|We've only had it for a year.|
The engine still runs but there is a problem with the transmission. Fixable? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, it set off a rather lengthy discussion about our goals, needs, and working smarter on our homestead.
Before we bought The Beast we set out to find a farm tractor. We scoured Craigslist and Dan traveled many miles in search of something that matched our pocketbook. Such a tractor did not seem to exist, or at least not one that was in working order. All too many ads said "runs great" only to have it mysteriously not start when Dan went to look. Or the battery had just died. Or the owner forgot to put fuel in it. Or there was something they didn't mention in the ad that they were sure was "easy" to fix. When the walk-behind turned up, Dan went to look. It started right up so he bought it.
One of the problems with buying equipment that is no longer manufactured is that it's difficult to find replacement parts. For example, ours needed a coulter. The purpose of the coulter is to cut the ground ahead of the plowshare. The plow then turns over the ground with a nice, neat edge. Without it, the plow is difficult to control.
|Simplicity Model W Walk-Behind Tractor|
Coulters are available for larger tractors, but we need a 10-inch size, smaller than standard. First Dan contacted our local John Deere and Kubota dealers. Unfortunately they specialize in lawn tractors and didn't have a clue about plows and coulters. One said he'd look into to it but we never heard from him again. The next step was for Dan to try to make one.
|Homemade coulter, made of a 10" saw blade & two grinding wheels.|
|The grinding wheels add strength & keep the saw blade from bending.|
Another problem he had was that the tractor isn't heavy enough to plow our tough ground. It needed more weight in the front. Again, these weren't available to he added his own.
These are the challenges of older, no longer manufactured equipment. Dan is definitely going to try to fix it but we still question what the best option is. I've researched no-till for field crops but learned that a tractor is still used, just with different implements, things like seed drills and seeding discs, which were not made for our walk-behind tractor.
Even if The Beast can be fixed it will eventually break down again, and once again we'll struggle with parts we can't get. Every time this happens it creates a tension between work to be done and the time required to fix the equipment. On top of that it is heavy and takes strength to control.
A small farm tractor still seems like the best option for us, especially as we get older and need better work-smarter-not-harder options, especially ones that will enable us to conserve strength and energy. On top of that, a four-wheel tractor is a better candidate for converting to wood gas than the two-wheel one.
The question now is can we find one that runs and we can afford? Can we find the attachments? Ours has never been a big agricultural area so most farm tractors around here are only used with belly mowers or bush hogs.
I suppose we'll just have to wait and see. Do stay tuned.