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Goodbye Tractor
24 December 2012

Tractor

I have complained about my cheap Chinese tractor many times before.  It is a horrible tractor that breaks a lot.  It's almost as if it was designed to breakI really hate that tractor.

My tractor spent more time broken than working.  Even when it was working, it was dangerous and difficult to use.  I would often prefer to spend 20 minutes shovel a huge pile by hand rather than bother with the stupid tractor.

A few years ago, after having to tear the entire engine completely apart for the second time, I decided to simply stop using the tractor.   I knew that the only way to keep the tractor in working condition was to not use it.  So I got it working again then just let it set.

Shiny I wanted to sell the tractor but was afraid to because, you know, real farms have tractors.  After a year of not using the tractor, I discovered that between the mower, pickup truck and muscle power, I can manage quite nicely without the stupid tractor.  Real farm or not, I decided it was time to sell my stupid tractor.  Unfortunately I had complained about it a little too much and I couldn't find any suckers on the island willing to buy it.  Oops.

A few people acted interested but once they saw the tractor in action they ran away scared.  I totally understand.  I wouldn't buy that piece of crap.  Even though I had it cleaned up and looking nice and shiny, that didn't make it any less of a piece of crap.

Not being able to sell it and not wanting to use it myself, the tractor just sat there.  Then, after last year's pruning season, I needed it.  All of the pruned coffee branches had been fed through a large chipper so there were giant piles of mulch at various locations all around the farm.  The tractor, with it's scoop, was the best way to move these mulch piles out of the way.

I was very pessimistic at first but the tractor worked surprisingly well.  I thought for sure it would break but it kept on going, almost like a real tractor.  After a couple days of solid work I had all the mulch piles moves to where I wanted them.  Some of the piles were even taller than the tractor.  Maybe I had been wrong to give up on the tractor.  If it worked this well, maybe I could use it after all.

Of course I had to brag to Valerie about the giant piles of mulch I had created.  She acted impressed but I could tell she was just humoring me.  She mentioned that a few scoops of mulch in her garden would be nice.  Feeling confident, I said "No problem!" then hopped on the tractor and scooped up some mulch.

As I was dumping the first scoop of mulch into her garden, Valerie pointed and said something but I couldn't hear her over the noisy tractor.  I looked down at the engine but didn't see any smoke or obvious leaks.  Everything sounded fine too.  Still, Valerie kept pointing and was yelling something about a leak.  For this tractor, a few leaks are normal so I ignored her and kept on going.  She kept pointing though until I eventually climbed off the tractor to take a look.

Sure enough, oil was pouring out of the engine.  Not a little leak but a giant, pouring leak like someone was dumping out a bucket of oil.   I jumped back on the tractor and tried to drive it back to the barn before it died but it was too late, the tractor had bled to death and wasn't moving anywhere.

Broken Upon further inspection, I could see that oil leak wasn't a broken hose or fitting, it was the main seal where the engine is bolted together.   Fixing it would require taking the tractor completely apart.   Again.  I was not happy.

Using the mower and a heavy chain we managed to tow the tractor back its final resting place.  I definitely wouldn't be able to sell it now.  So it just sat there for many months while I tried my hardest to forget that it existed.

Then I had an idea.  I was having lunch with a farmer friend that is also an expert diesel mechanic.  He was very familiar with my tractor and had repeatedly tried to convince me that it wasn't as bad as I made it out to be.  So I offered to give it to him.

He didn't think it was fair to take it for free so I told him I'd sell it to him for a dollar.  It took some convincing until he finally agreed.  I've never collected on the dollar.

It didn't take long before my friend had the tractor running again.   He told me the long list of things that he had fixed, many of which I already knew about and some that I didn't.  Wanting to show it off, he climbed on the tractor and went to start it up.  Nothing, not even a clicking noise.  I just smiled.

I had replaced the battery the last time I overhauled the tractor so it was probably just a bad connection somewhere, an easy fix.  I knew he'd get it working again.  I also knew that I was glad that it wasn't my problem.

A few days later I was visiting my friend again and this time the tractor was working.  One of his workers was using it to move a giant pile of discarded coffee pulp.  Moving that stinky, sloppy pile of goop by hand would have been a monumental task.  The tractor was perfect for the job and performed nicely.  The tractor was working so well that I decided to take a few pictures.

Giving the tractor away turned out to be a much better solution than selling it to some poor, unsuspecting buyer.  Few people could handle that tractor but it is perfect for my friend's needs.  He is a talented enough mechanic that he can keep it running and the tractor is cheap enough that it's no big deal if his workers are occasionally a little too rough with it.  Best of all, I saved my friend several thousand dollars.  I have already received some free labor in return and that is much more valuable to me than the money.  I'm happy, he's happy, even the tractor seems happy at its new home.

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