Saturday, January 6, 2018
This morning I drove to the tractor store in wicked winds and subzero weather, bought two different filters and a white and a red bottle of additives. The red one is called “911” and is used in dire cases of engine trouble. The white additive is for the smart folks who know to pour the stuff into the canister before filling it with diesel whenever the temperature is below 30 degrees. Tom, the owner, walked me outside and around front to show me where one of the fuel filters is and how to remove it. He was outside with no hat, no gloves. I was covered in outdoor gear and was still freezing. The thing is, there are all different kinds of tractors and the models change regularly. So, what he was showing me didn’t quite line up with what I had seen on my tractor, but I was too cold to do the 21 questions. Instead I headed home with his instructions and a vague idea of what I should be looking for on the tractor. When I had first arrived I asked, “Where is the Tractor Care for Dummies book?” There isn’t one. There should be.
Although it is Saturday, Todd isn’t home because he is at a curling event up just over the border in Canada. With the wind still howling, the temperatures below zero, and painful memories of the day before, I decided the dead tractor could remain dead until Sunday.
Sunday, January 7, 2018
In fact, it would remain dead until Monday because despite all the gadgets Home Depot sells to unscrew fat things, Todd was unable to get the housing unit for the fuel filter off. I left an SOS voice message on the tractor store’s voice mail.
Monday, January 8, 2018
At 10am Monday in something of a heat wave – 20 degrees – Bob, the repair person from the tractor store, arrived. In a calm, this-too-shall-be-solved manner, Bob unscrewed and removed the tractor’s green side panel, slid his oil catcher under the tractor and began to try to unscrew the fuel filter’s housing unit. “Frozen, but good.”
The first hair dryer wasn’t hot enough. The second one did the trick, but Bob made clear the unit had been screwed on way too tight in the first place (at the factory!). And then he pointed out how water had worked its way into the fuel filter gasket and frozen up the whole thing. As he worked, I learned that Bob was raised on a farm surrounded by equipment and that he’s been repairing tractors “longer than I should.” He went about replacing the fuel filter, a second filter that totally confused me, adding 911 to the warm four gallons of diesel, and turning the key so that something ticked. And ticked for about four minutes. Bob turned the key further and the engine kicked on. And then died. “This is not a problem,” he said. The ticking resumed and the second try did the trick. The tractor roared and Bob pulled the throttle back. “Keep her running for at least an hour,” he instructed. I asked if I could use the tractor. “Even better. Use that bucket and driving around will get that lubricator to all the right parts.” I thanked him and insisted he take some bucks from me. Bob headed down the driveway with four more calls on his work sheet.
I only feel slightly wiser about caring for The Green Beast, but this I know for sure. Tom may own the store, but the next time the tractor has new lessons for me to learn, I’ll be calling for Bob and hoping he is still in the business of making house calls.