Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Grand Day Out

After the wild weather of the weekend, The Princess and I give thanks that we were spared any damage here and want to express our appreciation for all the calls and emails we received from concerned readers, friends and relatives.  To celebrate we took a little road trip today on a beautiful, sunny, 85-degree day.  Our goal was the Tractor Supply Co. store in Siler City.  It was an easy and pleasant 30 mile drive down, and even with the car windows closed and the AC on, the smell of honeysuckle was so fragrant that you could still smell it inside the car.   In no time at all we were there, and here’s the proof.

What I picked-up there was some tractor paint.  I had wanted to get spray paint for the oil pan that still needs painting.  I also bought a quart of their non-spray tractor paint to see if it might get better coverage than the brand I’m using now.  We’ll see, on the next visit out to the Pony when I put the next coat of red on the engine compartment.  When I got back into the car,  I told The Princess that this was just the first of many visits we’ll be making here after I buy the farm.  She looked at me and said, “Yeah right, after you’ve “bought the farm” you won’t be making many trips anywhere.  Hmmmm.

The best part of this pleasant day, was a stop in Pittsboro at the S&T Soda Shop for ice cream.  Fabulous ice cream at an antique soda fountain rescued from a turn-of-the-century drug store.  Great!

I was trying to clean-up the sediment bowl yesterday.  It’s an old-fashioned fuel filter with a metal top, and a glass bowl with a fine mesh screen inside to filter the gas.  I was having trouble getting a build-up of something that looked like a bad case of tooth tartar out of the metal top, so emailed Dr. Fullofit.  His suggestion was to try soaking it in lemon juice, so before we left on our road trip I tossed it in a plastic container to soak.  Holy cow, when we got back the lemon juice was foaming  and had popped the top off the container.  Must have been a nice reaction between the metal and the lemon juice, which in addition to the foaming action did a great job on that tartar.  Here are the before and after’s on that little job.


Yikes, now that I look at these together, I see that I actually lost some metal at the bottom of the throat.  Sure hope that’s not a problem.

Hey, look at Monday’s page from my tractor, page-a-day calendar.

Isn’t that great!  As it says, this is from a French product brochure, but I’m telling you, even with that silly beret can that guy plow a nice straight furrow or what?  It concerns me though, does that say Pony or Puny?  I mean come on, sure it’s small, but it ain’t puny!

Housekeeping Note.  The Cost-O-Meter took a $40 hit with this post.  This covers parts for the distributor and sediment bowl rebuilds and the paint from Tractor Supply.  Current balance on the meter:  $864.  Also along the lines of housekeeping, I came across a couple of pictures that should have been included in my earlier post about The Boehmke Hatchery.  For those of you who hadn’t seen the hatchery, I’m wondering if you pictured it like this.

 That’s a portion of Gramma’s garden in the foreground.  This second one is a shot of my idiotic brothers with Grampa playing with chicks from the hatchery.

You can’t really make it out in this picture, but when I zoomed in on this in photo shop I could see that in the center Phil is giving his chick a little ride on a device used to measure the size of eggs.  Of course, the ever-present cigar in the corner of Grampa’s mouth.  I took both of these pictures with my little Kodak Brownie camera, and judging by Phil’s approximate age of 7 or 8, I’d place this shot in the 1957-1958 range.  It wasn’t long after this that Jim started playing with a different sort of “chicks.” 

Big day for me tomorrow, I go in for what I expect to be my last visit to the orthopaedist.  I anticipate that he will release me to ride my bike again, so Saturday should see me once again cruising the back roads of North Carolina.  Woo hooo!
Thanks for reading.

Rapid Attack Tractor

In the years following WWII, the US fear of the great red menace, the Soviet Union grew to near paranoia.  The Defense Department was constantly running scenarios in which the Soviets would attack the US via numerous means, one of which would have been a land attack launched across the Bering Strait.  In that the Pacific Northwest was in those days relatively “soft,” meaning unprotected, the DOD sought ways in which it could quickly “beef-up” its defenses.

As it considered resources at its disposal, it was obvious to most involved that the US had a major resource of heavy equipment already in position across the US, farm tractors.  An idea that gained some “traction” was to enlist farmers, more specifically their tractors, to aid in a potential defense against ground attack.  The tractors could be invaluable in hauling munitions, men and other supplies, for grading remote airstrips, and in some cases even fitted-out with guns. 

DOD personnel fanned out across the country speaking to farmers, enlisting their tractors and establishing a data base.  For purposes of secrecy, it was decided that there should be no outward indication on any tractor that would let on that this or that tractor was part of the new TDS “tractor defense shield.”  But for government purposes it was decided that buried within the guts of each tractor there should be a designation indicating the tractor’s inclusion in the effort.

I had no idea that the TDS stretched as far east as North Carolina, but as I was tearing apart the distributor this week I came across the letters R.A.T. stamped into a crucial piece of the distributor.  See photo below.

 I shot this photo off to the Idiotic Brother to see if he could supply any background on the stamped letters.  It was a few days later that he came back in an email with the whole story of the DOD’s enlistment of tractors into the TDS.  He said that the letters RAT stood for Rapid Attack Tractor and that only a  small percentage of the tractors involved in The Shield received such a designation.

This Pony’s involvement in the program could explain a couple of things I’ve always wondered about.  Why was the Pony hidden away back in the woods (and finally forgotten), and why was it not fitted-out with any of the typical farm equipment?  Well everything was starting to make a lot of sense to me, so I called the IB to chat about my little CWH, that’s Cold War Hero.  When I inquired about how he had found out all this information, he said that he had done an internet search.  Uh oh, to Jim this meant that he’d gone and looked for the internet, couldn’t find it, so relied on the stuff residing between his two ears.  You may choose to believe this whole story, but I smell a RAT!

Again, I can report progress on the Pony this week.  The little story above alludes to my digging into the distributor.  I’ve done a lot of work on that and now will order a few replacement parts for it.  I think you’ll love the before and after shots below of the distributor that has now been through what I call the “Boehmke.”  The Boehmke involves a soaking in degreaser (lacquer thinner), lots of wire-brushing, sanding and in some cases finishing up with metal polish.  Here you go.

I also made my first trip since last fall, out to Gene’s to work on the Pony.  You may recall that last November, the 23rd to be exact, we had a nice warm day, and I was able to get the coat of primer on the engine compartment, this after hours of degreasing, wire brushing and scrubbing.  Here’s a shot of the primer coat.

Gene took the next shot (with a directing credit to his wife, Lynn) of me applying the first coat of Massey-Harris Red.

That’s “hot” isn’t it?  Can you imagine the entire Pony looking like that?  It’s going to be pretty hard to hide him in the woods looking like that.  Wouldn’t you know it, we had thunderstorms here within hours of my applying the red paint.  But Gene saved the day by putting the tarps back over the Pony before the rain hit.

I just have to relate one other small item.  This is just another of those North Carolina stories where you could not make it up any better.  The headline in our Carrboro Citizen (best newspaper in the Piedmont) read “Chapel Hill Man Steals, Crashes Ambulance.”  Although that headline says a lot, what it doesn’t say is that the man who stole the ambulance was the one the paramedics had gone out to treat!  Somehow, following treatment, he managed to jump behind the wheel, drive-off and after that hit several cars, including a Carrboro city fire truck.  When they caught-up with him, they of course had to put him back in the ambulance and this time took him to the hospital.  The usual tag line, “charges are pending.”

That’s it for today tractor lovers and as usual, thanks for reading.

PS:  Credit to brother Jim for the nucleus of the RAT story.

The Old Pump

The farmer went out the back door and saw two things, his trusty Massey-Harris Tractor sitting over by the barn and the old pump with stars behind the windmill blades.  He took a picture and asked me to include it in this post.
I didn’t quite understand the guy, me being from the South, so when he said “ol (pronouncing it awl) pump” I thought he was talking about the oil pump.  Since his picture didn’t look like any oil pump I’d ever seen, I made this one up using all the pieces of the Pony’s oil pump, which coincidentally when all put together do look a lot like the old pump back on the farm.

It’s so satisfying to bring old parts back to life, taking them from nasty to nice; it’s hard to leave them alone afterwards.  Playing with them a little before putting them back to work gives me a little longer to hold on to them. 

But put them to work I did.  With a little guidance from Dr. Fullofit I assembled the pump, including its to gaskets.  In the process, I applied Black Velvet (that’s Ultra Black gasket sealer to those of you who don’t know “engine speak”) to both sides of the gaskets.  I then bolted the whole shebang onto the rear of the engine.  Here’s a shot of the back of the block, now all buttoned-up.

By the way, keep in mind when you view these pictures that the engine is upside down on the work table.  You can also see here that I have installed the rear oil seal cover, including its newly installed oil seal.  To remove the old oil seal and install the new one, I pulled out the trusty band saw and sawed a wooden disk out of hard pine.  This served as my “punch tool.”  Here are a couple of shots of that process.
With the new seal in place in the cover, I applied the black velvet to the cover’s gasket and then bolted that whole business onto the block. 
***ALERT, ALERT, The Princess just called up here from downstairs to say she was heading out to “When Hairy met Salon,” her latest beauty parlor in downtown Carrboro.  If later you hear that anything has happened to me, it’s likely because I forgot to hold my tongue on her return.  Wish me luck.***

I seem to be doing everything in reverse in this post, but now I’ve got to go back to last weekend to show you how Gene and I buttoned up the engine’s front end.  The following series of shots relates to the install of the timing gear cover.

You see just the cover in the first shot.  After this photo was taken I inserted the oil/dust seal.  In the second shot I am applying the black velvet to one side of the cover’s gasket; both sides were sealed in this manner.  The other shots show the tighten-down (20 ft lbs on the torque wrench) and finally the fully buttoned-up front end.  I must mention too that with regard to getting everything tightened-up inside the timing gear cover, we were having some trouble with the cranking freezing up.  After thinking on it for a few days, Gene was the one that came up with the solution.  Not to get into too much detail, Gene simply put that lock washer that isn’t featured in the Pony Tech engine drawings AT ALL behind the big flat washer and voila!  She turns just fine.
***UPDATE, UPDATE, The Princess has returned.  Oh my, well, in the spring the sheep get shorn.  When I’m down in my wood shop, the rule is “measure twice, cut once.”  It’s obvious to me they hadn’t heard of that rule at the old sal-on.  Please, give me a call in a few days, just to check-up on me, you know, in the event The Princess has taken this all wrong.*** 
But back to the engine, with the front and back closed-up, I’m close to putting the oil pan on.  Need to paint it red first.  Oh, forgot to say that when Gene was over we also got valve train cover and its gasket back on the engine too.  So, I tell you, we’re really making progress.  You know forgetting something like I just did there reminded me of a thought I had last night.

A year ago I bought an iPad when they first hit the market.  I just love that thing and for a lot of different reasons.  But last night The Princess and I were talking about how it has relieved a lot of the frustration that comes from forgettin stuff as we get older.  It serves as a kind of brain booster.  No longer do we stew for hours over, for example, what group performed “Didn’t I”;” it was the Delfonics.  Or what year the movie “Moonstruck” was released; it was 1987.  Or where the hell are all our CD’s invested, man thank God, all that stuff is in the little portable brain.  Like I said, it’s just great…now lets see, what the hell is the password for gettin in there?

I’ve got to go find my little lamb, but hey, thanks for reading.