“Have you ever tried to do anything?” I ask hypothetically over a theoretical beer.
Well I have. And I’m convinced that God, Fate, the Furies, and possibly Ralph Nader have secret meetings where they alter the cosmos just to keep my schedule cluttered.
Interruptions went from occasional to constant. War, famine, and pestilence were just a few of them. All of my time was occupied with absolutely everything; leaving silly things like fixing old tractors… and sleep… deferred. I suppose this is why antique tractors seem to exist mostly in the orbit of retired men with plenty of spare time. The tractor spent much of the last two years under a tarp…probably weeping.
The actual tear down wasn’t too bad. Working a half hour every couple days when the moon and stars aligned and nothing else was happening (i.e. never) I managed to break apart the tractor and strip the block. Through a series of unexpected events, I happened to travel past a far removed machinist who supposedly specialized in old tractors. Soon the block and crankshaft were machined and shiny. Cool!
Surprisingly you can buy every single bit of a 65 year old tractor. (Try that with a nine year old Kia!) I had a catalog but chose to work with a shop to help me order the “engine overhaul kit”. It was an ominously large pile of boxes with a dishearteningly long list of contents. I paid 10% over “Internet prices” to know that I got the right size components. Plus they had a nice dog and they let me pet it.
Then time stopped. Six months later I got back at it. I pondered the piston rings and wondered how to disassemble the air filter. (It appears to be a depression era version of a Rubik’s Cube).
I also discovered I needed a widget tool to compress the valve springs. And no you can’t buy one at the local Napa.
A month later I’d smuggled a valve spring compressor out of a Bolivian drug lord’s compound. You have no idea how handy that tool was! (Don’t ask! I don’t have the tool any more and even if I did it wouldn’t be for sale. I think farmers in the post war era were buried with their trusty valve compressor tools.)
With the magic tool, the valve train went together pretty nicely. Except I had no idea how to use a tappet wrench. Frankly “tappet” is a pussy name so I decided to forget it. I’d deal with it later.
Then it took six weeks to get around to buying a cheap torque wrench. I wish I’d bought the cooler one with a dial. Mine works but it’s totally uncool. All the big kids pick on me!
About that time I re-installed the clutch. Actually I tried to re-install it and failed. The clutch needs to be aligned when you tighten the bolts. Which only works if you’re a magician with six hands and three assistants. Hmmm… I was stuck.
A couple weeks later (after several beers worth of internet surfing) I discovered that $8 would buy a thing called a “clutch alignment tool”. Ye cats! It arrived a week later and the clutch took ten minutes to bolt on.
Then I put the thing under a tarp and forgot for a good long time.
Later I tried to adjust the rear main seal and somehow dislodged the Sherman step-up auxiliary transmission. A solid block of metallic stuff turned into a mixed up pile of important looking cogs and gears. I shit myself. Then, drank a beer and stared at an oak tree for two hours. Eventually I crammed everything back in the housing. A miracle!
After another very long delay (during which time the entire project wound up buried under building debris from a bathroom renovation), I began again. Things went swimmingly and eventually the whole thing was more or less bolted together. I even crudely painted some of the chunkier parts. It looked like I might soon have it running. Yay!
Except something was terribly wrong. There was too much resistance turning the engine. It was stuck and I was fucked.
Lacking inspiration I turned to the approach both parties have been using to govern; denial.