Heard In The Freight Yard

By Staff

(A reprint from Tractor and Gas Engine Review, Nov. 1918), Sent
to us by Ted E. J. Worrall, Star Route, Box 62 Loma, Montana
59460

It was a freight yard, located in an energetic dirty city which
boasts of the volume of implements that are distributed through it
each year.

It was that portion of the yard sacred to tractors. Busy switch
engines were shunting in cars loaded with new tractors, who under
the stimulation of attendants, snorted as they felt their sparks
and rolled out of the cars onto the long platforms, and then down
the runway to the big tractor stables.

In one corner, there was a disconsolate group of old tractors
who looked as if they had been out on a week’s drunk. It was in
this corner that the tractors conversed life as they knew it and
insulted the reputations of their ancestors, the designers.

‘How did you get here, old Behemoth?’ asked a rattle
trap tractor which was suffering from a broken connecting rod and a
few other ailments. The question was addressed to a mammoth
track-layer.

Behemoth raised first one track and then the other trying to
shake the mud and grit out of his links. A couple of link pins fell
out. ‘It’s not a pleasant story,’ he answered. ‘You
know the people who made me claimed that I could stand anything.
They said I could go through mud, over snow, clamber ditches, ride
sand, in fact do everything but chase U boats and fly to the moon.
Well, I could, pretty near, if my engine was only big enough. But
you see, the man who bought me got the idea that I could pull
anything that would not stall my motor. He forgot that just because
I never slipped I could be overloaded. There’s not enough
babbitt left in my system to bush a watch bearing.

‘Then he would make me go through sand, and it gets in my
crawlers. That of itself would not be so bad, but he would smear
grease all over the tracks because he did not like the noise I
made. You see, my track links can’t help making an awful
clatter when I walk, and he did not like it. Well, the grease made
the sand stick, and you can see the condition of my tracks now. I
shed pins every step I take.

‘The factory man who looked me over swore when my owner was
out of hearing, but he said they could put me in fair condition if
I was sent to the hospital at the factory. And that’s where
I’m headed.

‘I don’t know what you’re here for,’ concluded
the Behemoth to the machines around, ‘but I’ll say just one
thing more. Don’t let your owner overload you. He’s heading
you for the tractor graveyard just as sure as greasy sand eats my
tracks.’

‘I never had a chance to wear out my babbitt,’ snickered
Rattle Trap. ‘I was sold for a three plow machine, and I had as
much chance of pulling three plows as you, Old Behemoth, have of
plowing corn.

‘When my designer bought his motors, he wanted to save
money. He did all right, but to show enough power on the block, the
engine man speeded up my engine fifty percent over what it was
designed to run.

‘Another thing, my designer never had plowed an acre of
ground in his life, and he put 8-inch wide drivers on me. Then to
save money, he bought cheap bull gears, and my drive pinion was not
even heat treated.

‘The dealer who sold me did not know these things, and I was
almost pretty when I was new.’ The tractor here simpered to the
assemblage at large, and a homely one cylinder machine in the
corner snorted under his breath.

‘Well,’ continued Rattle Trap, ‘my dealer drove me
out into the country and all the farmers came for miles to see me
run. I was hooded over just like an automobile, had fenders over my
wheels, and was beautifully painted, and they all admired my trim
figure.

‘But it certainly was sad. They put me to work in some nice
black gumbo and hitched on a brute of three bottom plow. That
scared me too for the plow growled something about what it would do
to me when I started.

‘As soon as I began to hit on all four, my driver jerked in
the clutch and dropped two plows. I strained till I almost cracked
my radiator but I managed to keep going. Then he dropped the third
bottom, and goodnight. I simply dug myself in. The driver asked me
if I thought I was a blooming boche digging for cover.

‘Then he got out some big lugs and put them all around my
wheels. I started off better, but no sooner did he drop the third
bottom than I felt an awful pain in my crank case, and something
punched a hole in it.

‘They examined me and found that my third connecting rod had
broken in two. I had stripped half the teeth off my bull gears, and
my crank shaft had sprung. So here I am, and I don’t know what
they will do with me when they get me back to the factory.’
Rattle Trap dropped a few tears from his carburetor.

‘That’s a sad story,’ volunteered a business-like
looking machine next to the shed, ‘but I think mine is
worse.

‘I was designed by a man who knew his business. I’ve got
the best heat-treated cut gears; a high compression motor
that’s as efficient as you find outside of airplanes. When I
got on my farm, I settled right down pulling four 14-inch plows
without even a knock. You see I was designed for gasoline and
I’m a real tractor.

‘Then what happened? My owner read an ad about how a certain
machine burned kerosene and cost only half as much for fuel as a
gasoline tractor like me. I don’t believe it, but that’s
simply a matter of opinion. At any rate, my owner bought a double
bowl carburetor and put on another tank. Then he began to shoot
that dirty, smelly, greasy, indigestible stuff into my
cylinders.

‘I don’t mind admitting I balked somewhat. I boiled my
radiator for the first time in my life. I pre-ignited and knocked
my bearings to attract his attention. There wasn’t anything I
didn’t do to show I was not running right. In spite of all
that, my owner persisted. I began to gum up with carbon. My rings
stuck. That blamed low-grade fuel began to leak into my crank case.
My lubricating oil was all cut to pieces. It forgot what viscosity
was. Then I cut out my bearing, scored my cylinders, wore my
pistons and rings, and now I have not power enough left to pull a
baby carriage. And to think that I once was the best acting tractor
in the country.’ He grunted and leaned against the shed
disconsolately.

The Rattle Trap turned to the staid looking Single Cylinder with
an inquiring look. ‘You burn kerosene, don’t you?’ he
inquired.

‘Yes and I get by with it too,’ said Single Cylinder.
‘My designer knew that you high compression fellows were a
failure on kerosene, so he forgot the word efficiency when he laid
me out in his blue prints. And, believe me, when I rolled out of
the shop, I could take far worse fuel than kerosene and get by with
it. I don’t say that I don’t blow some of it out of my
exhaust, my compression isn’t high, but I’m a whale on
kerosene. You see,’ he said, turning to the four cylinder motor
that had been ruined by kerosene, ‘I never use the same
lubricating oil twice. I have a mechanical lubricator which shoots
fresh oil to each bearing. Furthermore, my cylinder lies on its
side and any unburned kerosene blows out my exhaust instead of
getting between my piston and cylinder.

‘My trouble came in the way I was hitched to my plow. I got
pneumonia from too much side draft. They would not run me so that
the line of pull was the same as the line of draft. When they
attempted to throw the side draft into the plow, it simply refused
to scour. So I had to take it all.

‘The result was that one wheel and the differential had to
do work they never were supposed to do. I’m a two wheeler, so
far as driving is concerned, and when you overload one wheel and
make the other a loafer, I begin to wear about ten times as fast as
I would if I were run right. I stood it for two seasons, and then I
broke. The expert said he could fix me up temporarily but that I
had better go back to the factory for a thorough overhauling. Then
he gave my owner fits. I think they’ll hitch me right next
time.’

A powerful Two Cylinder tractor interrupted by coughing
consumptively. ‘My trouble,’ he said, ‘is that I went
to a section where the dust is nothing but fine sand. I had no
air-cleaner on my carburetor, and when I was put to plowing the
latter part of the summer, I did nothing but suck that dust into my
cylinders. It wore out in two weeks my rings, pistons and
cylinders. I’ve got to have an entirely new outfit, all for
want of a measly little ten dollar air-cleaner.

‘That dust also wore my driving pinions and bull gears. You
see they are not enclosed, and although they are good stuff and
heat treated, when my owner put grease on them the dust stuck to it
and formed a grinding compound. That’s a terrible section for a
self-respecting machine. Before I return, I have an idea the
surgeons will house my driving gears and put on an
air-cleaner.’

‘Then the trouble with all you fellows except Rattle Trap
there is that you were not treated right,’ timidly suggested a
new tractor who had been listening to the experience meeting.

‘Yes, that’s about the size of it, was the reply of
Behemoth. ‘Rattle Trap here never was a tractor. He was built
for a stock seller and from what we have heard, he did that nobly.
Real tractors never will get a square deal until our owners know
more about us than simply to fill our tanks in the morning and to
throw our switches at night. And I suppose human nature is such
that they never will learn unless they pay for it. We tractors
going back to our factories really are lessons for them.
They’ll think so when they get their hospital bills, and they
will remember next time and tell their neighbors.’

‘I hope my owner has paid for his experience,’ sighed
the new tractor plaintively.

A train of empties crashed into the siding and the crew began
loading the derelicts.

‘Well,’ continued Rattle Trap, ‘my dealer drove me
out into the country and all the farmers came for miles to see me
run…’

‘And, believe me, when I rolled out of the shop, I could
take for worse fuel than kerosene and get by with it. I don’t
soy that I don’t blow some of it out of my exhaust, my
compression isn’t high, but I’m a whale on
kerosene.’

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