Monthly Archives: October 2010

Dr. Fullofit Misses Nobel by One Vote!

The headline derives from an email received from The Idiotic Brother.  Dr. Fullofit alleges that he got a call from his clinic, The Last Resort Pony Carburetor Clinic, after it received first hand the news about the near miss on the Nobel.  Coincidently, this was the same day that similar “crank emails” were received by Brett Favre, Madonna, Bernie Madoff and Lassie the Wonder Dog.  So, you know, “grain of salt.”

This week I had a wonderful comment from Linda (see homepage) wherein among other things she claims that my entire family is crazy.  At first I thought, what? and then on reflection, had to agree that, yeah they’re all nuts.  Now, I know a lot of my relatives read this blog and may disagree, so if any of you take umbrage at Linda’s claim, feel free to write in with concrete proof that you are not nuts.  I’m pretty sure there’ll be no flood of incoming comments.

Linda also inquired in her comment as to what would occupy my time once The Pony was up and running, suggesting perhaps, nut hunting.  Ha, as just discussed, no need to look far there.  No, it is looking way too far off even to consider what my world would be like with and operational Pony.  Though, I have always admired the look of a freshly plowed field, with the neat parallel rows of furrows and the earthy smell of freshly dug soil.  I may have to start informally looking for the proverbial “back forty” somewhere.

So many things have kept me from getting this post published that I could probably do one of those “Top Ten” lists of all the reasons.  To list a few:
1.  There really has not been much tractor news this week.  I spent maybe an hour out at Gene’s on Wednesday.  I cleaned a bunch of muck out of the compartment where the clutch normally resides.  It contained a combination of  oil and 20 years worth of stuff some animals/insects left in there.  Yuck!  I also removed the tractor’s seat, as it has some small cracks and corrosion holes in it.  So, I’ll take a few pictures and then (I hate this part) consult with Dr. Fullofit on the best course of action.   The doctor trained in the U.S. Navy as a welder, so unlike many things he professes to know something about, he does actually have some expertise in this area.  After viewing a couple of Pony’s at the tractor show, Gene and I believe this seat to be original to The Pony.  While at Gene’s I picked-up some of the parts we had pulled off earlier, so that I can start cleaning those up.  This at least keeps me busy while awaiting the completion of the engine work over in Raleigh/Durham.  Speaking of that work, it was a week ago they said it might be done today, so I just gave them a call.  Buster’s out to lunch, but then we knew that.  The office promised to call me back when they get an update.  This whole thing with the engine makes me nervous.  If I hear something before I finish this post, I’ll include it.
2.  We had the carpets cleaned and I couldn’t get at the computer for a day.
3.  I had this huge email argument with The Idiotic Brother on which English muffins are best, Thomas’s or Bay’s.  He actually thinks those nasty, dry, hard Thomas’s muffins are better than the Bay’s, which have this great soft, moist texture that when combined with the proper (pay attention brother) toasting end up being crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside.  I can never win arguments like this with him.  First, its like trying to talk to a brick, and second since he’s on the west coast, he can always send the last email of the day.  Anyway, I am sure you all have opinions on this important issue, so if you have a view one way or the other, leave a comment.  I’m so sure that everyone agrees with me, that I will promise not to delete any disagreeable comments.
4.  I was struggling all week with this deep philosophical problem.  What do cows think?  I was out doing the morning 40 on Sunday and noticed that when I passed a bunch of Holsteins, their heads moved to follow my progression down the road.  So what were they thinking:
          a.  I see those all the time and none of them seem to have an ass.
          b.  Idiot, probably owns a Pony.
          c.  Where’s Shirley, here for years then suddenly yesterday, gone.
          d.  God, my teats hurt, where’s that dang farmer.
          e.  When I signed up for this pasture, it sounded so great, but its all just
                chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, poop, chew, chew, chew,  well
                you get my drift.
          f.  From the one whose head didn’t turn, will interest rates EVER go up?
By the way, when I was looking up the proper spelling of Holstein, I was amazed to see that the correct pronunciation of this breed is “hole stine” with the ei getting the proper German pronunciation of a long i.  Have any of you (even those of you of German descent) ever pronounced it that way?

Finally, to wrap up, I saw something I just love, something that sums up for me the busy, hectic lives we lead.  A car coming toward me on Russell’s Chapel road, a long way off I see something on the roof.  She’s not going slow, maybe 4o mph, and as she approaches I recognize it.  It’s her cup of morning coffee, not a mug, but a nice dainty, little cup, in a saucer rattling on down the road.

Thanks for reading.

The Doctor is out, I Mean Way Out

My goodness, I was doing the morning 40 Sunday and about 15 mi into the ride I heard this ruckus in the woods to my right.  I thought it was deer, since there everywhere, especially early in the morning, but then streaking out of the woods, I mean “bang” right in front of me was a wild turkey as big as a Greyhound Bus.  Man he was beautiful.  Up the road just half a mile I saw two hunters, and I stopped to relate the news, just to rub it in.

A couple housekeeping items.  I missed it actually, but a few days back “That Idiotic Tractor” reached the 2000 view mark.  I’m going to speak to The Princess, but I think this deserves some type celebration.  Maybe The Princess gets a return trip to her Salon, Bangs-o-Beauty, and I get to have  game 6 of the Phillies NLCS series replayed.  Only this time in the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded, Ryan Howard doesn’t just watch strike three go by.  Argh!!! 

Second, the Idiotic brother in CA, caught me messing with the Cost-o-Meter.  He says I need to include the cost of shipping the carburetor out to the Last Resort Pony Carburetor Clinic.  So, you’ll note there’s 10 bucks more on the meter today. 

 And c.  lookie what I spied on one of my rides last week.  It’s an International Harvester, Farmall 100, kind of one step up in size from The Pony.  Now I admit, it isn’t quite as cute as The Pony, but this may be a fall-back position if things with The Pony turn really sour.  Nothing to The Princess on this, right?

Alright listen, back to business.  You’ll recall that last week it looked like Dr. Fullofit out in CA was really making some nice progress on the carburetor, and I shared some images of his work with you in the last post.  Well, by Friday he finished the job and sent some pictures along to prove it;  I’m placing those below.

Some of the things he had to do along the way:  1. bead blast the whole thing to remove all the rust (that’s like sand blasting only with tiny beads of glass), 2. fill the two holes in the carb that showed up after the bead blasting, 3. drain the 20-year-old gas out of the carb floats, 4. find and seal the leaks in the floats by resoldering, and I’m sure a bunch of other things that doctors do, but don’t talk about.

Then he had to stitch it back together and prime and paint it.  Now he claims to have accomplished this in only a couple of hours, and this may be true.  He didn’t get the carb from me until Wednesday and he put in the mail back to me on Friday.

This fast progress may strike you as “the carb wagging the engine,” but the doctor has recommended 12 weeks of carburetor rehab for “Carbie” before it can go back to work, something about exercises and lectures on not drinking dirty gas.  So Gene and I should have time to get the engine put back together by the time that rehab is completed.

Something tells me we haven’t heard the last of Dr. Fullofit, so don’t be surprised if he schedules another appointment.  I can hardly wait.

Thanks for reading!

Progress at the Clinic

Those of you who tune in to the website may have noticed a little up tick in the Pony Cost-o-Meter.  Feeling very optimistic one day this week I ordered a gallon of Ferguson red paint.  I finally found a place that didn’t charge twice what the product cost, for shipping.  So I went crazy and ordered a whole gallon, and that set me back $51, thus pushing the cost-o-meter up to $342.

Friday I screwed-up the courage to call the machine shop.  The word from Robert is that the guides were installed in The Pony’s engine block, but that the engine had not left for the other shop in Raleigh until Friday.  He’s guessing now it could be another week before I get a call, nothing very specific.  That engine is so far out of my hands it might as well be in China.

On a more up beat note, that idiotic brother in California may be the real thing after all.  I got an update from the Last Resort Pony Carburetor Clinic Thursday which was pretty encouraging.  I’m going to insert a copy of that update below, but with the same reservations as expressed in my previous post.  Here you go:

Have a dang good day?  What doctor writes like that?  Writing aside, my faith in the good doctor was restored when I viewed the “cat scan” images he provided.  I’ve inserted those below for your viewing pleasure as well.

You need to do two things to fully appreciate these pictures.  First, go back to my post of August 18, and look at the horrible condition the carb was in before I sent it to the “clinic.”  Then once you’re back, click on the individual images, so that you can really appreciate the way it looks now.  Note the two arrows that the doctor has helpfully made, which point out the holes he mentioned in his update.  This is fabulous progress.  I am in awe!

Unfortunately, the good doctor couldn’t just leave it alone after the repairs; he had to go and get negative.  What’s this about a $300 co-pay?  I’ll have to go back and read my policy; there’s got to be some kind of “Pony Loophole” in there somewhere.

Well, stay tuned; I’m still getting emails from this doctor (read quack).  I wonder if he’s even a Massey Harris approved provider.  He may be “out of network”.  Hell, he might be out of his mind.  The latest is that he says he’s got all kinds of extra parts.  Extra parts!  Imagine, you come off the operating table and there’s some kind of extra organ or bone just lying around, sheesh!

Now, I’m going to ask you for a favor, two actually.  First, we here at That Idiotic Tractor are finding it hard to meet expenses.  Readership is down as are advertising revenues.  If you are not too embarrassed to admit that you read this, please recommend this humble blog to a friend.  Second, I get the impression that the doctor works better with some encouragement, so if you could send a comment along which essentially says how wonderful his work is, something, anything, it might help get the work completed and keep the co-pay down.  But if you are too shy to admit that you read this drivel, don’t worry about it, I am truly happy that you’re reading.  Thanks!

Raising the Dead

In my last post I told you how I had “caved” and sent The Pony’s carburetor to my brother Jim.  I had hardly returned from the PO when I got a letter from one Dr. Fullofit that coincidently has the same email address as my brother.  I am going to insert that letter here in its entirety, with the following reservations:
1.  Ordinarily in this post I try to print what amounts to some fairly close proximity to the truth.  I make no such representations with respect to the good “doctor’s” letter.
2.  The statements and opinions expressed by Dr. Fullofit are his and his alone, and neither That Idiotic Tractor, nor its author take any responsibility for them.

All right, that said, here’s the “doctor’s” letter:

Well, that was certainly some load of crapola.  You know, my parents were planning on just having me as their first child, but they thought (as a trial run, so to speak) they’d have Jim (Dr. Fullofit) to make sure they got me just right.  I’m sure you can see from his letter that it was a good thing they got that first effort out of their systems. 

And listen, since sending this letter, he’s already been following up with numerous emails hinting at all kinds of subtle little problems that might be an issue for him.  I’ll keep you posted on how the work at the LRC Clinic proceeds.  Today I will be calling the machine shop for a status report on the engine work.  After the last call where those “doctors” said they needed an in-person meeting, I’m kind of dreading today’s call.  Cross your fingers”

Thanks to Dr. Fullofit for providing my readers with some fiction, and thanks to all of you for reading.

That Old Chestnut?

I was out doing the morning 40 on the bike Sunday and made a stop at a grove of trees.  In the Spring I’d seen what looked like an orchard on a new leg I started doing after a bridge had closed for repairs.  But as each fruit season passed without seeing anything ripen, I began to wonder.  On Sunday it appeared that where I had once seen green things on the trees, now they were gone.  I leaned the bike against a fence post and rolled under the barbed wire; that’s what that space is for under the lowest strand.  I headed for the closest tree to see if there were any remains of the mysterious harvest, and I came across a bunch of incredibly prickly hulls, most just hulls, but a few with something inside.  I took a stick and popped open one of hulls and mystery solved, chestnuts.  I’ve included a picture here of the find.

You’re all probably thinking, well of course dummy, but this was all new to me.  The bigger nut on the left came out of that hull you see, and the three smaller ones all came out of one pod.  So there would seem to be all possible combinations, which I am going to research tomorrow when I return with a backpack to see how many I can collect.  This so much reminds me that I haven’t changed much since I was  7 or 8 years old. 

We lived  in Waukesha, WI in the 1950’s, and there was a cow pasture at the end of the street; I’m telling you, many adventures took place in that cow pasture and the woods beyond.  But specifically I remember discovering an old hickory tree at the far end of the pasture.  We kids were so amazed that something just out in the pasture could actually yield something edible…and free!  By the way, that pasture is the place where I learned how to roll under the barbed wire.   Anyway, we went home, got nut crackers and sat under that tree cracking nuts until our little fingers hurt…and all that for such a small treat. 

All this goes to show that we can grow old, but we don’t really change that much (at least I haven’t).  And there’s your “old chestnut.”

Well, thanks for reading………………………………….hey, HEY, no tractor news?

Oh, right, I forgot; that’s what this blog is supposed to be about.  Take a look at this picture.  I don’t bother to warn you anymore, because if you have been reading these posts right along you’ve become accustomed to ugly shots like this.  But still, those of you with courage, put your cursor over this photo and click.  Isn’t this just typical of what The Pony has been throwing at us?  For those of you who don’t recognize this, it’s the inside view of the carburetor, and, yes, that orange stuff is 15-20 years of rust build-up.  On top of that, the carburetor floats apparently have leaks, because there’s some gasoline of the same vintage sloshing around inside them.  Here’s a shot of the lovely leaking floats.  Aren’t they cute!  They look like a pair of little squirrel lungs don’t they?    Too bad they’ve got fluid in ’em, just as if they had their own little case of pneumonia.  These discoveries led to a series of emails and phone calls with brother Jim.  The way these work is, I send an email and he sends one back.  Then in rapid succession he sends 3 or 4 more all starting out with something like, “Oh, and don’t forget to…”  This is a classic case of a guy who knows too much.  The problem arrises because he thinks that if he imparts all that information to an engine moron like me, it will somehow do some good.  I finally called him last night for more help, and he said bluntly “send it to me.”  I could sense some frustration, even though in both emails and phone calls he is a man of few words, but still I said, “Are you serious?”  When he confirmed that yes, he would fix it up and send it back, it was another one of those moments (of which there’ve been several) that gave The Pony a new lease on life.  I’m not kidding, I’m watching that Pony Cost-o-Meter, and I can’t just keep throwing money at everything.

You can’t believe how fast I boxed that thing up (yes, including the home-made strawberry jam) and stuck it in the mail.  But on the way home from the PO, the guilt started to set in.  Gene is helping me, Jim is helping me.  There is a great scene in the movie My Cousin Vinny where at the end of the trial Vinnie laments to his girlfriend that he only won the case because he had help on it.  Marissa Tomei’s character does such a great job with the response, but it was to this effect,  Isn’t that just terrible, you win case after case after case, you become famous, you make lots of money and for all of this you have to say THANK YOU.  POOR YOU! 

She’s right, of course, THANKS GUYS.  You’re the greatest!

And thanks to all of you for reading.  Please click here.  (Don’t worry, it’s ok to click it, it’s just a little theme music.)

Commies in Chapel Hill!

Ok, ok, I’m back.  The visit with son Andrew turned into a road trip to the mountains, so admittedly I’ve been shirking.  The trip was great though, with leaves turning nicely above about 4000 ft on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  On this trip we covered the highest section which included a stop at 6053 ft above sea level. 

The following picture is an example of why you should never let other people use your camera.  They always take better pictures!

This shot was taken at the half-way point of a trip on the Great Smokie Mountains Railway.  The sign indicates we are at an entrance to the Appalachian Trail, which we walked a little while waiting for the train to head back.  The shot at the top of the post shows the Blue Ridge Mountains living up to their name.  That’s enough of the slide show.  The trip did have its unexpected developments, like an after dark arrival at a cabin in the woods on which the The Princess quickly wielded her veto power.  And on the way home, a flipped tractor-trailer caused a two-hour stand still on I-40.  This led to the usual, “I have to go potty” (from the author)!  Glad that’s over.  We got home Tuesday night at 11:00pm and put Andrew on the train back to NYC Wednesday morning. 

A couple of house keeping items.  As promised, Andrew added a few items to the web page during his visit.  On the home page you’ll now see along the right side, the Pony Cost-o-Meter where we’ll be tracking the cumulative cost of restoring The Pony.  As of this posting you’ll see I’ve spent $291, which includes the initial $50 cost of The Pony, $50 for towing it to Gene’s,  and $191 for new valves, valve guides and a carburetor rebuild kit.  Cost of degreaser, penetrating oil, lubricants, etc. will not be included,  got to draw the line somewhere, and since its my Cost-o-Meter I get to make up the rules.

Also, you will now see a new page tab at the top called “Pony Tech.”  Believe it or not, this new page was added at the suggestion of The Princess.  She felt that some readers would appreciate a “key” to the parts sometimes referred to in my posts.  So on the Pony Tech page I’ve included two engine diagrams, one showing external parts and the other, internal parts (each including names of all the parts). 

In tractor news, proving once again that timing is everything, about two hours after driving Andrew to the Amtrak station in Durham, the new valve train parts I ordered arrived, thus necessitating a return trip to “The Bull City.”  By the way, the little red Oytota finds its way to the machine shop all by itself now.  Buster, the machinist who’s been messing with The Pony’s engine, accepted the new valve guides and valves, typically underwhelmed.  The process will now go as follows:
1.  Buster will install the new valve guides.
2.  Engine will somehow make its way to another machine shop in Raleigh.
3.  The other shop will install new valve seats.
4.  The engine will come back to Buster for final adjustments to make sure the new valves fit properly in their seats (“Setzen Sie sich!”).
5.  I will pay money for these magically restorative engine procedures (Pony Cost-o-Meter spiking ominously).

I asked Buster when the work will all be done (a “woman’s follow-up question”), and got the kind of answer such a question deserves, “Ohhh, last of next week…maybe.”  I’ll keep you posted, but meanwhile I’ll be starting to work on the carburetor rebuild.

Now what’s this about commies?  Last night The Princess pawed through her massive collection of earrings and selected a suitable pair for our night at UNC’s Memorial Hall for a concert by the Mariinsky Orchestra, fka “The Kirov,” during the Soviet era.  This reference to The Princess’ earrings reminds me of a little story about her jewelery collection.

The Princess has way more than just earrings.  For many years she has been collecting antique mourning jewelry.  Most of this disgusting stuff is made from gold (a pretty nice thing) and human hair (yuck).  She’s got so much of it (and of course modern jewelry too) that it became an issue when we moved to Philadelphia from Indiana.  Our drive out was to take two days, and The Princess was worried about traveling overnight with her “collection.”  Now don’t get the wrong idea, this stuff is only valuable  in The Princess’ mind; we are not wealthy people.  But to alleviate The Princess’ concern we decided to have the jewelry moved by an armored car service. 

As it happens, on the first floor of the high-rise condo building we were moving into there was a bank branch, so the bank had the same building address as we did.  When the armored truck arrived at the building, the driver tried to deliver “The Princess Jewels” to the bank, but the bank would not accept the package saying it had no authorization to do so.  This got everyone scurrying around trying to find a home for the jewels.  We finally got a call from a very nervous desk man at the condo building asking if we would authorize an armored car delivery.  We quickly alleviated his concern by coming down to accept the package, but the whole armored car thing instigated by The Princess caused us to be viewed with heightened interest in the building for sometime thereafter.

But I digress, the orchestra is full of people with names like Vostokov, Shirokov, Litvinov, Mokhov, Bliznetsov, Kharitonov, Vorontsov and well, you get the idea (all very suspicious).  Spell check was so suspicious that it questioned every one of these.  The music they played, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and No. 4, were incredible pieces, very melodic, but at the same time full of drama.  Symphony No. 4 includes a part for a soprano (wow, she was a dish) in the fourth movement. 

The orchestra played so sweetly and the soprano so expressively that I think I figured out what these commies were up to.  I think they have moved on to a new, post-cold war tactic.  Remember the song that Roberta Flack made popular a long time ago, “Killing Me Softly with a Song?”  I tell you, I think these people decided on a sneak music attack; they sure “killed” me.

Thanks for reading.

Horseshoe Smorshoe

I am learning so much!  After cranking out posts for about three months now, I finally figured out how to get more people to view my blog, mention Bernie Madoff!  Normal for my posts is to get around 30-35 views when it comes out, but the last post which described my visit to Bernie and the tractor show yielded 132 views.  My website advisor, son Andrew, says that including any “hot button” words or phrases such as Mr. Madoff’s name will generally raise viewership.  Another post where I got over a hundred hits was the one where I used the word euthanasia in reference to possibly putting The Pony out of its misery.  I’ll admit it, when views go up it makes me happy.  So, in future posts, look for the insecure author to be inserting the occasional reference to something like “5% CD Return, Guaranteed.”

You know a horseshoe is a kind of placebo; it has no real effect, but it makes you feel better (at least for a while).  There are all kinds of placebos out there.  Here’s a real fancy (read expensive) one that our local authorities just installed at a nearby intersection.  You can push that button once, you can push it multiple times, you can push and hold, the guy behind you can occupy a little bit of time too by going through these motions (and he will), and for a while this makes you feel better, you know like you’re actually doing something, but none of this makes a dang bit of difference.  You’re going to wait at that stupid intersection the same amount of time you always have before.

So, although I was hoping the horseshoe might bring some luck, a little dark cloud floated overhead immediately when I called the machine shop, and they said that I’d better come in to take a look at the engine.  This is another Pony good news, bad news thing, and this time I’ll give you the bad news first.  Here’s a shot of the fire deck on the block.

I had a shot that was more of a close-up, but I shook the camera.  Clicking on this photo though will show several real nasty valve seats, with the rest not so good either.  By the way, Buster was adamant that hand lapping the valves was not an option in this case.  So, the engine needs a new set of valve seats installed.  In addition, only 3 valves were salvageable, and all valve guides need to be replaced.  I pinned buster down on the “decking” or “fly-cutting” of the head and firedeck and he said that he thought I’d probably be “ok” on that, but he’ll check again for any warping.  Here’s the good news.

This is a pretty nice looking head, both inside and out.  Buster magna-fluxed it (can’t wait to see what spell check does with that one) and there are no cracks.  Yea!  There is another complication, however, again caused by The Pony’s engine being so small.  The shop does not have  a cutting tool small enough to cut-in the new valve seats, so after the guides are installed, it will be sent over to another shop in Raleigh that does have the right size tool and seats.  

It looks at this point like to get out of these multiple machine shops is going to run approximately as follows:
Clean engine:              $60
Install valve guides:     50
Install valve seats:        80
Valve grinding:              70
Clean-out gas tank:     20
Total                     $280

There is actually some other good non-engine  news.  My secret weapon, Gene, has been hard at work on the starter and generator and he sent me an email last night.  He’s cleaned them both out, got them operational and has even prime coated them for their final coat of Pony red paint.  At least one of us is making some progress.  Thanks, Gene.

The Princess and I are enjoying a week-long visit from our son, Andrew.  We’ll go out to dinner Saturday night to fete The Princess on her 49th birthday, again.  I’m sure she will reign with dignity and grace over all her subjects at the Carolina Inn. 

Andrew is going to help me with some upgrades to the website, so look for those with the next post.  Some of you who usually just read your subscription email may want to actually go to:  www.thatidiotictractor.com and take a look at the site.

Scientific breakthrough:  Scientists successfully train goose to take interest in walking his compound;  goose lays eggs with compound interest. 

Thanks for reading.