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David Horn comments on American Flyer Cattle loader tune-up: David Horn comments on American Flyer Cattle loader tune-up:

Well after too many late nights/early mornings, I believe I have the 771 and 736 working. Here's a brief summary of what I found works. And yes, with the right material and angle of "grain" those little heifers really do like to climb the ramp!

Cow's feet - - just like Barker says, Shure Line paint pad material with plastic backing cut to size. The mohair from the upholstery company might have also worked but their sampler provided too little material for me to iterate often enough to find out. Besides, they are mostly wool so why invite the moth problem all over again. The paint pad material (I can get the product # off the package if you wish) works well and I believe is synthetic. They come packaged with two pads (each about 3"x4") for about$2.99. That gave me plenty of material to experiment with. The most important thing to get right is the off-center grain angle. Barker recommends 15-30 degrees off-center to the grain. I tried 18.75 degrees, 22.5, and others, and ended up with 24 degrees providing the correct amount of lateral and forward thrust. With too low an angle the cows go too straight, with too high an angle they side-shuffle too much and fail to climb the ramp with much vigor. Be certain the base of each cow is clean and flat (not arched). Once attached to the base of a cow (I used ZapAGap which you can undo with a utility knife if you have to), train the fibers by gently pressing the cow down on your palm and moving it in the desired off-center direction. That helps the fibers to lie properly. If accidentally brushed backward, the fibers stand straight up, and the cow "bounces" more than it should. In that state it may not climb the ramp very well. The only draw back to Shure Line is that it's white, not brown or black. However, it doesn't actually look bad, and if you wanted to dye it that might work. The net-net is to use a material that is dense with little fibers which are relatively short and soft. Remember to flip your template over to produce black-cow feet if you first make it for cutting out brown-cow feet.

Ramp material - - 400 grit sand paper works great, but doesn't always lie flat enough after lifting and lowering the ramp, so I ended up using Fine grit emery cloth. It's a little heavier, lies flat, and the cows climb it fine.

Pen material - - I didn't have to replace any, but thought I'd comment that its important to have it centered and flat. You can center it by loosening and adjusting the solenoid's mounting screws. I "tuned" mine in terms of laying flat by gently bending the solenoid's mount so as to press down at the point it attaches to the mat, and to ensure the mat was level across the pen.

Ramp guides - - I added a 1/2"x 3/16" piece of Popsicle stick to both outside edges of my ramp. Each piece projects out the end of the ramp by about3/16". These work great and are very helpful in preventing either door from closing while loading or unloading the cows, plus they help align the matting in the car with the mat on the ramp for smooth entry and exiting. They do not hit passing cars when the ramp is up, and protrude just far enough into the cattle car to block the doors and tap down the car's interior flooring material.

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