Best laid plans

Posted in Farming on Thursday, June 06, 2013

Best laid plans

My carefully prioritized list lasted all of 2 whole days.  A couple of unexpected things got added, and some things took way longer than expected.  You all know the drill, pretty much like normal life.

But my little tractor problem this spring is a good illustration of how farm work can suddenly expand.  The day after I finished seeding barley, when the drill hitch broke in my last post, the hydraulics on that tractor quit working: no way to lift implements out of the ground, fold things up for transport, nothing.  Fortunately, everything else on that tractor is mechanical and it was drivable.  I used a second tractor for everything hydraulic to finish spring work, and used the broken one to do things like pull a 65’ harrow, which didn’t require hydraulics.  Overall, it may have cost me a day or so of growing season on the last field of peas.

After spring work, I parked it in the shop and removed the two-year-old hydraulic pump that should not have failed.  Time for expert advice, I took the pump to a hydraulic shop.  Most larger cities have one or more of these specialty businesses, usually sequestered in a nondescript building in the industrial part of town with a tiny, nondescript sign.  They are the type of place where you can say things like ‘Parker-Hanefin, feller-buncher, track hoe, Plessy’, and ‘bee gee’ and never get that blank, what-the-hell-is-he-talking-about, look. A lot of small town machine shops provide some similar services, but since I had no idea what had caused the failure, I wanted some expertise. They would fix it, I put it back on, and I’m back in business, relatively simple and quick...NOT.

Long story shortened--the expert said there may have been a problem with the vent on the oil reservoir, for which I bought $50 worth of parts to modify and hopefully fix. Fixing required removing the hood off the engine compartment, which revealed a hole in the exhaust system.  A call to the nearest parts store, an hour away in the big city, revealed that the parts were in stock. Rather than pay the freight, and since I didn’t need that tractor immediately, I decided to wait a week for parts until I was planning a trip to the big city anyway. Parts on order, I started to work removing the exhaust system.  Six hours and two more calls to the parts store later, I added still more parts which had nothing to do with hydraulics to my order. The worn and broken pieces were in the scrap iron pile and the salvageable ones were ready for reassembly.

Meanwhile, out it the field, things were still growing.