Chaos & quietude
Blending Serenity and Mayhem since 2019
The other day the snow was really coming down with lots more in the forecast. We were expecting company the next day and I just had to get our long driveway clear. So of course, after a cough and a whiff of smoke, my 651 Workmaster tractor I use for snow plowing simply refused to start. I tried and tried with no luck. I messed with different choke settings, I glanced quickly in the gas tank and saw some fuel (there’s no gauge), I even let the tractor rest for a while in case of flooding then came back to another attempt. Eventually, I wore the battery out with no joy. Great. Though plenty old, this had never happened with this tractor before. After spending the requisite 20 minutes to find the lost charger and getting it hooked up, I decided that I’d better put the chains on my other tractor, a ’52 8N, in case I had to use that old girl for the plowing. This was problematic since I didn’t have a set of chains ready that would fit the 12.4x28 tires. What I did have was some secondhand semi-trailer chains rusting away in a bucket that I’d picked up to make a set out of, someday. Putting chains on my tractors is not a chore I enjoy, particularly when they have to be fabricated first, but I guess today was someday. With the snow coming down in ever larger flakes, I spent the next couple of hours fighting with the rusty fetters; measuring, grinding, cutting, cursing, tugging, grunting, and trying to find bits of hardware and wire sufficient to Jerry-rig the chains in place. Worn out, cold, wet, and much dirtier, I returned to the Workmaster reasoning that enough time had past to try her again. Crossing my fingers still didn’t help, so I finally went into a more indepth troubleshooting mode. I cleaned the air intake and was glad not to find a mouse’s nest (as I have on other occasions) blocking the inlet. I pulled a spark plug and examined it. The plug was not soaked and appeared normal, so at least it wasn’t getting flooded. I checked for spark and that too was norm. Ok, the tractor should be getting air and it sparks. I can assume the compression didn’t suddenly go bad, and if it did I couldn’t do anything about it anyway, so that leaves fuel as the remaining villain to subdue. I tried a squirt of staring fluid and got just the fainted hint of a puff. Thinking that just maybe I was on the right track, I then stared hard at the ancient carburetor trying to will it into revealing the esoteric mysteries contained within. I considered pulling it off for a cleaning, but thankfully got scared and retreated to engage smaller dragons first. The fuel bowl looked clean, or at least cleanish. Maybe there was something blocking the line? I traced the gas line, played a bit with the broken shutoff valve, and sighing slightly, peaked into the tank again, this time with a flashlight to look pensively at the petcock. That’s when I finally discovered the problem: It turns out that tractors still need gasoline to run. Apparently, when I check earlier I had seen just a small pool in the otherwise completely dry tank. I topped the thing off today.