Prairie Land Power,1101 West Carpenter, Jerseyville, Ill. 62052.
I have done business with the former owners, Krause & Son Inc. for the last 20 years. I have purchased parts and equiptment from them in the past with satisfactory results. That was when Bob Krause owned the business. However since then, things have changed.
In june of 2000, I had my tractor, a Massey Ferguson 165 Diesel, in for repair. I was unable to do the repair myself since it involved splitting the tractor in half. A small needle bearing on an idler gear driving the hydrolic pump, which controls the 2-speed transmission high-low range, failed. The end result of their work on my tractor was to nearly destroy it. I was billed for parts not replaced, parts were broken, bolts were stripped, bolts were cross-threaded, components were mis-assembled, and my new battery was swapped for an old one.
I had Krouse & Son work on my tractor. There was a problem in the transmission which I was unable to repair. The problem was a bearing on an idler gear which drove a hydraulic pump. I also had them work on the brakes, the power steering, and differential lock, these were things which I did not have the facilities or time to do the repairs.
On July 13th, after completing these repairs, I received by FAX the following three pages of the billing . Later I found out that there were not three, but five pages . In the mean time I paid the bill for the amount of $2863.12. Since the third page, which contains all the questionable charges on it, was not sent, I did not question the final total. Had I had all five pages, I would have disputed some of their charges on the billing. (Details)
They delivered the tractor during the week when I was not at the farm. I had previousily made arrangements with my neighbor, Owen Roach, to receive the tractor. That saturday, when I tried to start the tractor, it wouldn't start. Owen told me that they had to jump start the tractor to get it off the truck. When I confronted Mike, at Krouse & Son, with that information, they denied that it had happened. It took until august 21st to get them to admit that the tractor would not start when they had delivered it . In the mean time, I spent many hours evaluating the problem.
When I tried to remove the side panels from the tractor to get the battery out, the first bolt's head twisted off. I eventually discovered they had cross threaded all the bolts in the side panels. Two bolts on each side are 1/4 x 28 thread and the rest are 1/4 x 20. I ended up drilling out the bolts, re-threading all the holes and replacing all the bolts.
I then discovered that the battery in the tractor was not the same one I had replaced last fall. I tried to charge the battery, it seemed to take a charge, but it still wouldn't start the tractor. After talking to Mike again, he convinced me that it must be in the electrical system. I didn't believe that, but, I spent several days checking out the entire electrical system just to make sure. I removed the regulator and bench tested it. I removed the generator and checked it out. All were good. I then re-installed the regulator and generator and checked out the rest of the system.
Still the battery wouldn't start the tractor. I then replaced the battery with a new one. The battery that they had put in the tractor was one with side posts. I have never ever purchased a battery with side posts. That is very dangerous in that tractor, since the sides of the battery are in contact with metal. If the positive cap plug were to fall off, it would short out the battery (Battery).
Now I was now able to use the tractor, so I thought.
The steering seemed stiff and hard to control. Every so often, it would steer to the right. When I was up on the hill brush hogging, I had several instances where I had to fight the steering when it steered all the way to the right. Now, if the power steering fluid is low this can happen. I spent 2-3 hours that day before returning to the shed. Then I put the blade on and was doing some landscaping around the shed. I was going in circles, backwards, and forwards. I was still experiencing steering problems, but I was not going very fast either. I was backing up when the steering shot to the right and there was a loud popping sound. The wheels would not go back to center. I shut down the tractor and opened the front grill. I saw the power steering cylinder overly extended, more than half way. I couldn't see anything wrong in there. I checked the casting which drives the tie rods. I found that the nut was loose on the bolt, just finger tight. I thought that the spline had probably slipped. About this time Ervin Graham came to my rescue. We spent about an hour removing and re-sequencing the spline shaft so I could drive the tractor back into the shed. I didn't want to leave my equipment out in the rain. We found that there was a Craftsman punch wedged under the power steering cylinder. I also pointed out to Ervin that the power steering linkage was mis-assembled and binding (Details).
The next day we proceeded to remove the front end of the tractor in order to find the problem. We removed the bumper, grill, and front side panels. I could then see that the top casting, which drives the spline shaft, had broken on the back side . I also found that the nut on the bolt which holds the casting on the spline had been stripped by over tightening. The bolt was hardened and the nut was of softer steel, probably that 14 cent SAE 1/2 inch nut they billed me for.
I called Mike, at Krouse & Son, on Monday and asked if they would honor their labor warranty. He said yes. When I told him what had happened and what had broken, he said he would talk to his boss and get back to me. They refused to replace the casting, saying that it could not possibly have broken in the way which I have described above. But if I were to buy a new casting from them, they would give 10% off the price. I didn't think that they needed any more of my money. So I went to Brinker Tractor and purchased the casting for less than what Krause & Son had quoted me. (I think that they had already added the 10% on top of the list price.)
When I took pictures of the spline shaft I found that there were 2 shiny splines reguardless of the rotation of the shaft . I also found that in the casting, which broke, there was a mark on the key , which also has marks on it corresponding the horizontal turn marks on the spline shaft from when it was manufactured. If the spline shaft had just spun in the casting, there would be wipe marks across the key, not just a single mark down the center. I tried to line up the casting and the spline for pictures and found that the casting would no longer align with the spline . When I turned spline where the 2 shiny splines align with the key, there is a high degree of alignment. This appears to be how they misaligned the spline with the casting. If they tried to compress the casting, when it was out of alignment, back to the original gap, they would either strip the bolt or nut or break something because of the misalignment problem. With the spline shaft out of key and the nut stripped, when you apply force to the casting, there would be a tendency for the casting to want to expand because of the force against the splines. Eventually, the casting will split at the weakest point or strip out the splines. Also with the steering linkage being assembled wrong, and binding, there would be extra forces, not normally ocurring.(Details)
When I reassembled the power steering and the linkage properly, I had to re-align the linkage. They had shortened it. I have found that this causes the tractor to steer to the right. Now if you turn the linkage upside down, as they had done, it gets even shorter, causing it to steer more to the right. But if you loosen up the stop pin, the tapered pin which limits the travel of the power steering valve, it will cause the wheels to flop back and forth, but will be driveable. I believe that this is how it was setup, because I had noticed that the wheels seemed to be moving excssively back and forth at higher engine speeds. At higher engine speeds, there is more power being supplied to the power steering system and it also responds quicker.
When I was taking pictures of the the power steering cylinder, I noticed that there was oil seeping from the back of the cylinder. The original leak was on the shaft, never at the back of the cylinder. This is the first time that the power steering cylinder had ever been worked on. None of the bolts had ever been removed. It had original paint on it, from the factory, prior to Krouse & Son working on it. So I opened up the cylinder to see why it was leaking. I found that they had dropped it and left a dent in the O-ring groove, deforming the O-ring . I spent a couple of hours repairing the dent and reassembling the cylinder. I also found a piece of O-ring from the power steering hoses inside the cylinder which appears to have been chewed up by the valve. This may have contributed to the problems. It probably helped cause the valve to stick, causing the power steering to steer all the way to the right.(Details)
As previously mentioned, the bottom nut, on the power steering spline driving the tie rods, was just finger tight. There are corresopnding marks left on the spline shaft. It was just a matter of time before the splines stripped or the tie rod casting broke.
The day I visited Krouse & Son to get my
power steering parts back. I asked for a complete billing statement,
which I received. However, I have never received all my parts.
Going over the billing statement, I found charges for a variety of things which I had never authorized or been informed of. Air filter, Fuel filter, Sediment Bowl, and a Repair Mount for Lights.
The fuel filter had been replaced about 2 years ago. At the rate at which I use fuel, that would be about 40 - 50 galons of fuel through the filters. I believe the air filter had been replaced at the same time. I still have the old one. It hasen't made it to the dump yet. Neithor has the box from the new fuel filter.
The sediment bowl was not cracked when the tractor left my farm (Details). I had been using the tractor when the gear came off the hydraulic pump in the transmission causing me to lose the high range and engine braking. You couldn't use that tractor in the hills without engine braking. The brakes didn't work.
On the billing there is a line for the lights repair but it says NO Charge. However there is a $25.00 charge for Shop Supplies. Looking at the detailed billing, I don't see where there could have been anything else left out of the billing. Unless it was duct tape and super glue.
Ervin and I couldn't see where any work had been done to the lights. So I took pictures of the front, sides, and back of the lights. I don't use the tractor at night so the lights don't really matter. They take a lot of abuse while I am bursh hogging.
About 10 minutes after I took the pictures, Ervins son, Corey, fell off the tractor. He had tried to get up on the left side of the tractor by pulling on the hand hold on the light assembly. The assembly which holds the lights has a hand hold molded into it. The entire assembly fell off on the ground. Aparrently they broke it some how did a half-assed job of repairing it and left 2 of the 4 bolts out of it. I always use the hand holds because it is to far to jump without something to hold on to. However, I usually use the right side of the tractor, due to an old injury to my right elbow. Now I ask you, what do you think would have happened if I had used the left side of the tractor up on the hill while brush hogging? Corey probably save my life by finding that flaw. I could have fallen on a stob and died. Or better yet, that there would have been one hell of a lawsuit for injury due to negligence on their part. Corey is 8 and weighs about 60 pounds. I weight 174 pounds. You do the math.(Details)
The following saturday, (09/30/00), I was able to start using the tractor again. I brush hogged for about 2 hours in the morning and that after noon I put on the tiller and planted some food plots. Fortunately this time, I parked on a slight incline. When I stopped the engine and got off of the tractor, I could still hear something running. I looked under the tractor to find a stream of transmission fluid gushing out of the left rear seal of the differential. It was warm, about 120 - 130 degrees. The fluid was flowing at about 1 1/2 - 2 quarts per minute. I immediately returned the tractor to the shed and checked the dip stick only to find that the transmission empty of fluid. (At least there was none showing on the dip sitck.)
The following sunday, (10/08/00), I put about 4 gal. of new transmission fluid in the tractor. I then parked it on a slight incline and took pictures of the cold vicous fluid pouring out of the differential . Obviously, there was less flow due to the temperature of the transmission fluid. The air temperature was about 45 degrees and it had been down to 29 degrees the night before.(Details)
The tractor was then taken else where for repair. (Wouldn't you!)
The cost of repair to remove left rear tire and axle, install new axle seal and, re-assemble with new gasket was $211.48.
The axle seal, in the rear end, was found to be full metal filings. It was dammaged and had to be replaced. I was billed for this same seal when Krouse & Son worked on my tractor. It is stated in the billing that this seal, which was supposed to have been replaced, was not replaced by Krouse & Son, but was the original seal.(Details)
Then the valve, which controls 3 point cylinder, had also quit working. The tractor then had to be splin in two again. It was found that a bolt, internal to the tractor, was not replaced in the oil filter housing and dirt had been sucked up into the hydrolic control valve. This repair cost an additional $325.00.
Now let's look at the trucking labor, they show 5.43 hours. It is 40 miles from Jerseyville to my farm. They had initially estimated the trucking at $175. I think that their $352.90 is a bit excessive. If you divide the total by the time it comes out to be $65.00 per hour. Thats even more than their $50.00 per hour shop time.
Every thing that they worked on, that I can see, has been was beat up. Hammer markes on all the castings . Bolts cross threaded, bolts left out, seals not replaced, things broken. It is just un-real the poor quality work which they provided and then charged me for.(Details)
They kept the grear, which I purchased on the hydrolic pump and the other parts which they replaced and I requested be returned. However, they did offer to let me look through their dumpster for them. (Like they are going to throw out a $213.26 gear and a $72.15 shaft.)
I paid Krause & Son $2863.12 for this job and then it cost me an aditional $1017.66 (plus misc. bolts and lots of time) to fix what they broke. The worst part is that I only have about 6 hours on the tractor since they worked on it.