madshutterbug (madshutterbug) wrote,

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Moderately Busy Back At The Ranch

Not sure what or if I posted yesterday. Ah Memory. That's what you're becoming, a memory.


Herself hied herself off to Horse Arena to help clear property owned by the Shire Amurgorod (SCA group she plays in), since the owner of said Horse Arena recently died and the status of said Horse Arena remains indeterminate pending estate probate etc. We emptied out Forrest NissanPickup and hitched her trailer and there she went rather than the particular Farmers Market she's been frequenting on Sundays recently.

Meanwhile, back at teh Ranch I conducted morning rounds with the Border Collie Bros, fed those that are fed in the morning, and started laundry. Laundry continued as in intermittent all-day activity, rather more inter than mittent, with portions to be completed today.

Inter the mittent, I resumed work on Harrison Ford 8N Tractor. Some history here, Herself's Father helped us find Harrison back in '98. Clyde and my Father shared a birth date in common, plus some other things which tickled and amused us all over time. So Clyde and Dad both enjoyed hearing about our efforts to turn these 40 acres/ 16 hectare from open grassland with copses of live and laurel oak and mixed trees into a functioning ranch. Both, on occasions, contributed capitol to the process. Clyde's contribution involved finding a 1951 Ford 8N in working condition, partially restored cosmetically but not historically. Thus, we've owned this tractor for 12 years.

Two years ago, for various reasons, Harrison didn't get run for a bit needing some mechanical work. Now we're getting him back on his wheels. Initially the bit that slowed us down was the exhaust pipe and muffler rusting out sufficiently to fall off back in '04, yet I continued to run him without the muffler until '08. Bought a replacement, never got around to mounting it. This didn't hurt much (I wore ear protection, and besides, we aren't talking a Grand Prix road-racing engine here). However, engines are designed with the inherent back-pressure of an exhaust and muffler, and one day after a few months he wouldn't start. That probably more the battery, mind you. Still... procrastination... and the next thing is last year October I'm looking at him thinking damn, the radiator hoses are cracked.

That's where we started. And, as we move along and my guide makes the comment "Well, you've got those off and the radiator probably needs flushing and testing and possibly leaks fixed, so it needs to come off." That meant the cowling needed to come off. That made the fuel tank accessible and oh, my bit of rust there. So the tank needs to go with the radiator to be boiled out, derusted and painted. And oh, look, bit of rust on the underside of the cowling, that needs addressing...

As more of these things come off, says my Guide, you start to look at things and say well, we're here anyway might as well do this too because it will be easier. That's what led to dismounting the generator. Ahem. Originally, 8N's ran on a 6 Volt electrical system. Also originally at the particular time, they are wired 'reverse polarity' meaning the Red Cable connects to the Negative Terminal and the Black Cable to the positive one. I'd discovered that back in '01 while changing out my first battery on Harrison, discovered it the hard and bitter smoky way.

Pertinent to this discussion (as I've not repeated that mistake since replacing the wiring that burned out) is that the non-cosmetic restoration work prior to our purchasing Harrison involved 'upgrading' him to a modern 12 Volt system since 6 Volt batteries large enough for even what is a light ranch tractor are rare items these days. Since the generator used is in no wise original equipment, said renovator jury-rigged a mounting of a (probably) second-hand functional 12 Volt generator. It worked. Initially I didn't think much about it until the first time I changed the fan belt, and getting the tension on the belt correct took a tad more work than I thought it should of, due to the jury-rigged mount.

Even previous to this, when replacing those burnt wires my Guide and I got shocked while turning the tractor over, and looked closely at the spark plug wires, and Oh, My Dried & Cracked Insulation. So I'd previously purchased a replacement spark plug wiring harness, distributor cap, and ignition coil 10 years ago or so. Those are mostly in good shape, though I need to replace the ignition coil. Good news is, those are available at most any auto parts store being a standard 12 Volt ignition coil.

Ah. Parts available. Mother Mary, Clyde's wife, nattered at me once shortly after the purchase (when we drove down to their house to pick up Harrison, in fact) 'Why did he buy you this old thing! He should of gotten you something newer.' And I told her (having done an extensive web search already) that there are so many of these 8N's still running, either in the hands of collectors who are lovingly restoring them to 'Factory (near)Original' or in the hands of people like ourselves who need a light tractor only, that there are still lots and lots of parts available.


So we were looking at the spark plug harness and complementing ourselves on the great job done replacing that earlier except now, the spark plugs themselves are ... showing porcelain. OK, so if you've seen a spark plug (if you've been around a petrol powered lawn mower you've seen a spark plug) you will say, but you do see porcelain!

Yup. Only, you are supposed to see it only above the metal threaded portion that mounts the plug in the cylinder head or engine block. Not through that metal portion.

Spark plugs, being comprised of a fair amount of porcelain are both tough and fragile items. One needs special sockets for a socket wrench set to tighten and remove them. Fortunately I've such sockets. However, with as much of that metal which disappeared (corroded away), that meant the metal remaining is weaker for that reason. What I greatly feared is the shattering of a spark plug with portions still in the cylinder head. That is a much harder, or at least involved, repair. Involves removing the cylinder head, and associated gasket, drilling out the offending plug, removing the remainder all without damaging the existing threads, then replacing the gasket (which never survives removal) and head, then replacing the plugs.

Which would undoubtedly lead to 'Well, while we're in here we might as well...'


I am pleased to announce that all four old plugs came out without too much trouble, without shattering or leaving behind undesired aspects, and that all four new plugs threaded in rather easily. ::Heaves Huge Sigh Of Relief::

Guide showed up to help shortly after all four old plugs came out, and did help with getting one plug to go in by finger tightening rather than wrench tightening. Reason for only finger tightening so far is, we need to determine if the pistons are frozen to the cylinders, or if they will move. Easiest way to do this is, put in a freshly charged battery, connect same Properly (see above re. Reverse Polarity), then Remove The Spark Plugs so there will be No Compression, turn the ignition switch On and hit the starter button.

Why yes, folks who are used to turning the key in the ignition and hearing the engine start, Harrison Ford 8N Tractor has a separate Ignition Switch and Starter Button. Trust me, I consider this a safety feature.

This will tell us two things. First: is the existing wiring intact enough to kick in the starter motor? Second: Are the pistons free enough in the cylinders to move? If the starter motor doesn't kick in then there are two possibilities. The first is seriously that new wiring needs to go in here, because I'm planning on doing that already after inspection. The second is that the starter is kaput. I may eliminate the one possibility before even trying to crank Harrison simply because hey, then we're down to two possibilities: he turns over, or he doesn't.

Now, failure of the starter motor isn't a drop dead on even seeing if the pistons and cylinders are free moving. 8N's are designed to be able to hand-crank start. If we can find (make) a hand crank, and turn him by hand, well, then yes, the pistons are free moving. Why use the electrical starter first then? Well, because we can, because I'm lazy that way, and because if it doesn't work now, it is easier to replace now than after things are re-installed across the board. 'While we're here we might as well...'

Meanwhile there are other things to do. The front bumper is moved over onto the work table, there to be wire-brushed Seriously for de-rusting, then primed and painted Ford Red. The cowling will go over to Guides Place for light sand-blasting to de-rust and then painted as well. There is that wiring to be replaced because I see bare wires in a lot of spots. The fan shroud may be re-attached to the radiator in preparation to re-mount the radiator... but remounting will wait until we know that the pistons are free moving. Because if they aren't we're back to removing the cylinder head and possibly more, and that will undoubtedly lead to more 'While we're in here...'

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: life the universe and everything, ranch

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