Today I took my uncle Cliff to the doctor for a check-up. I drove him in my farm rat maroon Toyota Camry. We drove the eighteen miles to La Grange listening to country music and talking about life, health, and cattle.
Cliff’s doctor is an US Air Force Lt. Colonel who just returned from Iraq. He had several pictures of aircraft in the office that I liked. He had the SR-71 Blackbird and the C-5a. He seems like a good doctor and the whole staff in the office was friendly and caring about all their patients.
The day before this visit Cliff told me that he was having trouble with his tractor, a classic 2 cylinder John Deere 530. He said that the battery was dead. I suggested that after the doctor visit that we pick up a replacement at the Wal*Mart in La Grange. This is exactly what we did and we returned to the ranch beneath partly cloudy skies and 70-degree temperatures.
I have never worked on a tractor; in fact I am pretty lame when it comes to working on gas-powered vehicles. I have always been inspired by the spunk and survival ways of farmers. When I look at my uncle Cliff I always see a man that did what ever it took to survive on a farm. He has survived on the farm with his wits and brawn and a lot of barbed wire holding things together. At almost 100 he can still touch his toes and do three push-ups. He drives his old Chevy truck 18 miles to Giddings to shop on Saturdays and can still remember how to start his tractor.
So today was my turn to learn what so many farmers already know, how to keep your tractor running. I installed the battery and then Cliff tried to start it. After several turns of the engine he recalled that on his last attempt at getting it running he ran out of gas. He instructed me to get the gas can out of his truck and as he held the huge funnel we filled the tank on top of the tractor. With gas in the tank Cliff was confident that it would start. After several attempts and a little tinkering with the gas lines the John Deer 530 started. When it fired up for the first time it popped the rusted tin can off that covered the exhaust pipe.
As the tractor idled I noticed that there was black oily stuff leaking from beneath the tractor. I crawled underneath to see what was going on. I tightened a bolt but the black goo kept coming out. Cliff opened up the flywheel cover to let me look inside. I of course could offer no solution to the oily leak. I told him that I would stop in and as the folks at the John Deere Shop in Giddings if they had any ideas about what was wrong.
I went to Giddings and before I went to the computer repair shop I stopped in the John Deere Shop. In the shop I meet Cliffâ€™s old friend Boots. I started explaining the problem to him and he immediately grabbed a manual of the 530. It had all the parts in exploded views on the pages. I could show him the parts of the tractor where the leak was. He told me that the 530 was a pretty durable tractor. The problem he said may be when the tractor ran out of gas that the carburetor pin that feeds the gas to the engine stayed open. This is a know problem in the 2 cylinder engines which are gravity fed with gas as the tank is on the top of the engine. He said that the gas just ran down into the gearbox and is so thin that it is leaking out of the seals. He said that I would have to drain it out and replace it with about six quarts of oil.
The tractor is not fixed yet, but I was really inspired to work with Cliff and meet Boots at the John Deere shop.