Head Smack and a Broken Rib
I finally had some accidents. Both were doosies, but not life threatening. I’ll provide some background:
I was coming out of the woods about three weeks ago with another log strapped to the trailer, and was feeling all proud of myself for getting it. I got to the edge of the road and noticed the tractor wouldn’t turn left. “hmm,” I thought, “that’s strange.” I couldn’t find anything wrong with it immediately, and even thought about just manually turning the wheels when I needed to. But then I remembered how busy the road got in front of my property, and realized I was going to have to park the tractor and log and get it fixed. The dealer I bought the thing from offered $100 pick up and delivery for any repairs. But when they repaired my tire, it took them four days, and lots of whining from me to get it done, even though I took the wheel off myself and brought it to them (the look on the guy’s face was funny: “Most folks just let us come get the whole tractor….” I guess I’m not ‘most folks’.)
A quick google search (“ford 3000 diesel tractor won’t turn left”) informed me that this was a very common problem, caused when a 49 year old tractor turns 50: a shim breaks loose inside the steering column, allowing the worm gear in the gear box to loosen the steering rod- it comes unscrewed. The shim and bearing was $35.00, or I could get the whole thing- steering gearbox – for $350. I thought if the bearing went, what of the other 47 parts was going next? and bought the steering gearbox. It showed up about 4 days later, and I went to put it on, and it was broken:
Packed it up, sent it back, new one five days later, this time not broken. I started to put it on, and had to lever the gas tank out of the way. The bottom of the steering gear box has a bulge on the bottom end that sits down inside the top of the transmission- you can see the clutch plate down in there- but it doesn’t connect to it directly other than with four bolts on the frame of the transmission. I had to lift the gas tank up out of the way in order for the bulge end of the gear box to slide in, and while muscling it in there, the thing flipped up and the steering rod clocked me in the temple pretty hard. Hard enough that I felt woosey, and thought I was going to throw up- or worse- pass out. I was alone at the time, and the neighbors were out of town. No one knew where I was- my wife knew I was working, but didn’t know exactly where. If something happened, it could be hours before I was found. I sat down on the ground for a few minutes thinking that if I passed out, could I call my wife before I did? I make sure I wear my cell phone on me at all times, and I have voice commands enabled, but it was a scary thought.
Got the thing hooked up, and dragged the log over to my property with no other issues. The new steering is smooth and easy, by the way, and still manual.
The broken rib incident:
This log- I had it jacked up against this tree, trying to maneuver the trailer underneath it. This is before I put the trailer under it just in case. Once I had the trailer in place, I thought I could sneak under it very quickly instead of walking around the whole thing. But unfortunately,
If you look closely, you can see the branch on the bottom that broke my rib when I ducked underneath.
It’s caused a lot of concern. I put it out there for the other LHBA members
to laugh at for advice. I wasn’t doing anything insanely stupid, but I wasn’t thinking correctly either. It could have been a lot worse. I could have been a lot stupider. I’ve come to the conclusion that (and I posted this on the LHBA forum:
I’ll just throw this out there so some can learn from my mistakes. I like doing things the hard way, by the way. Yes, really. Otherwise, I would learn from my mistakes. 🙂 And mind you, they are not huge mistakes, and I plan to recover from them, but here goes:
1. always pick up the light end of the log when skidding. Seems like my problems with log handling get multiplied x10 when I DON’T do this: later on down the road, the tractor won’t turn cuz the front wheels are off the ground. or the load shifts, and you have to readjust, or a hundred other things happen. Do it right the first time- even if you have to work a little more up front to get what you want. It pays off later.
2. I find I’m doing a lot of small steps (to save time, right?) when I should stop, take my time, and do one big step. Example: instead of taking my mechanic friend up on his offer to weld a “coffin crane” to my log trailer so I can load logs onto it directly and easier, I’d rather: use 2 tractor jacks bolted together with a section of I-beam on either side of the log to lift it high enough to get on the trailer. Or, build a tripod out of 12′ branches held together with tow chain and then hang a chain hoist in the middle to lift the log high enough, only to find out that it isn’t quite high enough, so lower the log back down, move the chain hoist higher on the tripod, then jack it back up, only to find out that now, I can’t get the trailer underneath it where I want, because the tripod is in the way. 🙂 I just talked to my mechanic today- we are going to solve this problem next week- he’s itching to use his new $800 welding setup. It must be good cuz he drove 2 hours to pick it up.
2a the ditch on my property is 5′ deep, but only has a 10′ wide path across it. not exactly ideal when turning a 50′ log onto it from a road that is only 20′ wide. Which means I have to dump the trailer into the ditch anytime I get a log from down the road. Then I have to use the tractor to pull the trailer back out of the ditch (more time, more in and out of the tractor seat, more hookup, more unhook, more lift, more pull, more potential for problems.)
2b (I was actually smart enough to take care of this one early on): build a road before hauling logs- ok, it’s not a road, but I made a bridge over a small ditch out of branches- it sped things up considerably. Only took me getting stuck 3 times to figure out I wasn’t wasting time by stopping and solving that problem.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Not really looking for advice- I’ve already received a lot- just need to practice it. This is for those who want to do it like me and muscle through without preparing the right tools for the job. It really is about taking the time to do things right, get the right tool for the job if you can afford it, otherwise find a way, a friend, etc. But don’t try to save time/money by doing a bunch of little incremental steps just so you feel like you’re busy. Running around quickly is not the same thing as working slowly, safely, and thoughtfully.
For now, all I’ve been able to do for the last week has been the following:
Digging up blackberries
There are probably a hundred blackberry canes on our property. They’ve been bush hogged for years, so I wanted to dig them up and see if we can get some fruit from them. I dug up 15 and brought them home, and they are looking really sad right now. Hopefully, that will change.
Upgrading the trailer
It would be nice to have a “coffin crane” attached to my trailer for lifting logs, so with rain in the forecast this week, and Ellery’s friend (with a crane I might be able to borrow) coming back from vacation, maybe I can solve this log transportation / rib breaking problem. Without the coffin crane, I have to jack the log up with two farm jacks, which isn’t safe, easy, fast, or effective.
A load of plywood
Found a nice deal on some plywood in Nashville. A guy gets it cheap from a shipping company that uses it one time for protecting those metal shipping containers from dents and dings while crossing the ocean. $7 / sheet is a good deal, right? picking through the pieces with a broken rib wore me out. So did the 90 minute drive that ended up being 3 hours because my trailer isn’t big enough to handle 1 ton of plywood.
Bush hogging vs mowing
I maintained for a while that bush hogging did just as good a job as mowing would. My wife wasn’t so sure. We brought the regular push lawnmower out on Saturday to test this theory. I was completely wrong. The grass where the lawnmower was used looks so good. Now I’m wondering why I bought a bush hogger. Except by the time we would get done mowing the grass by hand, we would have to start over. It would seriously take probably 2 or 3 days to mow over three acres of grass. I guess I have a tractor, so I thought bush hogging it with an attachment would be cheaper than buying a $4k zero turn mower (besides- I’ve never seen anyone skidding logs with a zero turn mower, have you?). Craigslist search for “3 point reel finish mower” didn’t come up with anything useful. I didn’t know there was a difference.
Being unable to peel logs, or cut trees, I decided to add to my collection of musical instruments- I bought a soprano Ukulele. Don’t know why, but four strings is so much easier to manage than the six on my guitar (says the guy who plays a piano with 88 keys…). It’s great. It was only $50. I got the pineapple shaped one because it looked really cute, and no one could really say one sounded better than the other. Besides, the figure 8 style just looks like a little toy guitar. So far, pretty happy with it- I can play about 5-8 songs on it, and I’m hoping that will grow. And I miss my island friends (you know who you are!).