Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tractor trouble

Recently the larger of our two tractors failed to start after loading wood. It is a JD 990 that has performed flawlessly for the past 6 years or so. My first guess was the 15 amp fuse, but it seemed to be more of a battery problem. I took the battery to a local chain store, and they tested it and said a cell was dead. I bought a new battery, went home and installed it and the tractor still would not turn over. I then became worried. When I was a little agrarian kid, we always had old tractors and lots of mechanical problems. Some of my earliest memories are serving as a human work light for my Dad, holding the flashlight while he cursed at a stubborn part or broken bolt. Repairs cost money; even if you or a friend to provide the labor, tractor parts are frightfully expensive.

I called a more knowledgeable friend, and we proceeded to analyze the alternator, wiring and fuses. Two hours later, he came to the last possibility; the new battery was not working. After two more trips to the battery store, I finally ended up with a battery that would start my tractor.

While this time and trouble was upsetting, it was less so because we have two tractors. Our second machine is a little New Holland TZ18 we bought earlier this year. While messing around with the battery store, I could still haul wood and do basic chores. My lovely wife and I both agree we would give up the second car before the second tractor. With a wife like that, I am a lucky man.

The TZ18 mows the lawn, and the loader moves manure and other loose materials.

The 990 plows, disks, brush hogs, does hay work,spreads manure, and moves most of the firewood. Here are some "plow cam" views I took back in September.

Here is the 990 plowing the garden last spring.

Many small farmers like animal power. I have a cousin that prefers draft horses and mules to tractors. Others like the older gas tractors, such as the Farmall, Allis Chalmers, and Ford models from the 1940's and 1950's. I am not a generally a believer in progress, but I like modern diesel tractors.compared to a horse, my tractors have never kicked me, bit me, jumped a fence and tramped through the neighbors yard, or taken off in terror upon seeing a bird. My nostalgia for the old gasoline tractors of my youth vanished after the third time we replaced the same parts on our old Ford NAA.

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