To Torque or not to Torque

Reader Contribution by Lois Hoffman
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People are usually split on both sides of the fence when it comes to the right brain, left brain theory. It’s true that each side of a person’s brain controls different functions. The right side is associated with cognitive skills like creativity, emotion and intuitiveness. Right-brained people are characterized as being artistic and innovative but have a less organized way of thinking. On the other hand, left-brained folks are more analytical and methodical. They are more systematic, are more organized in their thinking, and deal more in mathematics and facts.

Although there are left-brained and right-brained thinkers in both sexes, I think more women are classified as right-brained while more men tend to be left-brained. I tend to refer to this distinction as “women like chocolate and men like beer.”

As for me, there is not a shred of doubt into what category I fall into; no question, I am definitely right-brained. I do consider myself to be creative and intuitive, but I also thought that I had a pretty good handle on being organized and practical. Helping Ron with harvest these last two years has definitely caused me to rethink this.

What brought this whole issue front and center is one little word called “torque.” It’s this lever on the left side of his International tractors that is giving me fits. Actually, the proper term for this lever is “torque amplifier.” The way he explained it to me is that the torque is like an extra gear for the tractor. I get that. What I don’t get is what exactly I do with it.

In my defense and before all you farmers start laughing, I do as I always do in situations where I don’t understand; I do a little research. What I found was that it is an additional gear box with two speeds and its own clutch. It can be shifted without the use of the foot clutch. If you are pulling a load such as a wagon of grain and you start to bog down, you can shift the torque to low (toward you) without pushing the main clutch and coming to a halt and having to restart again. After you are going, you can push it forward to speed up without clutching or slowing down.

What I also found out, while checking out the comments forum in Red Power magazine, is that a lot of guys were writing in and asking what the lever to the left of the tractor was and what was it used for. Aha, it is not just me and my right brain that is confused about torque!

Also in my defense, I do have enough left brain in me in that I follow orders precisely. Granted, it has been over 30 years since I have driven tractors in the field to help my Dad, but I do know enough to respect them. They are bigger than I am. The first thing Ron ever told me when I started driving his tractors was “Don’t ever touch that lever (the torque).” No problem, one less thing to worry about.

Then we got into harvest. Pulling a load over the rough end rows, he’s telling me to pull it back. Fine. Then I’m headed to the bin and he’s telling me to push it forward. Fine. This is all in addition to figuring out what regular gear to be in. I could probably get this, except it changes all the time. It’s rougher here, use the torque, it’s smoother here, don’t use the torque. Go in second gear. Hurry up, go in third. Really, does it have to be this hard?

I am a creature of habit. If I pull a load out of the field in a certain gear today, then it should work that way for the entire season. Oh no, it depends on whether it is wet or dry, how heavy the wagon is loaded, whether I have one wagon or two, and how close he is to needing me and the empty wagon! Really, my right brain is supposed to figure all this out!

So far, this whole scenario has been just about torque. Nevermind that when it comes to being in the right spot in the field at the right time, I pretty much am not. I really admire my friend Monica who usually runs the grain cart the entire harvest season. She stays just out of the way until the guys combining are ready to dump and then she is at the right spot and at the right speed so that they never have to stop. She makes it look so easy.

Again, not so with me. It’s not rocket science to figure out that when his hopper is nearly full, I should be there. So, I head down the field toward him but I either go too far or not far enough. I have also been told that the combine matches the speed of the grain cart operator. Nope. I am constantly going too slow or too fast for dumping on the go. I think he should just be glad that there is any grain in the wagon at all after trying this!

I have also been told that you should always turn around so that, after he dumps, the tractor and wagon is headed back toward the bin. This makes perfect sense, after all why would you want to turn around with a full wagon? So, I turn around, am headed the right direction so I can just move along with him to dump when he is beside me. Really, I actually thought that this would work? Oh no, his hopper is full before he reaches me, so I turn around again and am now facing the wrong way. So, he sits patiently (I am being nice here) while I go past and turn around yet another time.

I know that there are plenty of women who make this look like second nature. So, why is it so hard for me? His theory is that I overthink it. Perhaps he is right because having perfection is also a trait of the right-brainers.

I am making progress though. Last year my big deal, besides knowing when to use torque, was being able to pull up to the auger so that I was in position to unload. I was either too far ahead or not far enough. We won’t even discuss the backing up! So, this year I have that part down to a science and I am really working on being at the right place at the right time.

I always like to look on the bright side of things. Since this is only my second year of “helping” him, I figure that if he farms 15 or more years, I should have most things pretty much down pat. The only thing that may still throw me is if to use torque or not to use torque!

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