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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.

I once had a major problem with my tractor, a shiny newish
AGCO, and I had to run to my equipment dealer. We figured out that there was
indeed a design flaw in the tractor’s operation – the operator. Yes, it was me,
and all I had to do to fix the problem was read my owner’s manual and pay
attention to the importance of my role in its smooth operation.

Same with your own body and the upgrades you install to
bring it up to date. As you go through your standard schedule of equipment
maintenance, don’t forget to keep an eye on what’s going on with the most
important implement: You.

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