Sunday, November 07, 2004

A Farmer Is...

A farmer is many things, but often a mechanic. I got the parts for my tractor back. A rebuilt steering valve and one new fuel injector (of three that were cleaned and tested). My compact little tractor is compact in every way including how every aspect of this bulldog of a machine is crammed together. His name is "Tommy," so dubbed by his previous owners, to which I have appended, "Mow".

Early yesterday morning, in the still frigid hour before the mists had lifted and the sun was only a faint hope, I took my bucket of parts and set up a crude table under the roof of the open shed that Tommy Mow calls home. Everything was cold. Stuff that started out warm, like my tools, my hands and my feet, quickly numbed in the water logged air. As my fingers stiffened, getting the small nuts in place proved increasingly a challenge. Nothing is as cold as cold steel.

I managed to snuggle the 3 injectors into their holes, holding back the wiring harness like holding back some large artery during surgery. Once installed, the fuel hoses were clamped back in place.

Next it was on to the steering valve. The name belies its size and especially it's heft. Weighing in at some 20 pounds of delicate hydraulic valve, it is disguised as layers of steel arranged in plates like a Masterlock, yet not bigger than a large cinnamon roll. Protruding from one end is the steering column. And therein lies the challenge of extricating it or placing it back inside the dash. The instuctions call for removing the engine drive shaft to give it room to drop out, but I'd discovered that by removing a couple of dashboard wiring harnesses, and pushing the dash back, I could get it out without the complication of messing with the drive shaft.

I guess there is one other thing to relate. All Deere hydraulic equipment manuals have the picture of a finger being injected by a high-pressure break in the hydraulic line. Accompanying the image is a statement, "Escaping fluid under pressure can penetrate the skin causing serious injury. If an accident occurs, see a doctor immediately. Any fluid injected into the skin must be surgically removed within a few hours or gangrene may result. Doctors unfamiliar with this type of injury may call the Deere & Co. Medical Department in Moline, Illinois." No number is given.

Putting it back proved more challenging than removing it. I had to hold the entire, chilled weight with one arm, push the dash back with the other, and carefully thread the whole mess up through the dashboard. Once in, it sat precariously, suspended only by the threads of four bolts, while I got a nut threaded on. The front two nuts were no problem, but I could hardly get my fingers in to put the back ones on, finally getting the last one to thread by shear luck.

Once securely in place, hooking up the four hydraulic lines to its base was an equal challenge. When disassembling it, two of the compression fittings had turned the tubes they fit around into water slides and plunged down the lines and under the chassis somewhere. I'm a bit slow, so it wasn't until after this happened again that I got the bright idea to put a zip-tie around the line, below the nut so that it could only fall a short way.

I started by retrieving the two lost nuts and securing them with zip-ties. Then one by one I followed the sequence of placing a small o-ring in the downfacing side of the fitting. Then carefully so as not to dislodge the o-ring, I moved the hydraulic line over, and hand threaded the nut.

The quarters were close. In fact, I had purchased a whole set of wrenches to do this work. Truth be told, this is the main benefit of doing your own repairs, buying new tools. Among the new tools was a set of "stubbies." Special, short versions of wrenches for exactly this situation.

It is important to have the right wrenches. There is a lot of sharp, cold steel around. A wrench slipping under pressure could cause a nasty injury.

The four lines hooked up, I put enough screws back in to hold the battery tray and started it up to check for leaks. After a few turns of the motor it came to life. It sounded great, the new injector making a big difference. No leaks in the hydraulics. I raised the bucket without fluid spraying everywhere. I increase the rpm and repeated the motion. Still good. I buttoned up the rest, putting the muffler, air cleaner, and other parts back on and finally buttoning up the side panels.

I proudly rode my rejuvinated tractor down the road to the new house. Far from being a real farmer, but closer anyhow.

No comments:

Post a Comment