Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How the cat learned to swim

I'm not a mechanic by trade, or training, or even inclination.  I'm a mechanic in self defense. 

The fanbelt broke on the old orange tractor.  I'm pretty fond of that tractor, actually, and I've been reluctant to sell it.  Having a 2nd large tractor makes it a nice backup for the main tractor, and for times when you need to get unstuck, it's invaluable.  It also means that I could hay without renting or borrowing equipment;  use one tractor to run the bailer, use the second to pick up the bales and stack. 

Yesterday I spent an hour looking at the fanbelt and at the tractor, and trying to figure out the easiest way to replace it.  The tractor is all-metric.  My tools are mostly-american.  So to do the work properly, I purchased a set of wrenches and sockets, figuring that it was about time that I had metric tools. 

So I removed the battery, and then the plate that the battery is mounted on, and then the AC radiator, and then the Hydraulic radiator, and then the main radiator, and the air filter and the housing that it is mounted on, and the top hood of the tractor, and two of the braces, one on each side of the tractor. 

And then I disconnected the driveline from the hydraulic pump in this tractor, and slipped the $6 fanbelt over the radiator fan, and around the pulleys, and then used the alternator adjustment to tension it. 

And then I put the main radiator back on, and then the hydraulic radiator, and then the AC radiator, and then the air filter and housing, and then the hood, and ... found I had lost a nut somewhere.  Off to the store to buy a 10mm nut, and then I could finish the job properly. 

When I work on equipment I do all the work that needs to be done in the area.  So while I was doing this I greased the front end of the tractor, dried, scraped and painted the metal plate that the battery was on (it was rusting from battery acid, this will make it last longer), fixed the windshield wiper pump and inspected the front axle seals and assembly for any signs of damage.  Everything is ok. 

It's a little like meditation, or some sort of zen ritual.  You lay out the wrenches and the parts come off, and you make little piles of nuts and bolts and parts, in a specific order so that you can replace them as a unit and don't get them mixed up. 

I'm getting better at it, slowly.  Tackling increasingly harder jobs.  It's part of farming for me, because I'm increasingly reluctant to pay the shop to do stuff that, honestly, is really pretty easy to do, although time consuming, like this job.  The shop quoted me $300. 

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