Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Air, Fire, Gas....

A few months back - if you recall - I happened upon a 1949 International Harvester "C" in a barn nearby. I talked with the owner for 2-3 years before he finally decided to let it go. It was COVERED in - for lack of a better, usable, term - "Pigeon Paint".

A friend of mine hauled it home for me, and I proceeded to scrape and even SAND the years (and many coats) of the thickly applied coating left behind by the birds. It was not a "fun" task....

After a few weeks, I had it in fairly good condition - at least it was good enough to work on without coming up with Pigeon Paint on me or my clothes - so I set about trying to get the thing running.

As everyone knows, the things needed for a motor to start are:

Air
Fuel
Compression
Spark and
Timing

The first thing I did was take off the carburettor and clean it out. Nothing too in depth there - it was pretty clean for sitting 30+ years. Next came the distributor. I pulled the condenser, filed the points, and cleaned everything up. Even the plugs came out for cleaning and inspection.

Online, I found an electrical schematic that was close to what I needed, and replaced every wire on the tractor (ok, there are only 5 or 6....), complete with soldered ends.

Then the day arrived - the first attempt at bringing the beast back to life after all those years being abused by birds. I hooked up the battery, pulled the switch, hit the starter and......


RRRRRRR.......RRRRRRR.......RRRRRRR......

A whole lot of spinning, but no STARTING, no coughing, no sputtering, no nothin'.
Nothing except a lot of aggravation.

A friend came over, and we made sure the timing was right, the points were right, the plugs were right, and ran through everything 3-4 times. Still, the tractor was playing it's game with us - and WINNING. We couldn't get the thing to fire of for nothing.

So, over the past week or two, I've been tinkering with it an hour or two a day, in between everything else. I've gone over EVERYTHING a couple dozen times, to no avail. It all came down to this afternoon.....

I put a rebuild kit in the carb, tried another set of points, different plugs, and a whole lot of words to make a sailor blush. All did NOTHING toward getting the thing to "pop".

I even resorted to threatening to paint the thing green and setting it out for "yard art" (it shivered a bit at the green paint, but remained stubborn....). I decided to just pack it in for the day - even though it was only 2:30 - and go inside and check a few things on the computer, and text a friend.

It was somewhere around this point that I recalled an old skit that Cheech & Chong did in the 1970's - one about trying to start a car.

Cheech is grinding the starter saying "Come on baby, come on baby....", and Chong asks him if he has any gas. "We can't be outta gas - I put 59¢ worth in two days ago"!

Then the "great epiphany" happened.....

"Did you CHECK THE AIR IN THE TIRES"?

Well, that there was about the only thing left I DIDN'T check! I texted my friend that I was going to go out and air up the rear tires, and see if it made any difference. He probably thought I was nuts, but that's a whole nuther story....

The floor in my barn has never been smoothed out, so it has a nice "bump" about half way in from the front door. Naturally, the fully inflated front tires were sitting dead center on top of this bump - and the two rear tires were flatter than a super model.

So, I get out the air compressor, plug it in, and proceed to air up the tires. Once they were full, the tractor set CONSIDERABLY less "nose up".

The main thing was - the fuel line actually had a DROP in it, instead of forcing the fuel to "climb" to get to the carb (I suppose, if I could afford to fill the tank, it would feed better, too).

Well, I said a quick little prayer, laughed a little to myself, and pulled the stater rod.......

And she fired up after a couple spins. She didn't run LONG, but she RAN! I still need to "tweak" things, but at least I know she does run!

I guess the moral of this story is - don't let anyone tell you that checking the air in the tires won't help you start whatever it is you are trying to start!

It might not be the "air" you'd think of when you list what it takes to start an engine, but it was worth the time it took to check on it this time!

Good luck, and go check your tires.......

1 comment:

  1. I'm learning bits of mechanics here ! haha and I laughed pretty hard reading your story (sorry if my English is bad, I normally speak French, I'm from Quebec, Canada). Nice blog by the way!

    ReplyDelete

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