Troy-Bilt Trailblazer sickle section replacement Part 1
I purchased a Troy-Bilt Trailblazer at a farm auction this winter. I was under the assumption they were still being manufactured. I found out quickly that they were not and finding parts for it was going to be a pain. The mower ran great, but the sickle sections needed to be replaced. I searched MTD's (troy-bilt) website, no luck with anything. Ebay and some other internet sites had sections for it, but WOW they were expensive - $5 to $10 a piece for a 2 inch section, not to mention the rivets. I did some more searching and as luck would have it Good Ol' John Deere makes a double section (4 inch) they call Dura Twin, that with a little work would match. These sections are readily available at any JD dealer and come in course or fine cuttings. They cost me about $2.50 a piece, which being a double section, was under a 1/4 of what two, 2 inch sections cost. I bought a box of 5 1/2 (wire size, not inches) by 5/8 inch rivets for $2.83. This was by a pound which probably had over 200 rivets in it.
This thread will describe how to retro fit your Trailblazer to accept JD sections on it.
Considerations: I have access to a pretty nice shop with a lot of cool tools. That being said, this project can be done without extensives tools and some help from your local welder or machine shop.
Step 1: Remove the cutter bar. Take out the two bolts holding the cutter bar to the driver (center of the bar) and pull the cutter bar out one side or the other. You may have to loosen the hold downs a bit if it too tight to move.
Step 2: With a hand or die grinder, grind the top of the rivits off and pound them out with a punch and a hammer. If you don't have a grinder, you could use a file, but it's going to take considerable more time and elbow grease.
Step 3: Now with all the sections and wear plates remove, you should have a bar with holes in it. If you haven't already purchased sections, now's the time.
Step 4: Decision time! You will see that the secitons will line up with every other hole. You could just attach the sections with rivets in the holes that line up and be done with it. The end section is a half section and you will have to leave it off. I chose to rework the bar so all the holes would line up (condsiderably more work). You can also see that the Ledger sections (bottom guard sections) will line up with every hole. If any of these ever need replaced, you could just take out the one next to it also and install and new JD seciton in it's place. This will save you a considerable amount of $.
If you decide to take the easy route, install the sections with rivets and bolt the bar back on. For reworking the bar, look at part 3
You will see that the holes in the JD sections match every other hole in your bar. The holes that don't match will need to be filled and redrilled. This is done with a welder and a drill press.
Filling the holes: Lay out your sections end to end and then lay your bar on top. Now line up the holes that match starting at one end to the other. Now mark the holes that don't match with a marker (very important). With a welder fill the holes in. You may need to flip the bar over and weld from the other side to completely fill the hole. After all the holes are filled grind the welds flat on each side.
Drilling the new holes: Using small bolts that match the holes in your bar and sections, bolt the sections to the bar (every other hole). In a drill press with a bit that matches the size of the hole in your bar, drill out the new holes. Your bolted on sections will line up the holes for you. The weld is considerably harder than the surrounding metal of your bar, so go slow and use some cutting oil. You should now have a bar with holes that match up to sections
You will see when the sections are bolted to the bar, they stick over the back. This part will need to either be ground off, or cut off with a torch or plasma cutter. Mark the sections when bolted to the bar and remove the material that sticks over the back. The hold downs prevent you from using the section as it is.
The sectons also need a counter sink on the bottom of the holes in it. This will allow space for the tappered rivet. I used a 13/32 inch drill bit and a drill press to make a small recess on the bottom of each hole in the section. The sections are VERY HARD. You will either need several bits or a bit sharpener. This is pain staking work, but is necessary.
On my 38" bar the last section need to be cut in half. You can do this with a torch or plasma cutter.
Once all the sections are prepaired, they are ready to be mounted on your bar.
The wear plates will also need to be drilled out, because only every other hole will line up with then too. They don't need to be filled with a welder though. Bolt the wear plates and sections to the bar in their cooresponding position. With a drill press drill out wear plates where the holes don't line up. Again this is very hard metal. Take your time and use some cutting oil. Now you are ready for assembly
As stated ealier, I used 5 1/2(wire size) by 5/8 inch tappered rivets. I tried some tappered bolts, but the nut stuck up to far and the hold downs prevented using them (too bad). This left me with using good ol' fashioned rivets.
Use an anvil or other hard piece of metal to pound the rivets flat on top. Place a rivet up through the section and the bar so the tappered part is on the bottom where the recess in the seciton is (the part you drilled out). Make sure the location of the wear plates is marked so you don't forget to install them where they need to go. Use a hammer or mallet to smash the expossed part of the rivet flat. Repeat this until all the sections and wear plates are installed.
One more thing.
Slide the cutter bar with the new sections into your mower and center it. Take the drive block and bolt it loosely to your bar. You will notice that it won't complete lay flat on the bar like it is designed. Two or the recesses in the drive bar won't match your rivet heads now because they have been moved. Mark their new location on you drive bar and grind the bottom of it so it will lay flat on you cutter bar. Bolt it up and you are ready to mow!
This project took about a day. Man does it cut now. I bought a few extra sections and modified them with the others, so if I have to replace any in the future, I'm set. I took some pictures, but I am on dial up, and it was taking way too long to post.
I have had to do this same thing with my Gravely sickle bar mower. Can be tedious but it sure cuts nice after you're done. An old timer told me that I could get the old blades off easier. I need to slide the blade into a vice closed enough to stop when the blade bar hits it. then take a hammer and give it a good wack on the back of the blade and they will break off at the rivets. I have not tryed this but I will the next time I need to replace any blades. It would sure save time rather than grinding off the rivets then using a punch to push them out.
P.S. Welcome to the Tractor Forum! I hope you enjoy yourself here and join in frequently.
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Good Job! I have two of these machines, both were purchased new in the early 90's and both run fine, the problem is they both need sickle sections and the cost of ones from Troy bilt is outrageous. The cutter heads on these units are ESM which I think is a German made unit and I presumed the sections are metric sized. I have two spare cutter bars and will try the alternative section replacement as you have suggested. I checked at TSC this morning and they did not have the Dura Twin replacements, by the way, did you use the course or fine sections? Thanks again for the post and give us some pictures if you can.
Finished bar with new sections riveted on. I used the fine sections, because I cut some grass as well as brush. They work great. Cuts through 2 inch trees like butter. I you were only cutting brush the course sections would probably work better as they wouldn't wear as much. Hope this helps.
I have a Trailblazer 15003 that I got in trade... I rebuilt the carburetor, put new 4-ply tires on it and replaced a couple of broken teeth on the cutter bar. My question: I'm trying to sell this thing, and NOBODY seems to remember when they were manufactured or what they sold for new. Somebody thought they were over 2 grand, but I can't verify it.
Anybody out there buy one of these new and remember what you paid for it?
Originally posted by Panicbutter Finished bar with new sections riveted on. I used the fine sections, because I cut some grass as well as brush. They work great. Cuts through 2 inch trees like butter. I you were only cutting brush the course sections would probably work better as they wouldn't wear as much. Hope this helps.
PB, that bar turned out REAL nice.
How does that cutter work on steep slopes. I could use something like to cut the grass on my pond dam.
Is there any way i could get exact dimensions on the rivets used including head dia (3/8"?) length and shank diameter (1/4"?) I don't know what 5 1/2 wire size means and I have done my research none of the people at my local fastener specialist stores know about rivets.