MIKE GILCHRIST IN THE TOLEDO CHRONICLE
Man do I love technology! I’ve often said I was born a hundred years (or more) too late. Maybe if I didn’t have all this technology around me, I wouldn’t miss it, but as it is, I enjoy the benefits.
I told you last week about acquiring an old Ford tractor. If it weren’t for the Internet, because of my limited travel range these days, I wouldn’t even know there is a very large “community” of old tractor owners out there. This community is full of helpful ideas on using, maintaining, and restoring old tractors, and in my case, old Ford 8N tractors.
I studied some of the web sites dedicated to tractors of my type before I performed what I consider to be mandatory maintenance. As I do with any vehicle new to me (besides running it out of gas) is change all the fluids and apply grease wherever needed.
I find it amazing this tractor uses old Ford Model A parts, and if purchased for that vehicle are cheaper than if purchased for the 8N. I also learned the transmission, hydraulic system and rear end of the beast all share a common fluid reservoir. I found on the Internet that if you replace it with the entire 5 gallons, some will leak by the seals and into the brakes. Sage advice found through technology taught me to only put 4 1/2 gallons back, and save the other 2 quarts as a maintenance supply.
The lane is beginning to deteriorate again. All of the recent rain is beginning to bring back memories of the rather late winter we suffered through. The fellow who runs the road grader for the County on our road has been working hard the past week bringing it back up to par. I just got back from town, and can tell you it may have been for naught; the road is very muddy again. I did manage to get the five acres I mow finished before it started to rain. The chore included running well past dark with the old tractor “seeing” in the dark with newfangled sealed beam headlights.
I am finishing this column on Friday, and on deadline once again. I am glad the Farmers Market is opening again today. It has always been one of my favorite summer activities. I like the locally produced fruits and vegetables, and helps remove the guilt I don’t have a 1/2 acre garden myself; why bother, I rationalize?
We have been cutting asparagus every day, and eating it for almost every supper. I don’t remember for sure if I liked it when I was a kid, but our two teenagers don’t. I think it is one of those things you grow to appreciate as an adult.
This weekend I am planning on taking the kids up to Paul’s pond to catch some crappie. We’ll take a trip on the trails into the woods and hopefully find a good supply of morrels. Sunday, it is my plan to have one of my favorite spring-time meals; fresh caught crappie, fresh picked and sauteed morrels, and fresh cut and steamed asparagus. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Speaking of Paul, I can’t wait for him to finish a contraption he’s building in his welding shop for me. It is a collection of steel parts which attach to the three-point hitch on the tractor, and let me plug any 2 in. hitch and ball or other attachment I might use on the hitch on my Jeep. I plan on plugging that Driveway Groomer I told you about a couple weeks ago into it. I believe I will have better control over the device using the hydraulics on the tractor than I did pulling it with the Jeep. I will be able to lift it and place it back down exactly where I need it, instead of pulling it with full time contact on the lane.
As my sister predicted, and some of you probably did too, I managed to get the tractor stuck in the woods. I was foolish enough to believe I could make it down one bank of a small stream on the property and back the other side. Ray told me I could have flipped the thing over and gotten hurt.
Now you have to understand Ray is a John Deere snob. He relishes every chance to say something about the old Ford. He doesn’t come right out and belittle my tractor, but he does peeper the conversation with anecdotes about how he had to come and help friends with old Ford tractors pull hay wagons up hills and such. There have been several of these anecdotes alluding to the inferiority of the 8N compared to even the lowliest John Deere. His bias won’t affect our friendship, Ray and I have become fast friends. And to be sure, Ray will have to come to my rescue with some of that large American iron again, as he has in the past.
My friend Matt was over the past weekend helping put a window “back” into the house the previous owner, for some odd reason had covered over. I told him about the stuck tractor I left in the stream. He told me they had a portable wench back at the shop.
On the way back from Marshalltown to pick up some materials, we stopped at his dad’s place to get the wench. His dad, Jim, also had an old Ramsey winch with a mounting plate collecting dust on one of his shelves. I talked him into “trading” for it.
The next morning I busied myself mounting the wench to the front of my Jeep. By noon I had it mounted and used it to pull the tractor out of the mud.
So now I have a few different ways to get myself out of the fine messes I seem to get myself in to. I’m sure Ray will appreciate that.
Readers, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org via email, or write to me, (or send chocolate) at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342
Until next time—