Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I fixed it! (I think.)
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
For anyone as rock-knuckled and splay-fingered as I am, engine repairs are simply best left alone. Ever since causing the death of a perfectly good 1970 VW solely through an act of preventative maintenance, I’ve put my motorized vehicles in the hands of people I pay to know better.
That is, at least, until now.
Two years ago, my wife and I inherited 145 acres of Western Virginia hillside, and with them, a vintage-1960 Massey-Furguson MF-35 farm tractor.
With 30 or 40 acres of pasture-land, a tractor is a must. Miss bush-hogging one year, and your fields look messy. Miss it for two…and you've got pasture-land no more.
You’ve probably seen an MF-35 if you’ve ever driven farm country. Massey built about a zillion of them – and they build them to last – out of cast iron and thick sheet metal. There are plenty of them still around, since nothing short of a thermonuclear explosion can do them irreparable damage.
“Irreparable” is the key word, since – every 30 years or so – a part will wear out and require replacement. Require replacement, that is, by me, since the nearest tractor mechanic is two towns away…and doesn’t make house calls.
Where is a tractor dilettante to go in his distress? Online, of course!
You’ll not, I’m sure, be surprised to discover that there is a thriving – nay, flourishing – online community of MF-35 owners, collectors, restorers and amateur mechanics, a majority of which remains poised at their keyboards, ready to provide detailed advice to the likes of me, 24 hours a day.
There are downloadable manuals – 300 pages long – translated into Japanese, if one might wish. There are points and plugs…wheels and widgets in stock and shippable within a matter of days. At 40-plus years, this must constitute one of the longest running aftermarkets in the history of…well, aftermarkets.
This, to say the very least, was a surprise. But true delight still awaited.
For the first time in my appallingly effete life, I fixed a broken engine. Not once…not twice…but three times. The clutch and carburetor last year. And just last weekend, the radiator. And I threw in a new thermostat, as long as I had the thing apart. (What bliss those words!)
But for this I can’t take the credit.
For Fergie, dear Fergie, did not once confound my fumbling advances. She guided my awkward fingers to every wayward bolt and secret cotter pin with a frankness befitting a Venus in sheet metal . When the job was done, she purred as I imagined she had never purred for her previous owners.
“No words but things,” old Willie Carlos Williams said. With a waft of diesel about me, now I know what he means.