This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: tractor

Tractor Fixin’

The last time we blogged about our tractor, it was in pieces after a rear axle had sheared and the axle casing had cracked apart when trying to chisel-plow a field here on the land.

Well, the Lord, in His mercies and will, saw fit to allow us to find replacement parts at a fairly local tractor salvage yard; and so after I was able to go get them, Mr. Gillis, a local friend of the community, graciously offered some more of his time; and we began to work on putting it all back together.

We used the engine hoist to pick up and maneuver the new axle (the combination of the axle and housing really made that piece heavy):

Preparing to Install Farmall 806 Tractor Axle

Here we are trying to position it. Notice that we had placed a new gasket, which I had to obtain from a local Case-IH (the company that now owns Farmall) dealer, in position (the new gasket is the greyish outline on the tractor where the axle casing goes):

Positioning Farmall 806 Tractor Axle for Installation

Mr. Gillis had me cut the heads off of a couple of bolts so that we could use them as positioners, sliding the axle onto them to get it into place while holding the axle up against the tractor. The first time we slid the axle on the bolts, we unknowingly did it out of position; and then the new axle casing appeared as if it was the wrong part! But after getting the holes aligned correctly, it was the correct part (thankfully!!):

Installing Farmall 806 Trator Axle

And here is the replacement axle in place. Notice, though, the large hole behind the chain in the front of the axle casing (you can see it in the above pictures a little better):

Replacement Farmall 806 Tractor Axle in Place

Well, that large hole in the front is where the drive gear goes. We thought it went in after the axle went on; but once the axle was bolted, we realized we couldn’t get it to fit in, which meant removing the axle again. Once on the ground, we still couldn’t get it into place, and then realized that the main “bull gear” (which is the large gear shown in the last picture of the “Tough Tractorin'” blog post above) needed to be removed to get the drive gear in place. However, that couldn’t be removed without removing a new replacement bearing we had pounded into place onto the axle. Sadly, removing that bearing didn’t go too well; and I ended up cracking the casing; and so, we just broke it off (it took over an hour to do that), and had to get a new bearing (which meant stopping for the day that day). Once we got a new bearing, we put the drive gear and bull gear in place, installed the new bearing, and were once again ready to go. You can see in the picture the drive gear in place now:

Farmall 806 Tractor Axle with Drive Gear Installed

And so, we reattached the axle, and then started putting everything else back. Here you can see the axle and the brakes re-installed (the brake drum went over the drive gear):

Farmall 806 Tractor Axle and Brakes Installed

And last but not least, we put the wheel back on using Mr. Gillis’ front-loader on his tractor and a chain:

Farmall 806 Tractor Axle Replaced and Wheel Installed

And there you have it. When I first drove it after all of this, the center cap of the brake drum had pushed out and disappeared, and there was a small amount of smoke and flakes coming out of it as I would drive. I eventually figured out one of the brake pads had slid onto the drive gear crooked; and with a little bit of pounding effort, I was able to straighten it out, install a new center cap; and the tractor seems to be working just fine.

We are thankful to the Lord for allowing us the continued intermediate means of the tractor as we endeavor to work the land so as to be able to separate further from the world. I would like to put forth a big push this year to try to get our fields under control, including getting our upper field in a perennial pasture grass, which in my estimation requires the use of a tractor; and so, hopefully we’ll be able to do that, as the Lord wills. Once again, we are grateful for God’s graces and mercies in these temporal provisions. And thanks also to Mr. Gillis for his time and effort.

— David

Tough Tractorin’

One thing we’ve lacked in our plowing “arsenal” is something with which to deep plow. In trying to sell some of our cows, Mr. Bunker came across a fellow who wanted to trade a large chisel plow for some cattle; and Mr. Bunker forwarded the information to me, as he wasn’t interested. I took a look at it, and it seemed to be a pretty nice plow, and one that would suit our needs well. I set up the deal with the owner, he came and got his cattle from us, and I went out to his place, about 190 miles away, with Mr. Bunker’s flatbed trailer to get the plow.

Well, when I got there, I found out just how big and heavy it was. The owner had to use a front loader to get it on, and we had to remove the wheels for it to fit. Here are a couple of pictures of the plow:

Side View of 9 Point Chisel Plow
Corner View of 9 Point Chisel Plow

When I got back, six of us men here tried to lift it enough to slide it off the back of the flatbed trailer, but to no avail: it was very heavy. In fact, our neighbor Homer graciously came and lifted it off with the plow chained to his big John Deere tractor’s front loader.

I had to put different tires on the plow, as they had been replaced with ones that were too wide; but one of the local tire shops traded me straight across for ones that would fit, except for the typical mounting fee. I also had to replace one of the hydraulic hoses; but once that was done, I was all set. I even tried a small test plowing to see if it would work, and everything worked great. I was now ready to finally tear up some of the land around here that hadn’t been plowed in many years, to help with our crops and any other land cultivation we might endeavor upon!

Tearing It Up

The big day came where I was planning on plowing some of Mr. Bunker’s land; and then I was going to do our inner area where our goat pens and barn are, in preparation for planting a Winter crop (wheat, oats, or something). I headed up to Mr. Bunker’s and started in. The ground was quite hard, especially in this one area, even to where the rear wheels of the tractor were spinning in the ground; and I sometimes had to lift the plow out of the ground to be able to continue plowing. I thought though, “This Farmall 806 has 94 horse power, and it’s not like I’m dragging a 24 foot wide disk plow behind me…I should be able to just barrel through this ground. What I need is more power!” And so I throttled up and plowed on, waiting to see how our tractor would handle its first real plowing test (I’ve disked fields with a small tandem disk plow, but I’ve not really done anything that has ever really strained the tractor).

It was doing pretty well until I got to that difficult part again. It stopped the tractor again, but I thought I’d see if it would “bull” through. Well, it did — right through the right rear axle. I heard a loud pop, stopped for a second, tried to go forward again, and the rear wheel started to cave in on the cab area. Uh oh. I hopped off the tractor to take a look. The axle casing was cracked wide open, fluids were coming out, and the axle shaft itself had sheered like a sheer bolt.

Here you can see the wheel angled in:

Rear Wheel on Broken Axle Tilted in on Farmall 806 Tractor

I can imagine the look on my face at that moment, as I believe I was in a bit of a state of shock. I couldn’t believe what had happened. I sort of just went and set on the front tire of the tractor, kind of dumbfounded. This was major mess-up, and I figured that I had just totaled our tractor.

I was pleased though that it appears the Lord has worked on my heart in relation to things that “happen” to us, in granting more of a trust in His sovereignty and perfect will, as my initial reactions were, at a minimum, better than they almost certainly would have been just a few years ago; and for that I was and am thankful. Also, Mr. Bunker came over and suggested there was a spiritual lesson in there somewhere, which is true.

I’ll admit though, it weighed on my mind for the next week, during which time there were better times of keeping proper perspective, and some not so good times, of which God graciously granted that I not hold on to any bitterness for very long and granted repentance for my improper heart condition concerning the situation. I had to let go of all of the plans I had had for the tractor and plow; trust Him in the situation; and instead of just thinking about the situation and wondering what I was going to do, eventually I asked Him for help to figure that out and maybe even help to get the tractor fixed or help in going maybe another direction (as in, maybe now would be the time to look into a horse team for plowing).

In trying to understand what I was actually going to be faced with in regards to repairs, I went and talked to the local tractor repair place; and they suggested with parts and labor it was going to cost a bundle to get it fixed, and that they’d put their money in getting a new tractor instead; but they also gave me some information on tractor salvage places, in case I wanted to try to find the parts.

Shortly after, one of our neighbors, Mr. Gillis, who has done some other plowing work for us, saw or heard about the tractor. Well, come to find out, he worked in the past as a professional tractor repairman; and given his friendliness toward and willingness to help us, it wasn’t long before he was out here taking everything apart to see to what extent the damages were, and to hopefully get it to a condition where, if we were able to get the parts, we could repair it.

Mr. Gillis and some of the guys were able to get the big rear wheel off using Mr. Bunker’s engine hoist, and you can see Mr. Gillis starting to take things apart:

Farmall 806 Rear Tractor Wheel Held Up by Engine Hoist

This is a close up of the axle and casing attached to the tractor:

Farmall 806 Tractor Broken Axle and Casing

And here is the piece of axle that was still in the wheel:

Farmall 806 Tractor Broken Axle

Now, mind you, we’re not talking a 1/2 inch hex bolt here; we’re talking 3 1/2 inch thick solid steel that sheered away. I figure that probably the stresses on it over the years just finally got to it. Here’s a picture of it next to my shoe so you can get a size reference:

Size Reference for Farmall 806 Tractor Broken Axle

And here is the part of the casing that went with the wheel:

Farmall 806 Tractor Broken Axle Casing

With a little help from me as best I could, Mr. Gillis got it all apart, including the other pieces, like the gears and breaks:

Farmall 806 Gears, Brakes Removed for Axle Repair

And so, there it sits, broken, but now apart and ready for replacement parts. As this situation with Mr. Gillis arose, I thought perhaps the Lord was being gracious in answering my prayer for help through the situation, maybe even to being able to fix the tractor (although I’m still keeping an open mind about perhaps going another direction). I’m in the process of trying to find parts, and perhaps, Lord willing, I’ll have an update to this time of tough tractorin’.

I am thankful to God for His graces and mercies in granting some apparent growth in trust in Him, although I am woefully pathetic in that area still; but I pray for a continued increase in measure of those graces that only He can grant and provide. And I pray for anything else He might teach us from this situation.

— David

Hi-Ho, The Derry-o, The Farmer is a Belle

I do a lot of the outside chores around the homestead here, and there are ways of doing things that are either required by the task at hand or the implements being used for it, or that are based on good procedures I’ve discovered for performing the work. I try to teach Sue these things and especially why I do them or how the things involved work so that she understands those and can perform them herself if I am not around, not in a robotic way just following directions, but in a way where she can analyze a situation and respond properly.

One of thing things I thought would be good for her to know, and might be fun for her to do at the same time, is drive the tractor in delivering hay to our animals:

And so, here is the fun in action! (Please be careful with the volume; it’s often a little loud.)

We are thankful again to the Lord for granting us the resources to feed our animals and perform these duties around the homestead, and I am thankful for the wonderful and willing to learn help meet He has granted me.

— David

Workin’ the Fields

Well, with the open fields we had, and the size of them, in our typical city (industrial) mindset, I decided we must need a tractor: something to pull implements to plow, till, plant, trim, etc. the fields. We found a 94 horse power diesel tractor in the “Thrifty Nickel” (the local classified ads publication) for a pretty good price. We went to look at it and met the owner, who was a gentleman farmer in his 80s, still a foreman on the jobs he ran. We found out that he was liquidating his farm basically, and so he not only had his tractor for sale but also a 250-300 gallon diesel tank with a 12V pump. So we bargained, and we were able to purchase the tractor and the diesel tank, which incidentally was probably 2/3 full of diesel.

The tractor is a Farmall (International Harvester) 806, probably made some 50-60 years ago, and still running great.

My mother-in-law had previously bought me a couple of sweat shirts that fit somewhat into our new lifestyle, one a John Deere, the other, it just so happens, was a Farmall:

And here is our own “gas” station:

We’ve since been able to get a tandem disk plow and grain drill, and so we are grateful to the Lord to be able to work our fields.

One day we hope, Lord willing, to be able to pull field-working implements with animals we have raised and trained; or if there are other “old path” ways to work the soil, we hope to implement them.

Oh, and Sue wanted me to include this picture:

— David