Cleaning up the Elec-Trak

The biggest job in getting our Elec-Track E15 back into good shape repairing rust damage and scraping and repainting.  

 

This has been a fascinating project and I can highly recommend it.

One thing I want to make clear is that I'm no expert on Elec-Traks or on restoring them.  If any of you old hand Elec-Trak folks see any oversights or dumb mistakes, please let me know.

 

Back to the Elec-Trak Table of Contents...

 

ElecTrak arriving home
The Elec-Track arriving at its new home -- Looks pretty good!

 

De-Rusting 

Most of the rust damage is associated with the two battery compartments.  As long as the batteries are maintained, there is no problem, but if battery electrolyte is spilled or if the batteries freeze and leak, the metal frame and body of the tractor will suffer. 

A lesson here is that the Achilles heel of the Elec-Trak is corrosion damage to the steel body and frame that is caused by not carefully maintaining the batteries.   If the battery pack can't be maintained, then its better to take the batteries out so they won't damage the steel frame and body.

So, basically even though our Elec-Trak was working and probably would have kept working for some time, there was enough rust damage that I decided to do some disassembly, cleanup and scraping, and repainting.  As is usually the case, the "If I remove just one more part I can do  a better job on the rust" scenario took over, and the the taking off a few parts became a fairly extensive disassembly.  Luckily there is not all that much to disassemble on an Elec-Trak :)

A few pictures of the cleanup process

Battery Compartments

As mentioned, the battery compartments are the source of most of the rust.

 
Back battery compartment.

Back compartment without batteries
Kind of rusty.
 
Front battery compartment.
 
Front compartment without batteries.
Also kind of rusty.
 


 
Removing the fenders (which were OK)
from the damaged battery compartment.
 

The back battery compartment with a
rust hole through the plate that
joins the two frame rails. 
A bit disconcerting.
 
The battery compartment sheet
metal removed.  Pretty far gone.
 
The top of the frame with the
battery compartment and fenders
removed.
Other than the hole in the top plate,
the frame appears to have only
surface rust.
 

The front battery compartment was rusted enough that I decided to take out all the contents so I could clean and paint.

 
I marked all the electrical connections
before removing for reassembly.
 
The front battery compartment after
removing most of the contents.

Removing the front compartment
side panels -- very rusted. 
 
This is the bottom of the side panel
where it attached to the frame.  
 

Removing the front "grill", winch, and sheet metal side panels.

 
This is winch that lifts attachments.
 
Removing the winch and "grill" to allow
access for cleanup.

The front "grill".  Its an aluminum
casting.  It held up very well. 

Front with everything but the winch
removed. 

I opened up the electronics comparment just to clean out any rodent nests and see what it looked like.   Most of it looked fine.

 
Access cover removed for
electronics compartment.
 
Another view of the electronics
compartment.
 
This is the lower end of the steering
wheel shaft with a pinion and sector to
drive the steering linkage.

This is the front side of the same
electronics compartment.  

The "fuel" gage was still working, but the plastic lens was clouded, the other gage was broken.  Both are available from the Elec-Track parts places -- I got a replacement for the broken gage, and its a near exact replacement. 

There is one relay with a fried wire/contact -- still not sure what its supposed to be doing as most everything seems to work OK.

There is actually an aftermarket solid state speed controller available to replace the analog system of resistors and switches that the original Elec-Trak uses.   I may look into this at some later time, but for now the original Elec-Trak controls are working fine.

Frame and Drive 

There was more rust underneath the frame where the gearbox and drive motor live.  None of it bad enough to require more than cleanup and repainting.


Gearbox to the right and wheel hub left.
More rust and scraping. 
 
Winch needed a new strap, and
wires some protection.

By this time the Elec-Trak is light
enough to easily turn on its side
for easier access.

This shows an area where the drive
belts were wearing away the
insulation on the main power wires --
glad I caught that!


Taking the winch out.

Rots a rust.

Brushing on a solution of baking soda
and water to neutralize battery acid.

Drive motor, gearbox and brake.
The hole in the frame deck is visible
at left.

After looking at the hole in the frame deck, I decided not to do anything about it for now.  It does not appear to effect the structural integrity of the frame.  Maybe at some later date I'll weld a plate over (or under) the effected area, but it seems OK for now.

Cleaning and Painting

I scraped and used a mini grinder to get as much rust as possible off.   For the areas that were exposed to battery electrolyte, I washed with a baking soda solution, and then rinsed and cleaned again.

For rusted areas, I painted with Rust Oleum rusty metal primer.  I followed that with a coat of more or less Elec-Trak yellow.  I suppose "real" Elec-Trak restorers will cringe at this, but the yellow paint is as close as the Home Depot paint department could come on an exterior Latex paint.  I had a gallon mixed up, and ended up using most of it.

 
Grinding and scraping.
     


Applying the rust primer.

Most of the bottom of frame primed.