Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Beauty Of Universal Parts

There was, at one time, a model number somewhere on the disk harrow. On the side, maybe, or, more likely, on a plate riveted to the front hitch frame. That would have been a long time ago. When it was new and shiny and someone went to the store and bought it and trailored it home and let it set outside the barn. They would have stood there and looked at it, all new and shiny and set outside the barn.

I don’t stand around and admire it much, these days, and neither does anyone else. The paint is all worn off and it’s been repainted and that’s worn off, too. It’s been scraped and chipped and rusted and someone painted over the rust. What would have been a model number plate wore off a long time ago, or was rusted through, or separated itself from the main disk frame through some unfortunate collision. The plate’s in someone’s field right now, awaiting future archeologists.

I tried to explain all this to the guy at the parts desk, and he was unsympathetic.

"I need a bearing," I said. "For a disk. A Long disk. A blue one. About this big." I held my arms apart. "And an axle. No, two axles. And some flanges and a couple of washers."

Deaf ears.

Apparently, they need more information than that to order the correct part.

I was close to giving up. I had resigned myself to muddling through with the disk, as is, for one more year, though it’s little more effective than dragging a box spring behind the tractor. Then I came across an old catalog. Cheap agricultural parts. Deere and International, mostly. Some Case. Some Allis.

The pictures for the International Harvester disk harrow parts looked surprisingly close to those I needed for the Long. I measured. With a tape measure and a yardstick and a little school ruler that had metric on one side of it. Everything looked like it would match up. I measured again. Looked at the pictures again.

Brilliant. Make a 1 1/8 ‘’ disk axle that’s 40 ¼ ‘’ long and make it so it will fit any harrow. Make the washer bumper square so that it will fit any washer bumper, and use the same groove in ‘em all so the same washers fit. That’s the nice thing about International. And Long, too. Universal parts. Unbolt it from one piece of equipment and bolt it right up to another. Get back in the fields.

It allows me to consider the equipment to be custom made.

The truck, for example, has a motor from a ’69 van and a transmission from a ’72 El Camino. I got the drive yoke from a ’65 GMC. I lose track of how many different vehicles the tires have been on. The battery has seen service in the tractor, both trucks, a Volkswagen and B*’s Toyota.

The greenhouse is made of plastic water pipe.

The packing shed was a garage before we moved it.

I could go on and on. Malleability. Adaptability. Those are the themes for today. Universal application of any part or skill that at first glance may appear specialized. It’s kind of like, well, evolution.

The disk harrow is operational again because it’s not picky about what gets bolted to it. It can accept anything and make it work.

I like to think that I work like that but really I don’t. I get my heart set on things being a certain way and I can’t adjust when things are different from what I expect. The difference between getting back to work and being consigned to a scrap heap seems to often be the ability to accept things for what they are. It’s so obvious that it doesn’t need to be spoken when I have a wrench in my hand, but is so elusive and hidden in other aspects. It’s hard to accept. The hardest thing to accept is that my disk harrow is smarter than me.


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