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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The hour meter on my Bolens HT-23 was only working some of the time so I decided to do some investigating. I checked for 12 volts and ground at the two terminals and everything checked out with a test light but on further investigation I found the ground terminal on the dash bolt below the throttle lever was loose causing a bad connection. Fixed that and tried it out but the black and white segments were not tripping over all the time (according to my calculations they should trip every 36 seconds) which led me to take the hour meter apart. Normally I would just go buy a new meter as delicate little gears and my big hands are not a good mix but since the hour meter says "Bolens" on the face I wanted to try and save it. I did a google search of the number on the side of the meter and it shows up as an ENM Company meter so I assume they made it for Bolens. I am not sure if I will be able to repair it but I figured out a way to disassemble it without too much damage so I thought I would post this as it may help someone else who wants to try and repair a gauge that is not working or has a damaged face or glass as well as solve the mystery of what's inside. The first thing I did was remove the meter from the tractor and had a good look at the back of the crimped ring to try and figure out how to unroll the crimp to remove the face and glass - it turns out that the face could have stayed on as you cannot disassemble the meter from the face side as you will see - part of life is making mistakes and learning from them. I took an old pair of small vise grips that had seen better days and welded two flat pieces of steel to make new jaws - the top piece was made out of 1/16" thick steel and the bottom was 1/8" thick. After I welded and shaped the jaws I filed a small groove near the end of the top jaw to form a little tooth to catch the ring lip and roll it back. After working my way around the edge a few times gently unrolling the lip a bit each time I was able to remove the face.
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
With the lip unrolled I removed the face which holds the glass sealed with a rubber gasket. Then I removed the "Bolens" plate which is a light press fit inside a small indentation in the face of the meter assuming that the meter part would then come out - wrong - you can't get there from here!
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Then I had a good look at the terminal end and came to the conclusion the meter was joined at that end so I used a utility knife to cut the end of the case and removed the circuit board and meter assembly from that end. It appears to work by having an IC timer circuit trigger an electromagnetic which advances / ratchets the end dial one segment each time similar to an odometer. I had a good look at everything and did not see any stripped / broken gears so I sprayed a little fluid film on the gear train and powered it up for several minutes and it seemed to work ok advancing the segments each time. I then put the meter back in the case and resealed it with some JB weld - will let it sit for a couple of days to cure and then I will see if I can get the face back on and re-crimp the ring to hold it in place. If the meter still does not work properly I may get a new hour meter and see if I can put the "Bolens" face plate on it.
 

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I always figured someone had to put thing together so it has to come apart also. My have to get a little drastic (utility knife) at times but it works. I have rebuild starter relays a lot of times. Drill the rivets out, remove the cap, clean up the contacts and put the cap back on with small bolts.
 

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It probably would have been a good idea to replace any electrolytic capacitors, like that big blue 10 microfarad one, that were in there while you had it open. Being 30-35 years old, there's a chance they might still be OK, but old electrolytic caps are notorious for going bad. Lots of stuff on the internet about it. It could be why your meter stopped working. They are cheap and readily available at places like www.digikey.com. Make sure to get the same voltage rating, as well as the capacitance and mind the polarity when replacing them.

I wish you had posted this before you J-B Welded it back together. If it doesn't work after your repair, maybe you could reopen it and replace the cap/s. It sure looks like you have the ability. Good luck!
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Decided to try putting the face back on as the JB Weld had hardened nicely. Cleaned the trim ring, glass and gasket up and set them upside down and placed the meter on top. Put a hose clamp around the outer edge (I used three smaller ones as I did not have a larger one handy) and pried against the clamp to start the trim ring back down on the meter. Once the ring was bent over in several spots I removed the hose clamp and used a small pair of vise grips with several layers of masking tape on one jaw so they did not mark the outer face to crimp the trim ring down more (probably should have used leather or rubber on the jaw as about half way through the masking tape wore enough that the jaws were touching the outside of the trim ring and marked the paint a little bit). I then used a pair of metal bending pliers to squeeze the trim ring tight and then I sat the edge of the meter on a piece of flat steel and went around the outside at 180 degrees with a flat faced body hammer to round the edge of the trim ring a bit more. I think the end result doesn't look too bad but I will let other people be the judge of how good of a job I did. I gave it a test run afterwards but unfortunately it advanced for three segments and then the dial stayed in the same spot - could hear the coil moving the trip lever but the segments were not advancing so it was still intermittent - once in a while you win, once in a while you loose and sometimes you break even!
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It probably would have been a good idea to replace any electrolytic capacitors, like that big blue 10 microfarad one, that were in there while you had it open. Being 30-35 years old, there's a chance they might still be OK, but old electrolytic caps are notorious for going bad. Lots of stuff on the internet about it. It could be why your meter stopped working. They are cheap and readily available at places like www.digikey.com. Make sure to get the same voltage rating, as well as the capacitance and mind the polarity when replacing them.

I wish you had posted this before you J-B Welded it back together. If it doesn't work after your repair, maybe you could reopen it and replace the cap/s. It sure looks like you have the ability. Good luck!
Thought about the capacitor for a while and that it could have been partially shorted causing the coil not to get enough voltage and current which in turn could cause the trip arm not to be pulled properly so I decided to take the end back off and install a new capacitor. Removed the J B Weld by filing a groove where the join was and then straightened the two terminals and slid the end plate off over them. Then the soldering iron came out and I unsoldered the two coil wires and removed the gear train from the circuit board to make sure there was just the one capacitor. I did not have an axial lead capacitor so I used a radial lead capacitor and put some wire insulation over the positive lead. Soldered it in and reattached the coil and tried it out but it still only advanced a few segments and then it stopped advancing the segments again so I assume the gear ratchet is worn enough that it no longer grabs all the time so I will have to see if I can get another hour meter the same and change the face plate - oh well it was fun to take it apart and see how it was constructed.
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Did some checking on a new hour meter and to get the same model of meter was going to cost about $100.00 Canadian so I did some Google searches and after checking out a few web sites showing odometer repairs and how mechanical counters worked I decided to give repairing the meter one last try. Took the meter apart and used a piece of masking tape across the dials to hold them in the correct position so the numbers would stay in line. Found out that I should have put it across the top or bottom so that when I reassembled the meter that I could read the numbers I wanted to display to make sure the correct numbers were showing in the window area and maybe should have used scotch tape as when I removed the masking tape a bit of the numbers pulled off with the tape (they are still readable but not quite as crisp). I spread the U frame a little bit by hand and took out the dial ( the pin they rotate on is turned down at each end so it would not push through) and then pushed the two rods that held the small gears and trip arm out (they were held in with scotch tape and a dab of glue) so that everything was out in the open and I could have a good look at things. Removed the Fluid Film I had sprayed before from all the parts as best I could and had a good look at the segment wheel teeth and they all looked good so I had a look at the trip dog and came to the conclusion that the two teeth were worn enough that it no longer grabbed and pushed the segment wheel gear reliably. At first I was not completely sure how the trip dog teeth worked to advance the segment wheel so I built the teeth up with JB Weld and filed the teeth the way I thought they should be and put it partially back together but it did not work any better so I studied the trip dog more and figured out how it worked as shown in Fig 8 (the tooth where the pivot hole is pulls the segment dial to start it to turn as the magnet is energized pulling the bar and the other tooth pushes on the segment wheel gear tooth as the bar returns to it's original position to complete the turn and lock the segment wheel until the cycle starts all over again). I built the teeth up again with some more JB Weld and filed the teeth as shown in Fig 13 and partially reassembled the meter and tried moving the trip bar the same way the magnet would and the segment wheel advanced properly for 20 times so I put the little gears back in (sorry I did not take any pictures of putting them in as it was tricky work for my unsteady hands just to get them in and slide the rod through). I took a short piece of mechanics wire and bent the end at 90 degrees about 1/8" from the end and slid it through the hole in the small gear one at a time and lined them up with the rod and pushed the rod through the gears one at a time until I had them all back in and lined the rod up with the hole in the U bar at the other side and pushed the rod in and put a piece of tape over each side of the U frame to hold the rods in place ( originally they used scotch tape - I used masking tape - once the U fame is inside the plastic housing the rods are trapped anyways). I then put the meter back inside the plastic housing and hooked it up to a battery and the meter advanced every time for half an hour. I then bent the terminals back down and applied JB Weld to the end cap again.
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Let things sit for a day and then filed the JB Weld down enough so that the mounting bracket would slide over the end and tried the meter again and it worked fine for another 1/10 of an hour so I installed the meter back in the dash, applied 12 volts, and let it run for 4/10 of an hour and it worked fine so I think it may be fixed. Not sure how long it will last but will try it out and see what happens as it has worked for a good hour now without any problems. The numbers on the three left dials (153) are not in perfect alignment ( a little high) but the hour, the 1/10 hour and the segment wheel were high when I put it back together and they are now down where they are centred in the window so I think the others will display correctly when they trip over - time will tell.
 

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