Take care under the hood
By Roger Welsch
A couple years ago, I had a new wiring harness, battery setup, and distributor installed. No, not in one of my tractors. In me. The old system was worn out, the dealer told me, so I had to have some new aftermarket parts and upgrades installed. Which is to say, a pacemaker. And I didn’t argue because we had tried pretty much everything else, including getting a jump start with the old wiring.
As usual with antique equipment, there were plenty of my buddies who had suggestions about less-expensive alternatives. My wife, Lovely Linda, bought me a new girlie calendar, saying, “Sometimes it’s easier to keep an old engine idling than to jump-start it fresh every time.”
A doctor in a nearby town, also a restorer of antique tractors, suggested that I could save us all the trouble of a zap with a defibrillator by simply idling down one of my Allis WCs to its lowest rpm, wetting my fingers, and grabbing a couple of spark plug wires. Having already done that by accident a few times, I passed on that suggestion.
Besides, my cardiologist has some cute scrub nurses (OK, a couple aren’t that great. Yes, Bruno, I’m thinking of you).So I went to the hospital for the rewiring job. And it worked fine. I was back up to full load and road gear in no time.
SO WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS NOW?
Well, I’m just back from an installer’s check and recalibration session, and it occurs to me that I’m probably not the only old farmer/tractor restorer/geezer who has had this after-factory work. I wonder how many other guys are like me and only found out after they became bionic that some normal daily activities are now verboten?
For example, be sure to check with your cardiologist about the wisdom of tearing into a stick-welding or chain-saw operation. Be careful about working too close to running machinery of any kind with that ticker-talker inside you.
You sure don’t want to go through any airport metal detectors; that thing inside your chest is, um, metal. That doorway you walk through will reset your pacemaker, and suddenly you’ll not feel at all well. In fact, the guys who have to carry you across the terminal and out the door won’t feel all that good, either, especially if you still supersize your french fries.
I just heard a story about a farmer who was caught in a tornadic storm and the lightning reset his pacemaker. It left him so queasy that he quickly got to a doctor to have the dials, switches, and fuses reset on his voltage regulator.
Such a technological device and insert is indeed remarkable and does make a difference in our lives. But like any other mechanical-electrical device, it can’t be installed and forgotten. The owner-operator has to be aware of how it is working.