Happy New Year.  Had you told me last year at this time I’d be writing those words in a blog post about a farm tractor, well, I’d a probably suggested that as a colorful ex-boss of mine used to say, “You been smokin wacky tabacky.”  He said that to me a lot.  But here we are with this 52nd post to the blog since its inception back in August. 

Speaking of statistics, my publisher, WordPress, sent a year-end email providing some stats about my blog.  On its blog “Health-O-Meter” it pronounced “That Idiotic Tractor” healthy, that’s the blog folks, not The Pony itself, sorry to say.  They also said you could have filled over 10 jumbo jets with the readers that have visited the blog in 2010.  Please, don’t take this literally and all head off somewhere; I still need you!  Finally, they chose one photo to highlight out of the many I posted in 2010, and it was this one. 

Until I saw that photo, I thought with over a quarter million bloggers, the year-end email was just computer-generated.  But someone with a great sense of humor and wonderful taste in “art” singled that shot out to exemplify my blog.  Well, maybe.  I think later when The Pony is up and running, and some small problem develops in the engine, I’ll always be able to blame it on that crazy rabbit in there.   

I apologize for being gone so long.  I’ll spare you all of the excuses except one.  After The Pony shot his grill off and set that New Year’s resolution, it threw the fear of God and The Pony into me.  So, for the first four days of 2011, I’ve been hard at work down in the garage working on the engine.  I’m still getting stuff cleaned-up, so that when we start putting the engine together we don’t stall at each step with time-consuming prep work. 

I decided to tackle the valve lifters (also called tappets) as my next project.  If you go to the Pony Tech page on the Home Page, you’ll be able to see what the valve tappets look like.  They’re made of steel, and are adjustable through the use of a bolt and a threaded lock nut at the top.   Only two are shown in the diagram, but there are eight altogether, one for each valve.  The lifter’s flat end rides along on the cam shaft, while the adjustable end goes down through one of The Pony’s new valve seats into the valve train compartment where it then engages with one of the valves to move it up and down.  The up-down motion is created by those out-of round “knuckles” you can see on the camshaft. 

I should have taken a “before” picture of the lifters, so you can fully appreciate the improvement, but I have inserted a photo here of the valve train compartment, as first viewed by Gene and me.

 I’ve circled the adjustable end of one of the lifters poking through the valve sleeve into the compartment.  Well, after seeing this shot you can imagine the lifters in their entirety looked like everything else in this picture.  What wasn’t full of gunk, was rusted or pitted.

I kept track of the hours I spent refurbishing the lifters.  It came out to about an hour and a half per lifter, so 12 hours.  The general process included:
*  a first bath in the degreaser solvent.
*  a soaking with penetrating oil, as most of the adjustable bolts and lock nuts were rust-frozen.
*  removal of the bolt and lock nuts.
*  a resoaking in the degreaser.
*  wire-brushing all parts.
*  polishing all parts using 320 grit paper and metal polishing compound.
*  buffing with soft cloth and finally,
*  Lubing the threads of all three parts.
Also included was a trip out to Gene’s.  He ground down one of his thousands of wrenches to the thickness of the lock nut, so that I could get a socket wrench down over the bolt.  This proved indispensable in working each of those bolts free from the lifter.  I know, your thinking “Big deal, tractor boy, you asked for this, now show us the results.”  Alright, without further ado here’s the shot of the refurbished lifters.

I’m telling you, they’re as satisfying to hold in your hand as they are to look at, nice, cold, slick, hard, hefty steel, nothin else like it.  They should now fit back together well with the new valve train parts purchased earlier.

Well, let’s see, what can I leave you with that’s upliftering?  I guess for me, after just having gone through the holiday season, there is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that as so much changes around us, there’s a lot that stays the same.  Hold on to those traditions, hold on to family and friends, hope for good health, and the rest will take care of itself.  Here’s wishing you all a wonderful 2011, and thanks for reading.

Oh, and ps:  I think I saw my first bobcat on yesterday’s morning 40.  He was just the color of his surroundings, all mottled browns, grey’s and black.  About twice the size of a house cat and built real stocky.  When I stopped to stare into his passive, grizzled face, he stared coldly back through green eyes.  As another biker rode up, he shot into the woods like a rocket.


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