I’d borrowed a tractor with missing hitch assemblies. I couldn’t buy the missing parts. The best I could find was about $250 to have them shipped over the Internet.
Finally the solution dawned on me. I bought two short lengths of the stoutest chain, two chain hooks, and two clevices. I didn’t like the hooks but it was all I could find on a Sunday. I was in it for less than $30.
Incidentally one of the two “check chains” was unhooked (this because its mount point was broke off). I was more worried about lift than lateral stibility. Who needs a “check chain” anyway?
I hooked up the new chains in lieu of the missing lift arms, hitched up my plow, and gave it a shot. It lifted like a champ. Wow!
“I am,” I thought humbly, “a God!”
I drove to the field and chugged along about 100′. It dug two furrows. The freshly burned grass flipped over just as it should.
I turned. The tractor turned. The plow didn’t. The whole thing stretched to the left. The outside rear of the plow caught on the tire chain and while I jabbed at the clutch, launched a lynch pin into orbit.
So that’s what check chains do. It’s good to learn new things.
I slapped on another lynch pin. Since the tractor had one of two check chains I stopped going clockwise and started traversing the field counterclockwise. Problem solved.
After a few passes I took a picture of my handiwork. I texted it to Mrs. Curmudgeon.
“I CANT BELIEVE YOU HAVE A SMART PHONE AND USE IT TO SEND PICTURES OF DIRT”. Came the reply.
She needed context. “I AM A GOD!” I texted back.
“THAT’S NICE HONEY.” Came the response. She’s a keeper!
Plowing, even with the much stronger tractor, is an art. Want to know the secret? Here goes:
The shift lever is a steel rod with a copper cap soldiered on. No labels. When you click it into gear it might be 3rd or it might be reverse. The steel rod is inches from your junk and deadly solid. I got the best plowing by putting it into second gear which seems the most scary and I recognize as “nutsack” gear. If the gearshift is pointed at the carotid artery it’s in reverse. Don’t use high range if you want to live.
Depth control was a disaster, first too deep and then too shallow. Sometimes running one bottom so deep the other did nothing. Other times smooth sailing. Something needed to be done with the leveling.
First I had to get the tires into the furrow from the previous pass. This made the whole tractor tilt wildly to the right. If it tilted too much the plow bit too deep. Too little and the plow didn’t do a good job. I mentally thought of the proper tilt as “two beers”.
I lifted the plow out of the soil and shortened various chains one link at a time. (I’d initially installed them identical length. I found a sweet spot at 4 links on one side and 3 links at the other. It reminded me of an ironic tilt of eyebrows so I made a note to remember “ironic” setting.
The hydraulic lift probably expected a solid lift arm instead of some dunce with a chain. I adjusted often. Even so I got steady best average at “o” along the label which said “position”. I remembered this as “second o”.
Throttle position was best at about 80%. I don’t know why.
I told you it was an art.
After a while I took a break and let the tractor cool down. The next day I hit it again hard. I kept the chains on “ironic”, planted the tire in the furrow at “two beers”, with 80% throttle in “low nustack” and depth at “second o”. It was perfect.
This is why old farmers who answered my plowing questions sounded like flakes.
It’s hard work. You spend a lot of time looking behind you, twisting at the waist. If I was a chiropractor I would give my customers free old tractors.