St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Winterizing on the Farm and Tractor Troubles

With the warm weather coming to an end (probably the warmest November and warmest overall Autumn I can remember), decided to get to the winterizing.
Tulip bed around the old mailbox in the yard.  When it was hard for Mom to walk down to the road mailbox, the post office allowed her to have one in the yard.  We turned it into a flower bed.

Spent the morning spreading hay to mulch the strawberries, blueberries, tulip bed, septic tank and the drainfield. Most years snow does this, but it is better to be prepared.
Two months ago, I bought a Leyland 344, 1972 diesel tractor from my brother. He had it many years and was ready to get rid of it as he still has two other tractors and it was having some problems.
Snow blower and Leyland both in the machine shed shared by two Farmalls, a lumber pile, corn planter, corn elevator and a much more tools including a full blacksmith setup scattered about.  

So I bought it as a more powerful tractor for the farm. It is about 50 hp, has 3 point hitch, and although older, runs pretty good and has the things an old guy wants, power steering, live PTO, and live hydraulics, all missing on my other tractors.
Diesels are notorious as hard starting in winter. As I hadn't started the Leyland tractor for several weeks -- it started fine in 50F temperatures we have been having, yesterday I thought I would try starting it at 30F.
It turned over a little, but the battery quickly gave out and it never fired at all. So today I followed brother Marv's instruction (it was his tractor) and plugged in the water hose block heater and the battery charger and left them for three hours and then it started up fine. I don't plan on using it for a winter tractor, but was curious if I could--and most tractors should have a monthly start to keep them functional.
The Super C Farmall didn't get its start this year. It wouldn't start, even when Scott pulled it up and down the road. No spark. So I pulled out the battery and the wiring harnesses, hidden away under the steering posts had been invaded and chewed up by a mouse. I have normally cranked this tractor, as the starter bearings are bad, so decided to give it a rejuvenation.
New starter, new battery cables, new on/off switch, new plugs, new points, and new wiring where the mouse had been. Still in the process of working on it -- but the new starter certainly turns over fine even with the 6-volt battery (one year old). So that tractor is a few days and a few parts from being ready.
The 350 Farmall is back in the garage waiting for some more work and the loader I bought from Sister-in-law Connie. Had planned to get that going (it runs OK, but the gas tank needs cleaning, and the steering hydraulic hose leaks, and a few other annoyances as well as it needs new engine rings. But as it is planned to be a loader tractor, the rings can wait. I let it spin over a minute or two so the engine would not rust in place.

Anyway, to get back to the winterizing, tried the Cub Cadet and found out the battery was dead even with my battery maintainer connected. The battery is old, but with a maintainer I had hoped to stall off a new one until next year. It appears the maintainer has given up maintaining, so a new battery and new maintainer are next. The snowblower is really the only winter tractor
I need to run unless I am hauling wood.
I have the 9N Ford which starts good even in winter with a shot of ether in the manifold for hauling wood and with the back blade for cleaning the driveway, but I use that at the maple syrup farm 2 miles away.
The rest of the winterizing is in the house with some plastics on a few of the oldest windows, and some furnace tuning. Ready for the brunt of cold weather ahead soon.
Margo is keeping it warm inside busy baking cookies with help from our son Scott, who likes cooking. They make 5 or 6 batches of one type of cookie each day. This week they made mint chip, peanut butter topped with a Hershey kiss, and pecan balls. They took a few hundred to the open house at the Luck Museum as treats.