At the end of Chapter One it was Sat. evening, I had already paid out $312.72 in just a few days time and was facing the deflating prospect of having to shell out more once I managed to get a large, not so round, rear tire off of my tractor and into town for repairs.
Bright and early the next morning I went out to do battle with the tire. My old 8n Ford was in the shed and there wasn’t much room to work so I decided to see if I could at least partially inflate the tire and move the rig outside. With the aid of pliers to hold the valve stem that was trying desperately to disappear into the rim I managed to get a little air in. There was a risk that nearly flat tire would come off the rim and might be damaged but I took the chance and succeeded in moving the old rig out to a level stretch of ground.
There was one minor glitch. Like most nearsighted folks I tend to have to take my glasses off when working close. I’d set mine on the metal tractor seat while I fought with the air compressor. When I jumped up absentmindedly and plopped down into the seat there was a sickening crunch. Things were going from bad to worse. It was Sunday and I’d need my eyeball covers to be able to drive to work the next day. My first thought was that I’d have to drive the 55 miles into Springfield to find a seven-day-a-week eye glass center. Our local Walmart had one that opened at noon on Sunday but I was pretty sure that there wouldn’t be an optometrist on duty. I’d just bought new lenses a month or so before (gratefully they hadn’t been scratched when I landed on them) and thought it might be worth a shot to see if the Walmart folks could fit them to a new set of frames once they opened.
In the meantime I’d deal with the tire. The first order of business before jacking up the tractor was to break the lug nuts loose. One tug on my speed wrench assured me that brawn would not be enough to do the job. Soooooooooo, I employed a trick that I’ve developed during many years of working by my lonesome. Using a heavy duty lug wrench I placed a jack stand on one end and the other on a lug nut. Very carefully (this is the part where my lovely wife took her leave to go to the house) deploying my 215+ on the perpendicular arms of the wrench I was able to break loose the frozen lug nuts. The beauty of using a jack stand is that you can raise and lower it as you work your way around he tire. Due to the possibility of seriously barked shins, I’d strongly suggest to the uninitiated that a cheater bar placed over one of the perpendicular arms of the wrench is a better choice than my gymnastics routine. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to block up a couple of tires and put the rig in neutral to prevent any chance of the tractor rolling. If you have lots of money an impact wrench is an even better idea.
My new hydraulic jack didn’t have a high enough profile to reach the bottom of the rear axle, which sets 21” off the ground, so I scrounged up some dunnage to sit it on, raised the tire off the ground and dismounted it; now how to get it into the back of the pickup. The rear tires weigh around 200lbs and I’m not the spring chicken I was thirty or forty years ago. Employing another trick I’ve learned through the years—I slid my friend the rock bar through the center of the rim, placed the point on the tailgate and used the bar to lever the tire up into the truck.
That done we headed into town to see about my glasses. A very nice lady at Walmart was able to trim my lenses to fit a set of their frames and I was back in business once again—though $68.37 poorer.
The tally was now up to $381.09 and still rising. Stay tuned for Chapter Three