I agreed a $75 fee with the towing company and next day, probably because it was early morning and they were not yet busy (or because bobcats are fun) a big tow truck and a couple guys in a pickup came out. They winched the bobcat onto the back of the truck using ingenious pulleys located at varying places on the bed to bring it in at an angle.
Getting it off was more difficult – they raised the bed up and jiggled it and the bobcat slowly slipped down, but slowly is the word. So they hooked a pulley to the end of the bed where it met the ground and winched the bobcat down the deck. Clever.
Cost was the quoted $75 and I topped it to $100. And now I had the bobcat away from the curious and possibly mischievous and all to myself. I was sure the starter had jammed but how to remove it. The engine is surrounded by plate metal underneath and to the side. A starter has 2 bolts. I could reach the top bolt by raising the cab.
But the bottom bolt was inaccessible from the front. I dismantled some components on the top of the engine but couldn’t reach the bottom bolt. Then I tried from the rear – no success. Time to watch utube. And there I found a video of how the owner of a Takeuchi excavator (same manufacturer, different kind of machine) removed his starter. In his case he could access the bottom bolt of the starter but not the top bolt. So he pulled out the engine! Wow, definitely not for me. But unfortunately for him he did not get a new starter, he had his repaired, and 6 months later when it failed (again) he went a different route. He cut through thick plate metal to access the top bolt and succeeded. I was beginning to think this was all too much for me and then the penny dropped. How did he access the bottom bolt (which was my problem)? He mentioned there was an inspection hole in the plate metal which covers the underbelly. So I dived under my bobcat to look again and under the caked mud and dirt I discovered two bolts and a plate (19″ by 21″, pretty heavy) which I removed, and there a short way up was the bottom bolt of the starter.
After first disconnecting the battery cables, I was able to remove the starter without trouble. A very encouraging event was as it came away from the engine I heard a metallic zing, which I knew must be the stuck gear disengaging, so proof that the starter was the culprit.
I ordered a new starter on the internet for $260 and when it arrived I connected the various cables and bolted the starter motor to the engine. The process actually took some time since I had to figure which way to push the starter up to the engine (space around the engine is limited) and how to attach the cables (cables had to be secured before the starter was bolted to the engine because once the starter was in place it was not possible to reach the nuts securing the cables). And then I reconnected the battery cables turned the key, the bobcat started immediately and I drove it to under the cover of the carport.
I wish I could proclaim success and say I switched off the engine, dismounted from the cab and cracked a celebratory beer. But no such luck – when I turned off the key the engine kept running. I siphoned off about 5 gals of diesel and had to leave the engine idling until it used up the remaining diesel and stopped. So now I have another project – to figure out which wires or whatever I must have knocked loose while working on the starter and then make the repairs so I can have a normal functioning bobcat.