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!