Monthly Archives: August 2010

Bad to Worse and Then a Glimmer of Hope

I want to start out with a few thank-yous.  First, this being Sunday and all, I would be remiss if I did not thank God for having seen fit to bring an end to the great Chapel Hill donut famine.  In the four years I’ve lived here, there have been no donut shops within 20 miles.  Maybe for some of you this would not be a problem, but I moved here from Philly, where the words “donut” and “breakfast” are synonymous and donut shops are as common as Starbucks.  This week, just across the street from the UNC campus (these people are not dumb) a new Krispy Kreme opened.  So in the future, if you can’t find me at home, or at Starbucks, that’s where I’ll be. 

Also, thank you dear readers.  The ol’ stat board says that our little blog went over 500 cumulative views earlier this week.  You’ve got horrible taste in what you read, and I appreciate that.  Don’t ever change!

You know, after a few days out at Gene’s tearing The Pony to pieces, I’ve come to the conclusion that if God (he’s on my mind today) had meant humans to be engine mechanics, he would not have given them finger nails.  I’ve got the remnants of black oil under and all around them; they’re all nicked and gouged too.  I go to bed at night and I can actually smell the Texas oil fields.  Bear in mind, when the Pony last had oil put into her, Texas still had some.  I’m just got to  to get this Pony up and running soon; I’m going to begin to hate myself.

It’s funny how almost anything can be traumatic, even something as mundane as trying to revive the Pony.  The “sturm und drang” of the events outlined in the last post just continued on into Saturday.  By the way, even though the Foreign Language Department at Northern Illinois University will deny it after reading this blog, I graduated with a minor in German (major in English) from that fine institution.  Even with that, the only other German that comes readily to mind is something my dad always said to me, “Du bist aber eine Schnotsky;” at least that’s what it sounded like.  To this day I don’t know what that means.  Feel free to leave a comment if you know. 

Now back to the tractor events of Saturday.  Since Gene had again tried to turn the engine over without success, I decided rather than sitting around and waiting for weeks to see if the penetrating oil would free-up the engine’s pistons (the top-down approach), I’d take a more aggressive tack and employ a “bottom-up” technique.  It’s a good thing we didn’t wait, because as the day progressed it became pretty obvious that we could have waited all year and the top-down  approach would not have worked.

I decided to go into the engine from the bottom and work up.  That meant dropping the oil pan, going inside the engine block, unbolting the bearing caps from the rods, and finally knocking the rods and cylinders up through the top.  The first problem we encountered was that we couldn’t get access to all of the oil pan bolts without disengaging the engine from I don’t know what (something).  We finally accomplished that task, and I was able to remove all of the bolts (picture of author breaking more of Gene’s tools follows; I’m not kidding).  I was then staring up for the first time inside the Pony’s gut, a place as dark as Stephen King’s mind. 

More complications ensued, but a measure of success was achieved as we managed to “knock-up” three of the four pistons.  The picture below shows the cylinders popped up and the elusive Gene looking down into the number 3 cylinder skeptically.  By the way, how is it that a guy a couple of years older than me, still has a full head of hair?  My two brothers, also hair; I’ll bet God had something to do with this too.  Dang it! The thanks stop here.  The reason I just said “measure of success” is that 1) we’d only managed to get three of the four pistons up, and  2) although we had expected them to pop all the way out, they only came an inch and a half out.  The shape of the rod kept the rod and piston from coming up and out completely.  We are thinking this is probably “ok” in that since they came out relatively easily the rings pistons and cylinder walls are in decent shape.  The real problem, is that we weren’t able to get the bearing cap off the third cylinder’s rod, and therefore, could not move that piston up.  No matter what we tried we couldn’t get that bearing cap to release, and the real fear is that, that bearing may be “welded” to the cam shaft.  If it’s frozen, that’s serious, and we could be out of business.  I’ve inserted a photo below, which was taken lying on my back looking up inside the engine.  I’ve circled the offending number three bearing cap.  Wait a minute…..isn’t that a bunny!

It could now be a matter of how much money does one want to spend to keep the Pony alive.  So with euthanasia on my mind, another day ended on a down note.

Sunday morning though, while out on my morning bike ride, I kept mulling over the problem of that stuck bearing cap.  In spite of the bad taste those thoughts put in my mouth the cinnamon roll and coffee at the half-way point went down just fine.  Maybe that helped, because on the inward leg of the ride I came up with an idea that I’ll try out on Tuesday, so there’s the glimmer.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Uh oh, The Princess is hollerin’ for me.  I think she’s feeling a bit neglected, because now I’m not only spending time on that idiotic tractor, but this idiotic tractor as well.  Hard for her to complain though, since this one was her idea.  Here she comes; I gotta go.

Bad News for Idiotic Author, Good News for Readers

We’ve been hummin’ right along, post after post, lots of fun, no real bumps in the road,  and, of course that’s why yesterday Gene and I got “slapped.”  Don’t ever start to feel like you’ve  got stuff under control; that’s exactly when you’re about to lose it.  It happened to me time and time again during my working career, during my marriage (oh man!), my biking, my health, you name it, and it will probably keep happening six months after I’ve gone on to my reward.  The Princess, “Andrew, do you remember where dad said to spread his ashes?”  Andrew, “Ah, no mom, but just toss them out back on a really windy day;  some of them are bound to hit the spot he was thinking of.”  Ah jeez…..!

Back to the point, namely how yesterday turned so ugly, Gene and I attacked The Pony’s engine like a couple of hungry vultures.  We pulled the radiator, the fan, the hydraulic pump, the oil filter canister, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t name, all so that 1) we could get at all the engine head bolts and remove the head and 2). we could get something onto the starter jaw  (the thingy a tractor owner could stick a crank into to start the engine) to see if we could get the engine to turn over.  I’m not going to gloss this over, not going to even try to protect you from the ugliness; I’m going to show you what Gene and I saw when we removed the head.  If you have a queasy stomach this might be the time for you to put the cursor over on the down arrow and scroll real fast past the picture that follows. 

On the other hand, if you want to feel just like Gene and I did yesterday, take a good hard look.  Here you go.  Isn’t that somethin?  That orange stuff in the No. 3 cylinder is about a cup of  rusty water, something you really don’t want to see in the cylinder, and then everything else you see on the head is garbage that built-up over the years both while the tractor was running and afterwords while it was “resting.”  I sent this picture to brother Jim my “left coast (CA)” mechanical advisor, and among various helpful and not so helpful observations his email back said, “Looks like The Pony was run hard and put away wet!”  And I am quickly coming to agree, as we dig deeper into the poor ol’ girl’s guts. 

I am no longer under the illusion that one happy day the last person to run this tractor said, “I’m going to put The Pony out to pasture as a reward for good service.”  Believe it or not, I actually entertained such a romantic notion at first.  No, I think whoever last ran this tractor should be reported to the PPA, that’s not the Philadelphia Parking Authority that I was constantly in fear of during my Philly years, no, that’s the Pony Protection Agency.  This was a clear case of pony abuse.  Give me a break, there was absolutely black oil in the crank case and only about half the quantity there should have been, no oil filter in the oil filter canister, water everywhere, but where it should have been, these to name just a few of the punishable offences.

This ugly discovery under the head did not bode well for our attempt to manually turn over the engine, but that’s where we turned next.  Well, we turned, but the poor little engine didn’t.  We both felt maybe we might have seen a small movement, but that could have just been the screw driver moving slightly in the jaw.  I’m not going to lie to you (do I ever?), I was depressed and I could tell Gene was down too.  We cleaned up, put tools away and without any real agenda made half-hearted plans to get together Friday.

On the short drive home all kinds of dismal thoughts ran through my head, most of which saw me giving up the tractor effort and god-forbid my poor readers (all 12 of them) having to be weened off the blog.  It did not help that when I got home, The Princess, on hearing of my despair and sensing the outflow of serious $$$, was less than supportive.  The way The Princess sees it, every dollar spent on that idiotic tractor is a dollar not available for important accessories, like earrings.  My heavens, she’s got more sets of earings than Imelda Marcos had pairs of shoes.  She’ll read this and complain that half of those were bought by me, after various adventures or misdeeds required getting back into her good graces, but still, she does only have two ears.

So I moped around last evening too depressed and actually afraid to do a post and admit to you, that I was on the brink.  Then thinking too, does anyone really care?  The topper, Phillies lost their third straight to the Astros, sheesh; I went to bed.

Funny how a new day sometimes does make things seem brighter.  Never believe that; it’s usually just a mirage.  No, actually I do feel a lot better today, and for a couple of reasons.  First, I ran into some biking friends at the half-way point of my morning ride.  I’m going to give a little plug here for The Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro, NC.  This is a great little co-op where you can get breakfast made to order, 7 days a week, this breakfast made with eggs that came from chickens that have actually had their feet on the ground.  This is always my favorite part of the ride, my little reward.  End of plug.  Anyway, Joe, one of the riders, mentioned that he’d been enjoying reading my blog posts and complimented me on my writing.  We went on to talk about the whole tractor adventure, including the recent set-back, and shared the story with the other riders; it was fun.  The conversation made  me realize how “That Idiotic Tractor,” something I used to view as rather impersonal, had actually brought me closer to some people.

The second little beacon of light came from a phone conversation with that idiotic brother, Jim.  Who would have thought that the same guy who tormented me back in the 50’s would turn out to be a worthwhile advisor half a century later.  Although I guess one could ask why it took him 50 years to be of some use.  His experience though as the restorer of antique vehicles (he’s done at least three Model A’s and is now working on the town’s antique fire truck), is invaluable at this juncture.  I just wish he wasn’t in CA, while I’m in NC.  He gave Gene and I some advice on an alternative method of trying to get the engine to turn over.  And, if she still won’t turn over, Jim explained how with the engine in place, by going up through the bottom, we can push the pistons out and thereby be able to work on the cylinder walls and pistons, also the valves.  This would not be perfect by any means, but could get us up and running.

So, to close out and with reference back to the headline, this is going to mean a lot more work for me, but a lot more posts for my lucky readers.  Don’t be depressed, we’ll get there!

The Work Begins and Reality Sets In

With the last  post, That Idiotic Tractor hit a major milestone, 10 posts after 3 weeks in operation, well alright, 2 weeks of operation and one week on vacation.  I’ll try to keep posts coming on a fairly regular basis, but here are a couple of things to remember:
1.  You’ve got to be careful with your comments; if I get the idea that people are actually reading my posts, it only encourages me.
2.  If you want to save some time and stop wondering, has that idiotic author done a new post? I’ve included a new “widget” on the home page where you can subscribe to this humble blog; don’t worry, it’s free!  All you have to do is stick your email address in the box.  Then WordPress, my so-called publisher (ha!), sends you an email which in essence says, “Are you sure you want to subscribe to this tissue of lies and half-truths?”  Then you click on a URL in that email confirming that, yes, you are that stupid, and you’re done.  I just signed-up her majesty, The Princess, for her very own subscription; I know, I know, you think  I’m spoiling her.  I try.

Enough blathering and on to real tractor news.  Yesterday afternoon I went out to Gene’s, and there he was out by The Pony; I’ve told him before, “Don’t feed The Pony apples (it’s the gas), but he doesn’t listen.  Actually, he’d just removed the tarp, and had brought out a supply of wrenches to get started with.  With his hands and various wrenches, he appeared to be taking a “top-down approach,” so I thought, cool, I’ll start at the bottom and drain the oil and see what all comes out, kind of expecting the worst.  

So I’m down there underneath looking for, then finding the big nut “thingy” that you turn and remove, find it and, oh man it’s big.  But no problem, Gene’s got a wrench for every job, and I carry out this 30 lb tray of tools (one of dozens) and start messing around trying to find a socket that fits.  I was thinking, this will be great, something built in 1952, good, solid machinery, probably all SAE nuts and bolts… but no; I find out that a metric socket fits perfectly, then remember, the dang Canadians, they built this thing, the whole thing is going to be metric.  Oh well, looking at the bright side, I’ve already learned something today. 

I’m still down there pulling and pulling on this fairly long-handled wrench, getting pretty good torque, and not getting anywhere, so I say “Gene, under here the “righty-tighty, left-loosey” thing (note this technical term I’m throwing around) applies doesn’t it?”  He looks down, and says, “Yes, but you’re pulling the wrong way.”  Fine, my first mistake, no biggy, and moments later I’m rewarded with a rush of pitch black oil flowing into the drip pan.  There isn’t much of it, and two things occur to me.  First, the good thing, that this is all oil and no water or other extraneous matter.  Second, the bad thing, if this is what’s been flowing into the gulf all summer long, I’m never eatin’ shrimp again.

Ok, with that job done, I seal her back up and check out what Gene’s been up to on top.  Holy #%$*%@!  The top half of engine is missing, and Gene’s sticking something sharp into a whole where the manifold used to be and saying, “Look at this stuff in here clogging these ports up; it’s like mud,” and he continues gouging out big gobs of this “mud.”  “We’re going to have to take off the head and see what else is in there.”

At this point it strikes me that this isn’t looking good, and more than that, this Gene is quite a “taker-aparter;” god help us, I hope he’s as good a “put-it-togetherer.”  “Don’t worry,” he says, “I got a box I’m throwing everything into over here.” 

It was about this time that Gene’s wife, Lynn (lovely lady, don’t know how Gene got her), calls from the mailbox that Gene has a big envelope; sure enough, it’s the Operating and Servicing Manual we probably should have at least glanced at a bit before starting on this project.  So alright, with removal of the head, the next step on the agenda, I told Gene I needed to call it quits for the day; I’d promised The Princess dinner at The Carolina Inn (fabulous as usual), so after a little clean-up I was on my way.

It was later that evening, as I relaxed in my favorite chair, that I started seriously looking through the manual and became concerned.  First, the Phillies were clinging to a slim 2-1 lead in a game against the Astros, and second, I read the warning language on page 11 of the manual:  “DO NOT ALLOW NUCLEAR PHYSICISTS TO SERVICE THE TRACTOR.  FAILURE TO HEED THIS WARNING COULD LEAD TO IRREPARABLE HARM!”  Oh noooooo, Gene is a nuclear physicist! He’d told me that last week while we were clearing brush in the woods.  I blinked my eyes a couple of times, read the warning again, and it said nothing like that….I had fallen asleep.  Also found out that while I slept the Phillies blew their slim lead and lost the game, 3-2.

Flash Back 3, I Mean Way Back

Dear readers, as you may suspect from the headline, there isn’t a lot of current tractor news to report, but there is some, and I’ll get there in a minute.   First, a few “housekeeping” items:
1.  I have edited the “About” page to include a little bit more information about me and the rest of the cast of  That Idiotic Tractor.
2.  Our little blog has not yet gone viral, but its got the “sniffles.”  Google has found us!  So, if you’re just too lazy to put in the www or http whatever into your browser, you can now put the words “that idiotic tractor” into Google, and up she’ll come.  Or, lets say you’re talking to a friend (on your cell phone, while you’re driving, which is where you do all you’re talking when it’s not really of any import), and for some unfathomable reason the thought pops into your head and you say “Ooh, you’ve just got to see this new blog I’ve been reading,” you can just tell him/her to stick the words up…wait that’s not coming out right…how about “…input the words into Google.”
3.  I got a nice comment from Gene Tencza (not my Gene) advising that he’d added a link in his web site:  http://www.retiredtractors.com referring his readers to mine.  He’s really got an antique John Deere web site, not M-H, but we don’t have any green/yellow prejudice here and appreciate the referral.  Thanks Gene. 
4.  Finally, thanks to frequent reader, Steve, for his very clever encouragement: “Keep twisting the Pony tale;”  I love that.

I wasn’t sure whether you’d prefer the tractor news next, or last (or never!), but I’ve decided, let’s go with the flash back first.  I thought it might be fun to go back to 1952, the year the Pony came off the assembly line up in Canada, eh?  It was actually a pretty amazing year.  The Korean War was raging, it was an election year, and I turned 5 years-old.  Below is a brief list of the year’s high lights, with the ones I thought really important in bold:
* The first “Today Show” airs with Dave Garroway.
* Dick Button performs the first triple jump in competition during 1952 Winter Olympics.
 * Sam Snead wins the Masters.
* My older brother, Jim, pinches me all during church and I coin the phrase, “Mom, he’s picking on me!”  Check it out, have you heard of it being used anywhere before 1952?
* Herman Wouk wins the Pulitzer for The Caine Mutiny.
* Dragnet premieres with Jack Webb.
* Clarence Birdseye markets frozen peas.  Huh?  How does this make the list.  Have you ever tasted worse peas than frozen?  Even canned are better.  But man this reminds me of pea shooters, Jeez do you remember those?  And corn guns, they actually shot unpopped popcorn kernels; don’t see those anymore; “They’ll put your eye out!”  My god, long car trips, before interstates, back up to Minnesota, shooting peas out the window of the old Buick, but I get ahead of myself; that wasn’t until 1955.
* Eisenhower elected president.  Just a fact.  Readers, for your information and ease of mind, this blog will remain strictly apolitical.  Republicans, Democrats, etc., have you noticed, the world just keeps on a spinnin’.
* I’m sitting in kindergarten class (Randall Elementary, Waukesha WI), no desks in kindergarten, and from underneath the dress of the little girl next to me comes an increasingly alarming flood of pee.  I’m too embarrassed to say anything and yet, don’t want to become Noah in a sea of pee, so I inch further and further away, and just miss getting swept away.  Why is it that to this day, this the one memory I carry with me from kindergarten?
*
The maiden flight of the B-52.
* In London 4000 to 8000 people die from smog.  I don’t know, that’s a pretty wide range, makes me wonder about this fact.
* Those of you who are 1952 aficionados have probably been waiting for this one, and here it is:  in 1952 Mr. Potato Head is introduced, and is also the first toy advertised on TV.  Woo hooooo!
The Princess, while attending Assumption BVM on the south side of Chicago has picture taken on a pony, but not The Pony.  If I get enough requests, I’ll print this picture in a future post…dont disappoint me; I need this to be your fault. 

Alright, on to tractor news.  After the Pony was deposited at Gene’s, he immediately left town for an extended time.  Do you think there is any connection between these things? 

The next real step is to find out if the Pony’s engine will turn over.  For my readers who are not “gear heads,” (neither am I) this means simply finding out whether the pistons will go up and down (and, therefore, aren’t frozen) rather than actually starting the engine.  So under advice of counsel (mechanical, not legal), my first job was to remove the spark plugs, and blast a decent amount of penetrating oil through the spark plug holes, thereby improving the odds of getting her to turn. 

On Friday I tried to remove the plugs and couldn’t make ’em budge, so I applied penetrating oil all around each of them.  I’ve inserted a photo here, but when I look at it, it appears as if I’m thinking, “My hand is stuck in here, and I can’t get it out.”  Saturday I returned, tried again, but still no luck.  Sunday I went out, and “bingo,” one of them came out.  The others still wouldn’t budge, so I added a breaker bar  (thanks, Gene) to my wrench, applied all the incredible strength I wish I had, and finally got the other three out.  Gobs of oil have been sprayed into all the holes, and we’ll now let it sit for a while before seeing if the old girl will turn over.  I’m thinking that when Gene gets back (You are coming back, aren’t you Gene?) we should also drain the old oil from the crank case and maybe remove the manifold, because if there’s water in the engine (and I think there is) that isn’t doing us any good.

Also, a little bit of good news, I brought my air compressor out and filled all the tires.  Incredibly, three of the four are holding air, with the left rear leaking from the valve.  With some luck we might be able to get that baby out with a valve tool, clean it up, retighten and have four inflated tires.  I’ll let you know.

Uh oh, on proofing these changes I noticed that in the revised “About” page, The Pony gets second billing and the Princess, third.  I’m going to take a chance and just leave it.  Ya think she’ll notice?

Pony’s New Domain, This Time for Real!

Wednesday started out well.  I’d been called for jury duty, but on calling in in the morning, I got a reprieve until Thursday.  I thought hopefully that maybe this would be the Pony’s day for a reprieve as well.  With the day free, I started calling towing companies and ended up making arrangements to meet a driver at the woods.  I asked my wife Cindy (aka The Princess) if she wanted to join me in the woods for the attempt to domesticate the Pony.  I should explain here that a couple of weeks ago, before I started working diligently in the woods, a news item had appeared in the local rag (The News and Observer) pointing out that North Carolina, and The Triangle area in particular were among the worst for Copperhead snake bites.  They are not deadly, but their bite can cause paralysis of limbs and even lead to amputation.  Having read this article, The Princess simply rolled her eyes as if to say, I’m not joining you on this fool’s mission.

Uh oh, I feel a digression coming on, and there’s no one here to stop me.  Sorry, I’m just going to have to give in to it.  The reference to the copperheads reminded me of James Taylor’s song “Copperline.”  Mr. Taylor spent part of his formative years in this area, and he wrote that song about the area surrounding Morgan Creek.  I can see Morgan Creek from my back porch and often go hiking in the woods along its banks.  In his song, Mr. Taylor speculates on why the area might have come to be called the copperline,  mentioning in particular the copperheads and the stills (with copper coils) that used to be operated illegally in these woods.  I’ve come across what I believe to be the remains one of those old stills in the woods very near where the Pony has been resting for so many years.  Ok, after taking one of my digression pills, Sidetrackocillin, I’m feeling much better and can move on with the story.    

During the hour or so I spent with the tow truck driver, Gary Talbert, I gained new respect for tow truck jockies and for Gary in particular.  I also got the impression from talking with him that if you want to know anything about your area and the people who live in it, ask a tow truck driver.  When we were darn near stymied by two giant pines and could have used a saw, Gary knew the manager of the adjoining property and called to see if we could borrow a saw.  But when the neighbor ended up not being available, Gary said, “Well, before we give-up on this, lets give ‘er one more try.”  I pushed in Gary’s right, rear view mirror, pulled back on a small tree and Gary jockied his rig expertly between the two pines with only a couple of inches to spare on either side.

I was so nervous and excited through this whole process that I was afraid to take out my camera.  But when the truck was finally in position, I pulled it out and took the shot that is inset here.  When Gary saw the Pony, he recognized it for the true diamond in the rough that it is and looking her over, offered appreciatively that “Man, you don’t find ’em like this  no more!”  From this point on things got a lot easier.  Here’s a shot of the Pony being winched up onto the flat-bed.  After she was all the way on board and chained firmly in position it was time for the cautious drive out.  At one point I had to jump up on the bed and hold up a tree limb, so that it didn’t hit the pony’s stack, then the pushing the mirrors in thing again as we squeezed through those two pines.  After splitting the pines we were in the clear and soon at the gate and through. 

So many times in our lives we use the old expression “We’re not out of the woods yet,” but for once in my life, at this point was able to say, “We are out of the woods, and ain’t that a beautiful sight.”  I had Gary stop for a moment so I could take this next photo.  Then after I locked the gate for the last time it was time to head on down the road for the five-mile trip to Gene’s place and the Pony’s new “domain.”  Gene wasn’t home when we arrived, but Gary let the Pony down near the prearranged spot next to the garage, and Gary and I rocked and pushed it the last few feet.  While we were unloading at Gene’s, Gary proved his knowledge of the area again by noting that the folks that owned one of the neighboring properties had boarded horses.  To this I responded, “Yeah, and now Gene is right there with them, he’s  boarding a Pony too!”  One last picture below shows the Pony sitting comfortably at Gene’s.  I thought seeing her there that she looked a lot less decrepit than she had back in the woods.  Gary and I shook hands and he was on his way, but if you ever need to get any vehicle out of a tight spot, or if you just have a question about the people and places of the greater Chapel Hill area, give him a call at (919) 971-6207. 

Gene sent me an email late yesterday saying he’d ordered an operator’s manual for the Pony.  I hope eventually we’ll be lucky enough to need that manual.  By yesterday evening Gene had also thrown a cover over the Pony, and for the first time in many years she’s resting comfortably at a real home.  Speaking of many years, as Gary winched the Pony up on the bed, an old, corroded penny from 1979 fell out.  I know that doesn’t mean a lot, but if that penny had been much later I would have been surprised.  The Pony’s gotten her reprieve after a long, long time.  Now, we’ll she run?  If you’ve got an opinion on that, leave me a comment.

I Can See Clearly Now

For those of you who waited so patiently through the author’s vacation, you are now to be rewarded with actual tractor news.  Yesterday Gene and I met at the woods with our purpose being to clear a way back to the tractor.  At the road there is a rusted, metal gate, which was chained and locked by two locks, one all rusty and likely belonging to a previous owner of the land and the other locked directly to it with the initials of our local utility on it.  The day before, I had hack-sawed the chain and linked yet a third lock to the others, so that Gene and I and eventually the tow truck could get through.  So, after we got through the gaggle of Pony fans waving their “Free the Pony” signs, we were able to walk right in and get to work.  Actually there were no fans, but there was a dog there that left a “present” right by the gate, which as is always the case, pulled my shoe directly into it like a tractor (hey cool, tractor!) beam.

I used to watch the TV show This Old House a lot and heard the phrase “sweat equity” so often that eventually I was sick of hearing it.  But I’m going to roll it out again here, because our work to clear the old logging road that led back to the tractor truly fit the expression in a most literal fashion.  It was 97 degrees yesterday and I mean it was so humid you could see the moisture in the hazy air and there wasn’t even a whisper of breeze.  I love being in the woods, and noticed after we’d been in there for a while that the birds got used to our presence and began to sing.  Most notable were two Carolina wrens that set up a loud back and forth on either side of us; ounce for ounce they are one of loudest birds we’ve got here in the Piedmont.  The picture you see here is of Gene MSW (my secret weapon) cutting one of the fairly substantial fallen logs blocking the road.  I cut a lot of smaller growth and pulled the cut vegetation to the side, while Gene did the real heavy cutting.  In this manner we kept working our way further into the woods with our goal gradually coming into sight.  At one point though, I asked Gene if I could try out the chain saw so that he could take a shot of me looking like I actually was doing some of the work.  With his approval, I took the saw, leaned over and immediately killed the engine.  On my second try (see inserted photo) I cut some fairly minor underbrush and in the process broke the chain saw.  For those of you who know me through biking, note the item hanging out of my back pocket, which has a name, but which will go unmentioned here.  We spent the next half hour, I’m sorry, Gene spent the next half hour, fixing the chain saw.  After that, Gene did all the chain saw work and I was his lackey.  By the time we were done the sweat “equity” was palpable, and we had each finished two bottles of water.  I would continue to drink water, Coke, etc. like crazy until I wet (excuse me, went) to bed last night. 

The reward for our work was the cleared road shown in the final photo below.  The Pony looks so much a part of the forest in this shot that I told Gene I almost felt like we should leave her there.  At the same time, doesn’t she look like she’s ready to head on down the road all by herself.  With that concern on my mind, I was careful to lock the gate on the way out of the woods. 

There will be more exciting tractor news tomorrow I’m sure, so stay tuned.

Pony1952 Gets New Domain

Loyal Readers, even you disloyal ones,

Don’t get excited by this post title; the change of domain applies to the blog, not the Pony itself.  The Pony still resides happily in the woods.  But, due to the blog’s incredible popularity (ok, maybe it was the $15 I paid WordPress) “That Idiotic Tractor” now has its very own, registered domain:  thatidiotictractor.com.  I’m not lyin’; go there and you’ll see.  While there, take the opportunity to read the most recent posts and even leave a comment if you wish. 

Also, if each of you would send the new domain name to a few friends (even your enemies if you want to annoy them), in no time at all this little baby could go “viral.”  You actually may have to wash your hands after reading.

On the tractor front, Gene and I are heading into the woods tomorrow with his chain saw to clear the way for the impending Pony extraction.   

As always, thanks for reading.