Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tractor travails

It all started pretty simply.  I was on my tractor last saturday.  I love my tractor, and it does a lot of stuff for me.  I end up spending an hour or so a day on the tractor.  But I digress. 

So I'm working on Saturday, and the fuel is a little low.  Normally I'd just load the big tank into the back of my truck and take it over and fill it up with off-road diesel.  It's dyed diesel, and about 30% cheaper than road diesel most of the time.  But the fuel place that I buy from is closed on Saturday.  what to do. 

I can get road diesel, but I hate paying the extra 30%.  Darn it, gotta go.  So I found a plastic diesel container that I have, and went off to buy 5 gallons of road diesel.  I'll put a little in the tank to tide me over the weekend, until I can get a full tank of offroad.  Problem solved, I spent the rest of the day doing tractor stuff. 

When I fill my tractor from a 5 gallon can, I can never get all of the diesel out of the container.  There's always a half-pint or so left.  So I didn't think much of it when I had a little sloshing around in the can when I left to buy the road diesel.  But diesel, in a can, left a long time, is EVIL.  PURE EVIL. 

My tractor was running just fine, and then started having problems when I was going up or down an incline.  Fading out, no power.  I thought at first I had run out of fuel, but the gauge showed half-full.  Eventually it just stalled out. 

I could not figure it out, so I started with the simple stuff -- is the air filter clogged?  No, almost new.  Is the battery low or dead?  Nope, checked fine.   Air and fire, check.  Now for fuel. 

Is the fuel filter full?  Yes.  But when I pulled it off I looked into the center hole and noticed something odd.  It looked like jello.  I poured it out, and it was sa gelatinous blob of something.  Algae maybe.  Evil.  Ok, off to the store for a new fuel filter. 

I get the new fuel filter in, and use the hand-operated lift pump to fill it.  But I crank it 50 times, and I'm not filling the filter.  I pull the filter off, and crank it. very little flow.  I should be getting a good squirt of diesel every time.  Weird.  Ok, back another step

tracing the fuel line back, I find this check valve between the pump and the tank.  I pull it off, and lower it below the level of the fuel in the tank.  no flow.  That's weird.  Ok, so I take a good suck off the tube to see if (blaaaaragggH!  big mouth of diesel.  Vomiting my lunch.  Yum, terryaki) ok, i can get a little out, but I can't get much flow.  So I blow into the tube this time, hear the bubbles in the tank.  But whatever was blocking the tube is still in the tank.   and the check valve itself is broken.  Off to the store for a new check valve and a can of starter fluid. 

So to save myself a few bucks, I've now spent 5 hours messing with my tractor, and none of the stuff I was going to do is getting done.  I ended up having to drain every bit of fuel from the tractor and then bleed/fill all of the tubes and pumps and valves. 


MMP said...

One time (not when I was at band camp..) before I had a tractor, I rented one. In order to send it back, I got a can full of diesel. Latter that summer, I couldn't get my little two cycle tiller going. I messed with it for a while and finally took it to a small engine guy. He said he finally emptied the fuel tank and with fresh fuel it ran fine. Funny thing was, the fuel in the tank smelled like DIESEL!

Photobby said...

I've never been to band camp. But I have had a tractor on our place. It was running when it showed up. And did a great job that day. It didn't run again (and I tried, oh how I tried) until the owner came to pick it back up. 20min and he had it running. Now I use goats for my mowing. And I spend hours fixing fences.