50 hours per year.
   / Why to never run out of gas
  • Thread Starter
Thanks Marrt and MossRoad. I have just 85 hours on the machine. It was a steep slope, hydraulic fluid was hot (had been running for a few hours). It wasn't in a complete freewheel mode like coasting downhill on a bike (there was some resistance) but not much. I'm a little embarrassed because I did go into complete panick mode. I believe I did try to steer to the right but I don't recall it responding much although I did notice it turned slightly the next day when I gassed it up but I figured that was done just prior to the engine dying so I could prepare for the curve coming up.
Should I limit my digging sprees to an hour at a time or so and let it cool some. Has anyone rigged up a temperature guage to their 25 hp engine and or hydraulic tank?
   / Why to never run out of gas #5  
Many years ago, I ran the machine out of gas. I have several 6 gallon cans, and a 1 gallon can. I put exactly 1 gallon into the PT's tank and marked it with permanent marker. Added gallon #2 and marked it. #3 mark and #4 mark. So I can tell by looking how many gallons are in the tank before I operate. I know I burn around a gallon an hour. When it gets down to around a gallon, I fill it backup to 4.5 (never to the tippy top, as it'll leak around the cap), and know I've got about 4 hours of run time.

It's something you'll get used to doing once you gauge how much your own machine burns.

Also, as suggested, get a tooth bar for your bucket or a potato digger and use that to loosen up the soil and then scoop it out with the bucket. With the quick attach, it's so easy to change implements, it won't even slow you down, and, will probably speed up your progress in tougher soil. I have almost all sand, so I'm not in the same situation as you.

As far as running and cooling down.... it really depends on the ambient air temperature and the chores you're doing. For example, in early spring this year, with temps in the 50's, I was pulling logs for 3-4 hours, constantly running full speed 1/4 mile downhill and around, grab a log with the tongs, then full speed back 1/4 mile and up hill. Around hour 3.5 I started noticing the machine slowing down going up the hill and I could tell it was warm hydraulics. So I took a break for half an hour, drank some gatorade, ate a sandwich and let the machine cool down. Half hour later, I ran one more hour and finished up for the day.

So, ambient temps were in the 50's and I managed to heat it up pretty hot.

Fast forward to about a week ago, temp in the 90's, and I was brush hogging thick weeds, brush and grass. I ran for 3.5-4 hours non stop, and never had a hint of it getting weak on the hills.

One would think that brush hogging continuously in the 90's for 3-4 hours would be harder than dragging logs for the same time period, but every other 1/4 mile dragging and every other 1/4 mile tramming with no load on the return trip in the 50's would give it plenty of time to cool down.

I think the high speed tramming at 8mph heats up the oil more than the 2-3mph and running the brush cutter.

No scientific proof, but it makes sense to me, given the ambient temps I was operating in.

I really expected the machine to poop out during my brush hogging in the 90s, but I pooped out first. :rolleyes:
   / Why to never run out of gas #6  
I once nearly dropped an old international into a deep ravine around a stream because I put it in the wrong gear and stalled it. Even with a teenager痴 reflexes, I had the main axle over the edge by the time I had stood on the brakes. (And believe me, I STOOD on the brakes.)

Candidly, that痴 why I bought the 1445. I wanted a fail on set of brakes for steep slopes. Since then, I discovered the hard way that a stall on a 35degree slope generates enough hydraulic system pressure to keep the brakes on. Flipping the solenoid switch brings everything to a skidding halt, so it isn稚 quite as failsafe as I thought, but under lower slopes, it works as advertised.

I知 glad it ended well for you.

While putting the arms in float works, wouldn稚 stomping on the forward treadle, if you are going back (or vice versa), cause the engine to have the most drag on the pump, and slow you the most? Not that it would stop you, but to stop, on 425 I thought that one needs to engage the parking brake at a low slow speed, or you risk shearing the pin or the slotted 澱rake?

All the best,

   / Why to never run out of gas #7  
don't feel too bad, sometimes even aircraft pilots run out of fuel.. sometimes that don't end well..
   / Why to never run out of gas #8  
I'll be interested in hearing about MossRoad's test. I borrowed my neighbor's machine recently to move some rock. I bought that machine originally and sold it to him when I bought the 1845 (I've since bought another 425 because I love the size:capability ratio of that machine).

Anyway, he parked the tractor on a slope when he brought it over. When I cranked the tractor, it rolled forward into a pile of rocks before I could reverse the treadle. In fact, I later noticed I could move the machine just by rotating a wheel by hand! I assume the bucket was keeping the machine from rolling when on the slope. This tractor is like 17 years old (a guess) and is the same exact design as MossRoad's machine. I assumed he has a wear problem somewhere and mentioned it to him. The overall power of the tractor, in terms of climbing a hill, is still excellent. But it will definitely roll forward or backward on any hill when the treadle is in the neutral position. This is very dangerous when working with someone.

I had an odd behavior on my 1845 where the tractor would suddenly "surge" forward when taking off. I took the tractor to PT and they rebuilt the pump. On getting the tractor back, it almost threw me over the steering wheel when I first moved it and let off the treadle. My 1845 moves a lot faster than the 425 (due in part to larger wheels and tires I added) and I was shocked at how much it "held back" when releasing the treadle. This was all related to the rebuilt pump I assume. It holds back much better on hills too.

Another observation. I have a low bed dump trailer that I use to transport the tractor. Terry drove the tractor up the ramps on to the trailer when he brought it out of the shop. It's a pretty steep incline. I was shocked that he drove up that incline with the tractor only idling! I almost told him to increase the throttle because it wouldn't have climbed that incline before without some throttle. But it crawled right up without any complaint from the engine or drive pump. Because hydraulic systems usually degrade gradually, you don't notice much unless you try a new machine.
   / Why to never run out of gas #9  
I'm a little embarrassed because I did go into complete panick mode.

Don't feel bad, it's difficult to think about a solution when your mind is overloaded thinking about the cause of the problem. :confused: Been there, done that, going downhill with FEL that exceeds rear ballast weight, 2WD, rear wheels lose traction so no braking = it's off to the races! :eek:
   / Why to never run out of gas #10  
Another observation. I have a low bed dump trailer that I use to transport the tractor. Terry drove the tractor up the ramps on to the trailer when he brought it out of the shop. It's a pretty steep incline. I was shocked that he drove up that incline with the tractor only idling! I almost told him to increase the throttle because it wouldn't have climbed that incline before without some throttle. But it crawled right up without any complaint from the engine or drive pump. Because hydraulic systems usually degrade gradually, you don't notice much unless you try a new machine.

When we first got our 425 I used to routinely load it into the back of my pickup with the 5' ramps from Power Trac. I welded pipes onto the underside of the ramps and the top of my steel bumper, and I'd slip a rebar through the pipes for security.