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Frozen cables (ice) Isarmatic cable plow

Discussion in 'Western Plows Discussion' started by property mgr, Feb 15, 2007.

  1. property mgr

    property mgr Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    I think my cables are frozen on my Isarmatic cable plow. Any advice on unfreezing the cables, how to keep them from freezing while plowing during wet snow and very cold falling temps? How to prevent this problem in the future?

    Here is why I believe my cables may be frozen. Plowed during a nice snow in St. Louis yesterday. Had one hour of freezing rain, then sleet, then four hours of snow and temps falling from 32 to 20 when I finished plowing. Plow worked great for three hours until I stopped to do about 30 minutes of snow blower work on the sidewalks. Got behind the wheel to do a few clean up passes, up down worked but felt like it had some limited movement. Right left did not work. Joy stick definately felt like it was frozen--no real movement in the cable. Plowed with the plow down for a few seconds and tried the joy stick right left again. Now it is free and fully functional.

    Get out to do some final hand shveling on stairs, and salt work. Get back behind the wheel after about 30 minutes, right left is now frozen agian . Plow for 20 seconds, try joystick again--no luck--it is still frozen. I'm done plowing for the night so I take it home and park for the night. Temps fall to 14 degrees overnight. I make an assumption the cable must be froze where it enters the valve housing. Next morning I heat the valve housing cover plate with a hand held torch for about a minute--ice on outside of housing melts. I try the joystick and it still feels frozen, no movement and plow is not moving.

    Does this sound like a frozen cable? Is this common in very cold weather? How can this be prevented? If it can not be prevented, what is the best way to unfreeze while on the plow route in very cold weather. If I'm on the wrong track here with the trouble shooting, what would you suspect or try next?

    More snow possible on Friday. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks guys.

    Property Mgr
     
  2. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    Yes, the cable's can freeze. But the cable operated pump's are actually more susceptible to ice/water accumulation inside the cable housing's on the pump (the part that you heated) If your cable's are very old or have any crack's in the outer plastic jacket where water can get in not only will it freeze in the cable but the water will work it's way down the cable and accumulate inside the lever cavities on the pump.Pull the cover's off both the housing's and inspect them for ice build up and check the cover gasket's.If the cable's are cracked then replace them both, clean out the lever cavities and spread some grease inside each one to help keep the water out.
     
  3. nitehawk64

    nitehawk64 Junior Member
    from 46391
    Messages: 12

    Frozen Cables

    Had the same problem with my Western on my 77 Jimmy. Could not figure out why it would not turn L/R, up down would work fine but L/R would stop working. Did the same torch thing. I had replaced both cables last winter. But still had the problem. This fall I took the covers off both housing, and when I did water poured out from the Spring & Summer rains. Clean and dried everything out. Made new gaskets for both housings. One cable feeds thru the top; I used silicone on the area where that cable goes in to seal it. We have had sub zero days and a lot of snow this week (live at the bottom of Lake Michigan). No problems now.

    John
    :)
     
  4. property mgr

    property mgr Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    Remove & inspect cable connections

    My cables appear to be in good shape (not seeing any cracks) so I'll be outside this afternoon to get into the covers and take a look. Nine degrees last night--Brrrr.

    I'll let you know how it goes.

    Thanks guys.
     
  5. property mgr

    property mgr Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    More inspection and heat, Up/down OK, R/L still frozen

    Guys,

    Took off both cable housing covers to inspect for ice. I had a good amount of white grease (I just added a large quantity of white grease last month while working on a cable adjustment issue) in the Right/Left housing and it is the one that remains frozen. The up/down has, I believe enough grease on the moving parts, but the housing is not full of grease.

    It's 14 degrees and sunny this morning (snow tonight) while I'm trying these procedures. I tried to operate the joystick up/down right/left. Joystick appears frozen with limited up/down and almost no right left. (a little more movement to the left--can not get past neutral to move it to the right. Could not get the pump motor to engage for any movement up right left.

    I applied a handheld torch to the cable sleeve where it enters the housing for the up/down and also all over the edge of the up/down housing itself. Mostly on the lower side of the housing so the heat would travel up. Several attempts to heat for a minute, then try to operate. Up/ Down became free and is now operating again. Never any visible ice but I did see a drop or two of moisture after heating. Was not sure if this was water or grease byproducts--assuming it was water from the cable/housing connection. It did become free to operate up/down again and this function is now operating normally.

    Right left is packed full of grease, so its harder to see, but no ice is visible even after a screw driver probe. Same heat applied to cable sleeve and housing rim. Several attempts, but no improvement. I can move the joy stick just far enough to the left to get the motor to start in the left position but the plow does not move. I can not get the joystick to move past neutral to the right and the motor never operates.

    I'm questioning my torch placement and the technique. Should I wipe out as much grease as possible and hit the entire inside of the housing with a ton of heat for five minutes? How much is too much? I know I don't want the outside jacket on the cables to get too hot and melt. Should I use a heat lamp or hair dryer on for an extended time? Any other thoughts. Am I close to making this work or am I on the wrong path?

    Any other thoughts guys.

    Thanks

    Property Mgr
     
  6. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    If your lift/lower cable works after heating it, then it was frozen for sure. As to the angle cable,disconnect it from the pump and try to move the lever in the pump housing by hand. Does it move free? If not, DO NOT HEAT THE LEVER HOUSING WITH A TORCH! Their's a few O-rings right behind the lever and you don't want to risk melting them.How about the disconnected cable? Is it now free to move?
     
  7. property mgr

    property mgr Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    Disconnected cable from angle valve, tested cable & valve

    Followed your advice, disconnected the cable from the angle valve lever. Valve lever moved by hand--did seem a little stiff on the first pass, but then seems to move free. Cable seemed to operate free.

    Now, one other change since the last post, I put my propane Deer stand heater under the whole plow housing for about a half hour while I was setting up to run these tests. Its one of those Colman heaters about 10" round that screws onto a small propane can. The outside temp has warmed up today to 31 degrees although very windy and still cold. This seemed to do a nice job of warming up the whole valve area since the temp was up to 31degrees.

    Also, I did find that the O ring on the end of the angle cable was chewed up on about a third of the ring. I hope that was the main problem. Shot some WD-40 down the cable while I had it off and then replaced the O ring. Put white grease around the cable housing connection since it already has grease on it and I think it's probably too cold for silicone to stick tonight. As I was finishing up about an hour ago the snow started to fall! Covered up the plow motor and cables with a tarp and I'm hoping I'll still be good in the morning--going down to 25 degrees tonight with wet snow falling now. 2"-4" possible.

    How much white grease do you put in your housings. Pack it full or just lube the moving parts? Do you seal your cables to the housing?

    Thanks for the advice.

    Property Mgr.
     
  8. property mgr

    property mgr Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    Disconnected cable from angle valve, tested cable & valve

    Followed your advice, disconnected the cable from the angle valve lever. Valve lever moved by hand--did seem a little stiff on the first pass, but then seems to move free. Cable seemed to operate free.

    Now, one other change since the last post, I put my propane Deer stand heater under the whole plow housing for about a half hour while I was setting up to run these tests. Its one of those Colman heaters about 10" round that screws onto a small propane can. The outside temp has warmed up today to 31 degrees although very windy and still cold. This seemed to do a nice job of warming up the whole valve area since the temp was up to 31degrees.

    Also, I did find that the O ring on the end of the angle cable was chewed up on about a third of the ring. I hope that was the main problem. Shot some WD-40 down the cable while I had it off and then replaced the O ring. Put white grease around the cable housing connection since it already has grease on it and I think it's probably too cold for silicone to stick tonight. As I was finishing up about an hour ago the snow started to fall! Covered up the plow motor and cables with a tarp and I'm hoping I'll still be good in the morning--going down to 25 degrees tonight with wet snow falling now. 2"-4" possible.

    How much white grease do you put in your housings. Pack it full or just lube the moving parts? Do you seal your cables to the housing?

    Thanks for the advice.

    Property Mgr.
     
  9. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    I don't pack the housings completely full of grease but I do put plenty in there to do the job.I like to silicone the cable's in the housing too.Seem's to keep the water out better.
     
  10. property mgr

    property mgr Junior Member
    Messages: 20

    Thanks B&B

    I'll let you know if it makes it through tomorrow's snow and 25 degrees.

    Appreciate your posts.

    Property Mgr
     
  11. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    Keep us posted bud. And good luck!:)
     
  12. Quality SR

    Quality SR PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,828

    I had the same problem with the left and right.. I hit a snow pile and it freed up.. After about 20 of plowing fine, i went to angle the plow and the truck died. I had to disconnect the plow wiring from the battery and get a jump, then hook it back up and then go... this happened about 15 times.. I am trying to figure out what happened.
     
  13. Quality SR

    Quality SR PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,828

    I figured it out there is 2 covers on the pump where the cables go into. I took the cover off the top on and there a drop of water and was relatively clean. The bottom cover that i took off was filled with water. I loosened one screw and the water poured out. It was also very dirty. I pulled the truck half way into the garage, and i turned on the kerosene heater for about an hour. I took a Q-tip and cleaned out the dirt and grim. Once dried I put some grease in there and got in to the truck and made it go up and down and left and right and worked the grease in there. The lower cover had silicone around it. The top one had a gasket. I went to the auto part store and got some liquid gasket and put it on. We will see what happens.
    As far as the cracks on the cables, that someone mentioned. There is no cracks from the controller to where It goes outside the truck. Once it turns down to the pump there is about 5-6 cracks in it. What should I do to fix this to get through the rest of the winter? This is the last year of this truck. :cry: I am forced to sell, due to my father selling his house. I am looking a 2006-2007 F250. And I have a plow for that. I was just wondering if there would be a temporary fix until then. Thanks Rich
     
  14. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    As a TEMPORARY repair, you can wrap the broken section of the cable's with electrical tape.This will help keep the majority of the moisture out of the cable's and housing's.
     
  15. Quality SR

    Quality SR PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,828

    Ok, thats what I was thinking. I am going to do that. I seem to think the water got in through the cover that was poorly sealed, and iced up. When i was plowing i couldn't turn the handle it was like stuck. I could only go up and down.. But I will tape that up now..
    Thanks for your advice.