Monday, March 30, 2009

Tale of a tractor

3/30/09 Monday
OK…I know y’all want to hear about the tractor. It was more of an adventure than our usual forays are. Of course we don’t “foray” much so it doesn’t take much to be more of an adventure. To cut to the chase “I own a 1959 MF 204 made by Massey Ferguson’s Industrial division”. Getting it wasn’t easy so here’s the tale.

I go pick up the trailer that the old man is letting me use to get the tractor should I choose to buy it. Cherie’s truck came with a trailer hitch installed so I presumed it was wired for a trailer. Nope. Not going to happen. So I can take my truck with all it’s discomforts or wire the trailer lights plug in Cherie’s and we can go with increased comfort and the benefit of a V-8 motor to pull this thing. So I ran to Walmart and bought a plug kit. Believe it or not I remembered wiring my truck for trailer lights as well as the electric brakes I installed as we prepared to leave Toledo so that helped make things move quickly. As soon as I got it hooked up Cherie came out and helped me make sure everything worked. It was fine so we hit the road.

We thought it would be a two or two and a half hour drive but it ended up being something closer to four. But we took the scenic route and stopped to eat so that ate up some time. When we got to the town, who’s name I don’t remember, Cherie called up Tonya. Actually she dialed Tommy’s number by mistake and carried on a conversation with him for quite a while before she figured out it wasn’t Tonya she was talking to. It was funny, had to have been there. So we get ahold of Tonya and she comes to lead us to her place. Good thing she did cause I would have got lost for sure.

Her house was one she bought or was given and had to move it to her new location. I guess it had been a rock house when she got it so she had to break all the rock off. It’s a big house and they cut it in half to move it.

Alright, don’t get off track bob. The tractor was sitting out front so we got out to look at it. My memory plays tricks sometimes, I remember something but don’t attach it to the right spot. I thought it was an Allis Chalmer machine but it was a Massey Fergusson. Then I thought she told me she’d inherited it but that wasn’t the case. As I had searched for a tractor I’m sure I talked to someone who had an Allis Chalmer tractor and someone who inherited one, I just attached those memories to my conversation with Tonya.

It was a beat up looking machine for sure. Tonya wasn’t sure what the year was but she thought the tractor was made in the 70’s. We started it up and I fumbled around till I figured out how to make it move after the older guy with Tonya showed me. It moved. I looked, poked, and prodded like I knew what I was doing and asked Tonya if she’d take $3800 for it. She stuck to her guns at the $4,000 we had talked about on the phone so we settled at $3900. Getting the tractor loaded on the trailer took some teamwork as it pushed the whole truck and trailer when I tried to drive up on it.

Getting it up I see that one of the tires is almost flat so Tonya fired up her air compressor up and we filled the tire. We wrapped chains around whatever we could find to tie the tractor down and I winched it tight (kind of) with the four ton come along. Cherie and Tonya took care of the money, bill of sale stuff while we loaded the tractor.

With all said and done and visiting over we hit the road. After going through the weaving up and down roads on the way up we decided to take a route that would get us to the interstate sooner. On the way there was a long downhill stretch and my speed got up to seventy. Taking my foot off the gas to slow down meant that the now heavy trailer would want to keep going, pushing the truck out of it’s way. The truck and the trailer started wobbling back and forth with an ever increasing rhythm. Pushing on the brakes just made it worse as the trailer continued it’s quest to get past the truck so I just rode it out. Scared the bejeses out of us. I told Cherie that we wouldn’t get on the interstate because it wasn’t safe to drive the speed limit. Things seemed to be fine as we drove along so we decided to take the interstate but keep it at sixty miles per hour or so.

We’d take the camera to take pictures of this whole momentous occasion but forgot to take any, so when we got to the interstate we stopped and took this one. After grabbing some coffee we hit the road, pulling onto I-20 for the first time with the tractor on board.

Maybe five minutes later it happened again. As before I was heading downhill and looking down I saw I was just hitting seventy miles an hour so took my foot off the gas. “Damn, it’s doing it again” I said as Cherie started getting scared. Now it’s not easing up at all and getting downright violent as the rear of the truck skidded back and forth with the tires squealing. Now things just flung out of control. I heard a bang, we were tossed off the interstate, swear we went airborn, all we could see was the ground through the windshield, I saw a sign pole go by, things eased up as the trailer was now dragging behind instead of pushing past. By this time we have gone over the median and are rolling to a stop on the service road. I could have sworn the tractor was flung off as the trailer violently fishtailed back and forth, and it sure felt like we had lost some weight when we flew off the highway, but by golly, it was still there behind us, still on the trailer.

Poor Cherie was a wreck. She was sure we were going to roll over had been praying franticly as she held on for dear life during the hour it seemed to last. I was fine from that regard. I’ve been through so much stuff that this wasn’t a big deal on an emotional level. I got out to survey the damage. All three tires on the drivers side of the trailer were shredded. The other side was fine as far as I could tell. First off we didn’t have a flashlight so I used my cell phone to try and shine some light on things.

So what we do now? Dial 911? Ok. So I get out my cell and dial 911. I’m from Stanton so my cell phone automatically dials their 911 operator. Now how’s that going to help me. If I was in Ohio and dialed 911 I suppose I’d still get Stanton. “BUT WAIT!!! THERE’S MORE” While trying to explain the situation I hear the operator saying “Hello? Sir I can’t hear you” and the connection was gone. Looking at the phone I see NO bars. “Cherie, you got any bars on your phone?” I asked. “No” was her reply. NUTS.

So I put the truck in low gear and start dragging the trailer down the road with the tires squealing. We made it about a half mile when Cherie said “I’ve got bars!”. Good. I pulled up another two hundred feet so we could see what mile marker we were at as Cherie called Janie. By the way, it’s about 10:30 at night when this is happening. Here we are, stuck out in the middle of somewhere with no means of getting ahold of anyone locally. There’s no phone book to look through. So who do you call? Someone with internet savvy and access for one. So we called Steve and Janie. I’m sure they were right in the middle of something when we did but they dropped everything to help. Janie’s online as Steve calls numbers she looks up and relays questions and answers between me and the tire rescue guys.

It was about midnight, give or take an hour, when someone was found who could or at least was willing to come out. By this time I wasn’t keeping time. We had turned the truck off to not have to breath fumes but of course left the hazard lights blinking. I went to start the truck because it was getting cold and it wouldn’t start. Not enough juice left in the battery. I think the word I used was “NUTS” but can’t say for sure. I know I had something to say. So as we waited for another hour or two we watched the hazard lights get dimmer and dimmer, slowly fading away. What’s interesting is that the dimmer they got the faster they would blink.

This is Saturday night, That’s party time folks, at least it is for the drunks (Look, I can talk about drunks because I was one at one time) and here we are on a dark unlit road on a dark night with lights that were growing darker by the minute. Just as they quit the tire guys show. Good timing.

They had a hard time getting the trailer jacked up because most of their jacks wouldn’t go low enough to fit under it. Steve had suggested we get four tires and spread them on both sides to be sure but I’m not too keen on spending any more money than I have to. You can bet that prices on tires after midnight, delivered and put on while you sit alongside the highway, aren’t going to be cheap. Plus we had to get a new rim too. I was going to have them put one of the new ones on the other side but after seeing them struggle to do the tires one the side of the trailer that rested on pavement I decided not to. The other side was on the sloping grass and would have been a bear. Besides it’s late and I’m tired.

Actually I had every intention of driving on to Stanton after they finally got done but that wasn’t until 2:00 so Cherie, at the strong urging of Janie, convinced me to find a hotel. Steve and Janie stayed up until they learned we’d checked into a hotel. Something else.

Sunday morning I woke at 7:30 and shook Cherie, who was fast asleep. “Wake up. We need to get going” I rudely announced. She was all for that. We grabbed the free hotel breakfast stuff that looked palatable and checked out. Now that it’s daylight out I can see so inspected everything carefully, wondering at how we didn’t lose the tractor or flip over. It looked fine.

We don’t have a choice but to get on the interstate so I put on the emergency flashers and we drove the remaining couple hundred miles at about sixty mph, hell sometimes fifty. I’m not in a hurry. When we finally rolled into Stanton I had to get gas so we pulled into the Town and Country. Filling up I headed for home. We were about two miles from the house, just where we could see it from the road, when I felt a rumble. Looking out the mirror I see shreds of tire spewing out from the passenger side of the trailer. It was the tire we had to air up when we got to Tonya’s. So that means we lost a total of four tires on this trip.

It’s Sunday morning and there’s no way we’re going to church but I want to get this trailer back together so I can return it to the old man. Sam’s club wanted a hundred bucks for a tire so I decided to shop. One place was closed on Sunday, Walfart didn’t have the right side and Sears was close to a hundred bucks too, so it wasn’t a good tire day.

I got a used tire from Franklin and returned it. When I told the old man he got three new tires and a new used one he said “How much do I owe you?” When I said “Not a thing” his response was “That ain’t right”. I explained that these tires blew under my watch and that’s the kind of man I am, I fix what I break. When he protested I let him know I wasn’t budging so ended it. Probably a little blunt but that’s me.

I went online to learn what I’ve got. It’s a 1959 industrial tractor with a front end loader that looks like it can bust down walls. Made by Massey Ferguson it was advertised as the “Workbull MF 204”. I got it running this morning and scooped a little dirt just to get an idea of what it can do. This will take some practice and getting used to.

I’m tired. Came in at 1:00 when Cherie called to remind me to eat. I never remembered to fix myself breakfast this morning so it’s a good thing. It’s already after four. I dozed off a few times writing this so I’ll post it and get up so I don’t fall asleep. Too much to do. I really want to drive back to where we went off the road to see it in the daylight. And to take some pictures. But Cherie convinced me that there is too much that I need to do here and it would cost money we don't have much of. That's why I ask her advice, she sees with different eyes than I do.


Anonymous said...

What an adventure!! I'm so proud for y'all that you now have a tractor. I know that will help you so much on the farm. I'm thankful that the Lord was watching over y'all on your trip home. God is good!!

love, Jen

Bob said...

No question God's hand guided us through. That's why I want to go back and look, take pictures to show how we came through.

Amy said...

Glad ya'll are okay.....congrats on the tractor! We'd love to have a front end loader! We have a disc, auger and grader blade, but the loader we could seriously use. Congrats again!

Bob said...

I've got a tractor but the only thing it can do for the moment is use the loader or pull something. Now starts the search for implements like a disc, back (grader) blade, tiller, shredder, and other stuff. As always, it's a little bit at a time, piece by piece as we have the resources. Thanks for praying for us on the trip Amy. Looks like we needed it.