Fire in the Hole!

I should explain that the words that appear in That Idiotic Tractor are not to be confused with actual writing.  As such, no real rules apply.  I say this, because it has been pointed out to the author that in spite of his degree in English, he seems to occasionally misuse the pronouns “I” and “me.”  There is a rationale behind this apparent abuse of our precious language and grammar rules in particular.  From the first post of this blog, I have  tried to be sensitive and have taken care that these posts not just be all about “me.”  To that end I pretty much just let the pronouns rip with the conscious intent of giving them both equal time.    Just from a cursory review it would appear that “I” has an edge on “me.”  Now if you’re not buying that explanation (I wouldn’t, but me might) then you can probably lay the errors off on late night proof reading, alcohol and laziness.

I am guilty of another, more serious misuse of words, however.  Inside most engines, The Pony’s included, there are two shafts, the crankshaft and the camshaft.  I like these words; I like saying them and using them; they have a certain power to them, their own machismo.  But I’ve been caught using these words incorrectly, and I’ll try to watch that in the future.  So far, it’s the crankshaft that has been our problem, mainly getting it to turn, and getting it to move the pistons up and down.  The camshaft, I don’t know what the hell that is, but I’ll figure that out when it gets important.

One piece of old business, there has been a request that I insert the photo I mentioned in an earlier post of The Princess on her pony.  So in light of that request and the fact that I have no other “art” for this post, here you go.

Before I interrupted the tractor story with my legal adventure, you may recall that Gene and I had hit a brick wall with what we suspected was a frozen bearing on the “crankshaft.”  We’d gotten three of the four bearing caps off their rods and three of the four pistons pushed up out the top of the head.  While riding my bike on Sunday I came up with an idea for removing that frozen bearing, and Gene and I tried it out on Tuesday.  Instead of striking angled blows at the bearing cap, the plan was to replace the bolts in the cap, just short of all the way in, and then knock straight up on them to hopefully pop the piston and the rod up and thereby disengage them from the stuck bearing cap.  I crawled back under the pony, gave the bolts a few whacks with a steel rod and a sledge and we had the bearing loose.  So, wonderful, the bearing hadn’t welded itself to the crankshaft (Matt, you were right), but unfortunately this was the end of the good news.

The bad news was that although we’d managed to remove the bearing cap, the number three piston had not moved up.  Hmmm.  We proceeded with the same procedure that had freed the other three pistons, namely whacking its rod with a piece of oak and a sledge.  After achieving no success with the piece of oak we moved up to a steel rod and gave that some pops, but still no luck.  So this is where it stood at the end of the day, and I told Gene I’d check with brother Jim to see if he had any suggestions. 

After sending an email to Jim, I decided to tap into another resource.  I went to an antique tractor website called “Yesterdays Tractors” and put the question to its readers in the website’s Forum section.  I honestly thought this would be no more than a shot in the dark, and that my question would sit there unanswered, or at best get one or two half-hearted responses. 

Holy Moses!  These tractor guys are rabid.  Within an hour of posting my question, my computer was pinging with incoming messages.  I’ve got to say that I have new-found respect for tractor people; they’re interested and helpful, they’re full of wild ideas. and they have absolutely no fear.  In other words, outside of being crazy, they have nothing in common with your idiotic author. 

The title of today’s post as defined in Wikipedia came about due to the design and use of early cannons.  There was a small hole in the cannon filled with gunpowder which after being lit would then carry the flame to a larger charge which would then detonate the cannon and do one of two things, either send a canon ball hurtling through the air, or blow-up the cannon.  Due to the potential for the second outcome, it became prudent to give a warning to all bystanders, and thus the phrase “Fire in the Hole” came into being.

I chuckled as the first few suggestions came in.  Although there were some words used that I did not understand, what they seemed to be saying is that I should set The Pony on fire.  What a bunch of jokesters these tractor guys are, I thought.  There were some other ideas too, like the guy who offered to sell me his Pony out in Ohio cheap.  But by Wednesday a definite consensus was building around torching The Pony. 

I’m just going to print verbatim one of the most clearly stated “torch The Pony” suggestions:  “Fill the cylinder with Diesel (fuel), add a splash of gas, set the mixture on fire, (and) drink a cup of Coffee while it burns itself out.”  I like this one for two reasons.  First, it sounds like a recipe with its “splash of gas,” and second, it involves coffee drinking.  But there is also no doubt that it involves fire in the hole, which really scares me.  In fairness, after describing several additional steps, a number of which also involved fire, he did add a little safety message, “As always remove all flammables from the area, remove the gas tank AND GET AWAY, and roll the tractor outside if possible.”  I guess he adds the “if possible,” because if the flames are already too high you’ll just have to leave her in the garage and kiss the whole house good-by.  I asked Gene if he wouldn’t mind just making sure his homeowners insurance was up to date.

There was another suggestion which due to my level of ignorance (huge) I couldn’t tell whether it was for real or a joke, but I’ll print it as well:
“Weld a fitting in an old stripped out spark plug.  Fill the cylinder with oil and hook up a Porta Power pump or a hydraulic hose from a tractor hydraulic valve.  Will not work if the piston is TDC or TBC.  A friend uses a zerk and a grease gun, but I like this idea better.  No messy grease to clean-up.”  Huh?

Aren’t these great!  I should also say here that I am grateful to the “Yesterdays Tractors” readers, as due to their interest in olb, That Idiotic Tractor had its most views ever in a single day.  Thanks! 

Now I want you all to relax and quit rubbing your palms together.  I am NOT going to set fire to The Pony.  While all these “helpful” suggestions were coming in, Jim came through with a less scary suggestion:  pour boiling water into the cylinder, let it stand, and then after a bit rap down on the cylinder to free it.  We will be trying a version of this later today, and I’ll let you know how that goes.  In the meantime, get your coffee; FIRE IN THE HOLE!

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One response to “Fire in the Hole!

  1. Remember the old Cosby monologue where he is “doing” Noah building the ark? He looks up and says (to God, of course) “What’s a kubit?”
    Your responder who uses a certain word reminds me of Noah, as I say, “What’s a ZERK?”

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