Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Fixing the tractor.

Life rarely travels in a straight line. Humans are complex and quirky. The universe is complex and quirky. I often think, by human standards, God is complex and quirky. Thus, it is not surprising that his creatures and his creation are not entirely straightforward. If they were, life would be simpler, but no doubt boring.

So while I intended to press on with the vapor barrier and the drywall, which would lead to insulation and wiring and plumbing, I didn't do that. What happened in reality was that we got a little warm weather and the ground thawed out enough that I could push some dirt over to the entrance of the shop so that we could actually park vehicles out of the weather. I have patiently waited for this moment for two years.

The real problem revealed itself in the tractor. It started fine, but quit after about ten minutes. Not counting all the computerized nonsense on so-called modern cars, an engine really only needs 3 things to run. It needs sufficient compression, fuel and ignition. Compression is rarely the culprit unless the engine is totally worn out. Since it's a diesel, it can't really have ignition problems. That leaves fuel. Primitive engines are a joy to work on, mostly because diagnosis is so easy, and also because they don't have a bunch of parasitic useless electronic crap on them.

But I digress.

So, I check the fuel bowl and sure enough, it had junk at the bottom. Humph. I cleaned the sediment bowl, reprimed the system and it started right up. It ran beautifully for eight minutes, at which point it quit dead in its tracks. Visual inspection revealed more junk in the fuel bowl. Humph, again.

This happened, with minor variations, repeatedly. Eventually, I discovered that water got into my fuel tank and make copious quantities of rust and other nastiness and slime. Along the way, I had to fill, rinse and drain the fuel tank ten times. I also had to fix the primer pump, which had corroded from the water. I got really fast at cleaning/clearing the fuel bowl-fuel valve assembly. I could do it in three minutes flat. Then the tractor would run for six to ten minutes and clog up again. This was, to use the understatement of the decade, annoying.

I realized that I would never get all the junk out of the tank by just rinsing it out with fuel. That meant more serious work on the tractor.

Fortunately, by that time, I had moved enough dirt (eight minutes at a time, grrrrr) over to the shop entrance so that I could get the tractor in the shop. This is the first time I have been able to work on a vehicle while protected from the elements, in two years. Praise God for his rich blessings.

I ended up tearing the hood and dash off, unhooking all the electrical stuff from the dash and hood, taking the steering wheel off (which was rusted on solid), removing the fuel tank, pressure washing the tank, treating it with hot phosporic acid (that's naval jelly or rust remover to you non-chemistry types) and scrubbing the inside of the fuel tank with a scotchbrite pad tied to a curved stick. So that was pretty tedious, but effective. 98% of the rust and crud has been removed and the tank is all painted up shiny and nice. I will hopefully get the tractor back together tonight and get back on track.

Finest regards,


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