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Broken Tractor
20 July 2008


Oil I hate my tractor.  It's difficult to use and it breaks a lot.  Several months ago my cheap Chinese tractor spun a bearing.  I almost sold it then but decided to fix it instead.  I had to take the entire tractor apart and only recently got it running again.  Once I finally got the thing running again, it ran great.  The tractor still had all sorts of other problems but at least the engine was running good.  Then it broke again.

This time it was a leaky oil gasket.  The oil filter hangs off the side of the engine which makes it easy to change the filter but also leaves the filter unprotected.  Leaving the oil filter exposed on a farm tractor doesn't seem like a good idea to me.  When I noticed the oil leak I also noticed a dent in the new oil filter.  A rogue branch or rock or something must have hit the filter, breaking the seal loose on the mounting bracket.

I tried some Form-A-Gasket but that didn't work.  Texas is the closest place with parts for my tractor and it took two weeks to get new seals.  I replaced the seals then went to start the tractor and discovered that the brand new battery was completely dead.

Switch It's really easy to bump the switches when climbing on and off the tractor.  Apparently a switch was left on which drained the battery even though the key was off.  This isn't the first time I've had to jump start the tractor and I just recently purchased an expensive new battery.  Hopefully the new battery will survive the complete discharge.

Once I got the tractor started there were no more leaks and everything worked great for about two hours.  Then it broke again.  I was trying to load a pile of brush when the tractor's bucket stopped moving.  The control lever had fallen apart.  I drove the tractor back to the barn and, while leaving the tractor running so the battery would charge, pounded the control lever back into shape then reinstalled it on the tractor.  This time the tractor lasted about an hour before it broke again.

The tractor was just sitting there idling on level ground when it started making a horrible intermittent grinding noise.  I'm pretty sure it's the transmission.  I had also noticed that the tractor seemed to have no power even though the engine was running fine.  A bad transmission might explain both problems. Unfortunately I don't think I can get at the transmission without tearing the tractor all the way apart again.  I really don't want to do that which is why I'm sitting here complaining about it instead.

Maybe instead of a farm intern I should be advertising for a tractor mechanic to come live on the farm.  My tractor pretty much needs a full-time mechanic.  I'd love to buy a new tractor but they're too expensive.  The tractor I want is about $55,000 for a new one with a bucket, mower deck, chipper and fertilizer spreader.  I've considered trying to farm without a tractor but that's just not realistic.

I like to stop by the John Deere dealership to look at their shiny new tractors.  I like to sit on them and pretend they're mine.  I also like crawling underneath and feeling how sturdy the suspension and frames are.  Even better is opening the hoods and looking at the nice clean engines.  I actually caught myself checking the oil once.  It was still clean and honey colored.  There wasn't even a hint of burnt smell or metal shavings like my tractor has.

I've never actually started up one of the new tractors.  Maybe next time I'm there I'll ask the salesman if I can take one of their fancy new tractors for a test drive around their lot.  I want to drive one of their Gator's too.  I like the XUV model with the four wheel drive.  While I'm at it, one of the excavators would be nice.  They have some really nice backhoes too.

<sigh>  Enough day dreaming, I have to go fix my crappy tractor.


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