Feb 5, 2006

Carpe International Harvester

"Seize the tractor." I hate mechanical things. No, I don't hate them, but there are times that I have a profound dislike of them. Like when they don't WORK.

Yesterday morning was spent fighting with the 1946 International Harvester Super A, or "The Piece of Shit" as I like to call her. See, all I wanted to do was fire it up, unhook the bush-hog, attach the cultivator and go break up a small portion of ground for my wife to start a garden in. Sounds easy. Sounds like about ten minutes of work.


First thing that morning, belly full of oatmeal and iced tea, I arrive at the brother's house in 40 degree weather. Check the tractor for fuel, make sure it's in neutral, and turn the key. She cranks and cranks and cranks, but no ignition. I check a few things like the battery terminals and spark plug caps, check the fuel again, and crank crank crank. No ignition.

This proceeds for about ten minutes, at which point I give up in disgust because the air is thick with the smell of unburnt fuel. Assuming I had flooded her, I start unhooking the bush-hog, which should have been a three minute job.


If you're familiar with tractors, you know what a triple tree is. If you're not, it's easy as pi. The lift on the back of a tractor has three points--one on top, and two at the bottom, usually just inside the back wheels. Every kind of tractor implement hooks up like that--one pin at the top, two at the bottom outside corners. And it's all accomplished with fast-release pins and clips, so trading out utilities is a snap.

Well, the top pin came off okay, but the adjustable bar slipped into it's cradle sideways, so it was hung up. No big deal. I unhooked the bottom two clips, and tried to unhook the drive shaft from the power take-off on the tractor. No such luck. Covered in black grease, dead insects and dirt, it was going to fight me, so fight we did.

For fifteen minutes. It won.

I tried cranking a few times in between fighting with the driveshaft just for fun, but failed miserably there too. My brother and I spent half an hour taking everything electrical apart, cleaning plugs and wires, and it worked. It worked long enough for me to get it to MY house, hook up the disk cultivator and plow around for all of ten minutes, because it was dark and getting bitter cold. I figured that if it ran that evening, it'd run again the next morning.


"Hello, Rental Center? I need a roto-tiller. And a backhoe. I need to dig a hole big enough to bury a tractor."


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