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How do I Troubleshoot Gardening Equipment?

I keep getting this same question about troubleshooting garden equipment.  Whether large or smaller motorized or electrical equipment, I have found a simple way to troubleshoot gardening equipment.

Troubleshooting farm equipment 

So I have come up with an acronym that I have been using for decades.  It is S.O.A.R, or Seek, Observe, Act and Reap.   Whenever I have been asked to “fix” something, I do the following.



Once I know what it is supposed to do, and how I think it works, it is time to find out how it really works.

So I am observing how it works or doesn’t work.  Then I am looking for manuals or information about this equipment.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what the equipment is, you can look at everything in this way to get it working again properly.

What do you want to learn from observing and asking how it should work when it is working properly.

Now that I have observed and discovered the answers in the observation phase of troubleshooting, it is time to act.


In 1990 we were living on a private island.   The road grading tractor was a 1958 for tractor.  It has a small 4 cylinder engine and a 3 speed manual transmission.  It was a common tractor and usable by the homeowners.   One day, as I was backing it out of the shop, the transmission would not shift out of reverse.  The clutch worked fine but I could not shift it into first or second gear.

When I finally was able to get the tractor to neutral, I found that the tractor would not shift.  I got some help and we pushed the tractor back into the shop. I removed the gear shift from the top of the transmission.  I quickly discovered that there was parts of the transmission gears stuck in the shift lever.

The solution was to split the tractor in half, and take the broken gears out.  I then found a couple of places that had the replacements at a reasonable price.

I replace the gears, tested them and put the tractor back together.  It works fine even today.  We spent about $250 to repair the tractor.  If we had sent it to the shop off the island, it would have cost $300 for the barge to get it to the mainland.  So for that it was a great deal for the homeowners association.


Reap what you sow.  By sowing the seeds of good maintenance, you reap items that last longer

By learning about what you own and keeping records, you can discover trends and how long certain things last.  The more information you have the better!

If you are unsure about equipment, learn all you can about your equipment. Find a good mechanic shop that will listen to your concerns.  Be wise about spending your money, purchase quality products and keep them maintained meticulously.

An Eagle keeps its feathers in good condition so that it may SOAR high above the earth.  You can keep your equipment in good condition and SOAR in your garden and farm.

Food4wealth is a great way to learn about growing an organic garden without all of the hard work.

Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams 

Chris Downs, the Caretaker 

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on