Tractors Just Leak: Little Brother’s Wisdom

Print this entry

Little brother Gregg came over from the Dallas area last weekend to work on the tractor again. It was leaking fluids in two spots, something that never would have been noticed if it were parked outside. But I keep it sheltered in the shop, figuring it will last longer that way. The shop is also home to my woodworking area, a 12×12 foot CrossFit gym, and a bunch of storage boxes. When we bought this place, I figured we would never fill this cavernous building. Now, a little over a year later, it is pretty much full. Someday, we will downsize…

The tractor has consistently had small but annoying leaks. I have to keep shop sand on the floor, which offends my aesthetic sensibilities. Gregg and I have tried a couple of times to fix the leaks. He was a diesel mechanic in the Marines who now works as a database-engineer-manager-something-or-other. But he still knows his way around a diesel engine. This tractor keeps springing leaks in different areas, slow drips that don’t really hurt anything but are annoying.

It was also time to change the oil, according to the maintenance manual. I haven’t changed the oil in our vehicles in decades, but it would be cost prohibitive to take it to a tractor dealer, requiring someone to come get Little Red, as she is known, or for me to borrow a trailer and take it to them. Better to prevail on the little brother, who sincerely welcomes a chance to visit the farm and lend a hand. It is much appreciated.
“Tractors just leak,” he said in a philosophical tone. He pointed out that through bushhogging, picking up tree limbs with the bucket, pushing around piles of brush with same, Little Red does more shaking than Chuck Berry did on stage singing Johnny B. Goode. Bolts loosen, hose clamps lose their grip, seals comes loose. Soon, slow leaks commence.

Gregg tightened several nuts around one of the fuel filters, and a couple on the PTO plate, where hydraulic fluid was leaking, one slow drip at a time. I changed the air filters while he drained the oil. It is a good thing he was not charging by the hour, because these tasks took the better part of the weekend.

A few weeks earlier, as I mentioned, one of the front tractor tires went flat while parked in the shop. I bought a decent bottle jack and a pair of jack stands. Using a breaker bar and with a couple hours of effort, I actually got the flat tire off the wheel and took it to the tire store. I picked it up repaired at no charge (we are longtime customers) the next day. A fully inflated tractor tire weighs a lot more than when it is flat. I had serious doubts I could muscle this back on the wheel by myself.

I called another go-to tractor guy, brother-in-law Jim. After I explained it was the front tire, far smaller than the rear ones, he explained most folks use the bucket as a jack to get the front up in the air, still using jack stands for safety. Dang. I never thought about that. He then kindly texted a drawing of a pair of two 2x4s. One was place parallel to the tractor, the other on top of it at a 90-degree angle. Get the wheel close to the right level using the bucket, he instructed. Then use the 2x4s as a fulcrum to get the tire to the correct level. It worked beautifully. Soon the tire was back on Little Red. I felt as if I had earned my tire fixing merit badge.

After a pleasant dinner at a local restaurant, little brother was ready to go hog hunting. I elected to hold the powerful green light while walking behind him. Besides his rifle, we each carried pistols in our pockets.
“Now, if we find a pack of hogs, and they charge us, you stay behind me and shoot to the right, while I will shoot to the left,” he said.

If they charge us! What do you mean if they charge us?

Gregg told tales of protective sows turning on hunters and coming after them.

“They are carnivores, you know,” he said. This was not the best time to convey this information to me. At least I knew I could outrun Gregg, I thought unchivarously.

I swept the flashlight constantly, spotting strange shapes that turned out to be nothing more than fallen tree limbs. The place sure looks different in the dark: scarier, more threatening. We flushed an armadillo, blindly rooting around, but that was it. The hogs were either laying low or tearing up somebody else’s land. We trudged back to the house, where a skunk was wandering around the front pasture. We left him alone as well.

The tractor is running great, the tires remain inflated, and the pieces of cardboard under Little Red betray only the occasional drip. I can live with that.

Print this entry

Leave a reply

Fields marked with * are required