Aah, I’ve Found the Problem, I Think – Dave’s Garage

Have you ever tried to fix something, had that Eureka! Moment and found a problem that would explain why it did not work, then fixed the problem only to find out that was not the problem after all? You put it back together, confident you finally fixed it, only to see the same problem return. Sure, it worked better, but it still has a problem. Ugh!

I was noticing that my tractor was occasionally not running correctly. I thought I heard the tell tale sound of a head gasket leak several times. I checked the torque of the heads, and sure enough, some of the head bolts were slightly tighter than finger tight. I re-torqued the head bolts and the noise was gone. This, I thought, may explain why the tractor did not always run well under a load. I confidently used the tractor thinking the problem was gone. The noise was gone, and it did run better, but, the same problem of stumbling under a load returned.

In a modern engine, the on board diagnostic computer will pinpoint problems. With a scan tool, a technician can read trouble codes, live data from sensors and use software to direct them to the specific problem. With older equipment, problem solving requires some real problem solving skills.

An internal combustion engine needs compression, fuel and spark to run. As simple as it sounds, there is plenty that can go wrong and cause poor performance.

I went back to trying to diagnose the problem with my tractor. I checked the compression, and it was exactly what it should be for an engine in good mechanical condition.

I suspected the condenser was the problem. After a recent snow storm I tried to snow blow the driveway with the tractor. It stumbled and had very little power. I checked the carburetor and found it was in need of a cleaning. The condition of the carburetor was enough to justify the poor performance of the tractor. While I had the carburetor apart I also pulled the points and condenser and inspected them. The points were very pitted and corroded. I was actually a bit surprised the engine could run with the points as corroded as they were. The condenser did not have the right resistance, so it too was faulty.

When the tune up was done the tractor ran much better, had more power and idled smoothly. The carburetor, points and the con-denser each could have caused the poor performance of the engine. So, what was the main problem? I will never know.

Editor’s notes… Funny the subject of tractors comes up. The one I have had for 16 years recently had a starter problem. After tearing it apart and experimenting several times I went back to it’s home where I bought it in Canada for some advice. When that advice didn’t work out I visited an American dealer for advice… and two more tear-downs later, still no go. I have given up and a re-manufactured unit is on it’s way from mid-west, USA. By now I don’t care if I know the problem, I just want to cut wood and remove a foot of driveway snow. Your right Dave… Ugh!

Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477

Old vs. New

old vs new carsFrom time to time some of my friends and I discuss young people and talk about things that they will never have or never do or just what is different from our generation to theirs’. I am reminded that that is what ‘old’ people do and have done for centuries. I guess I would use the word, ‘matured’ rather than old.

I will start with the ‘book’. There is something about reading a book and having the actual book in your hands. I love to read and have at least one book going all the time. I also have a ‘Nook’ tablet and have several books on that which I have read but it just isn’t quite the same. I can’t really tell you why, it just isn’t. My guess is there are children born today that will never read a book, in book form. They will read books from a Nook, IPad, PC and some will even go to the library and find that all the material has been converted to digital.

Map reading is becoming a lost art also. With the advent of GPS systems, you can throw your maps away. I remember when you traveled you looked forward to collecting maps and all gas stations gave them away. I know some of you collect maps but not for navigation anymore. I guess it is kind of like the compass; there aren’t a lot of people that would know how to use it if they had one. Most cars come with GPS as standard equipment now and if not, your cell phone will have one.

Email has become the letter/note/thank you that used to come in the mail. This type of communication was looked forward to and still is for me. I love getting a nice let-ter/note in the mail. Some people blame the price of stamps, their time (or lack of), but most just never learned to write a letter. I’ll have to ask my grandchildren if let-ter writing is still taught in schools. I will say that I do check my emails and am glad to have one or two in my ‘inbox’ but again, it’s not the same as holding a letter that someone took the time to write and put a ‘forever’ stamp on and mailed and when it was received I knew that it was meant for me and not everyone in your ‘contact’ list.

I could go on and on about the changes in the world from generation to generation. It comes down to, if you never had it – how can you miss it. I’m sure that those of us who never had to walk in the dark at 20 degrees below zero to the outhouse- have ever missed it! And realize that those who traveled West in a covered wagon, never missed the GPS but I bet if given the chance – would have loved it!

This younger generation will not miss some of the things that I have held ‘near and dear’ but I will continue to miss it for them.