21/04/2014

Today I’d planned to use the trench-digging implement on the tractor to excavate the two required trenches I mentioned last week. So, bright and early, we went over to the aged FIL to get the tractor ready. But of course, nothing ever goes smoothly. The first problem was that, once again, one of the tractor’s front wheels was flat. The tractor is obviously out of commission until I fix it.

There are actually two spare wheels, but we found that these were both flat as well! We brought the two spares back to La Darnoire where at least I have my tools handy, but I was unable to get one of the tyres off its rim; I need a tractor-sized bead breaker tool. The other spare wheel has what is known as a split rim (basically the rim is in two parts so it’s easier to remove the tyre). I removed the tube, but found that the problem was not a puncture, but a leaky valve. The valve interior thread is basically toast, so inserting a new Schrader valve has no effect. The valve housing itself needs to be replaced. Unfortunately because of the split-rim design, the brass valve housing (which is replaceable) is about 10cm long, with two 45° bends in it. And of course that’s just the type of valve we don’t have!

Fortunately later in the afternoon LSS managed to find (in the dark recesses of the aged FIL’s workshop) another punctured tube with a similar elongated valve, so I was able to use that valve to fix the split-rim tyre. Once the repaired wheel was back on the tractor, we attempted to hitch the ditch-digging attachment to the tractor. After several minutes of effort, this was finally attached; but we then couldn’t find the drive-shaft (and of course the aged FIL couldn’t remember where he’d put it.) After much searching, we eventually found it in his workshop, but as it had not been used for years it needed the application of a stout metal pole as a lever in order to expand it sufficiently to reach from the tractor’s power take-off to the ditch-digger. All of this malarkey meant that by the time everything was ready for actually digging ditches it was starting to get dark. I parked the tractor at La Darnoire ready for an early start tomorrow. I’ve also asked LSS to pick up a new 7.50×20 inner tube the next time she passes by the village’s agricultural supply company, as all the current inner tubes are very heavily patched.

Wildlife diary: LSS reported that out of the ten eggs which were in the duck’s nest, only three are left.

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