Friday, July 03, 2009

the tractor ordeal

retaining wall
Originally uploaded by daveterry.
This tractor caused us way too much trouble. It all started so quietly on a Friday evening while the neighbors ate their dinner.

The weekend project was to knock down the old retaining wall, clear some dirt, and begin the process of building it up again. But we'd have to earn our stripes before we got to that.

The plan was to off-load the tractor the night before. Jim arrived at 7:00pm.

When he arrived he first backed his rig up the 30 degree driveway incline, put it in park, and climbed into the tractor on the trailer, started it up and idled a bit.

When we drove the tractor off the trailer at the top of the driveway it upended the front of the trailer. Of course it was attached to the hitch on the truck. The hitch rose high in the air thus lifting the back wheels of the truck clean off the cement. This left only the front wheels on the pavement, which were not blocked. So they began to roll forward down the 30 degree incline.


Since the truck lost it's traction it began a long slide down the driveway with trailer in tow and Jim still in the tractor, which was idling on the back of the trailer.

It seemed forever and in slow motion as the whole rig slid down the hill. I thought about jumping into the cab but since the rear wheels were off the pavement, I wasn't convinced it would do any good. Besides, I had this image that when it reached the bottom of the drive, it would keel over onto it's side crushing the prickly bush and mailbox with me inside. It didn't seem like a wise move to me. So I watched motionless as Jim receded down the drive in the small cab of the tractor, on the trailer towed by the truck.

When the truck reached the bottom of the drive, it jackknifed, which wedged the trailer hitch on the ball and the tongue of the trailer under the bumper. The front edge of the trailer pined itself into the left rear tire. Jim was half standing, as if to jump, but it was too late for that so he sat back down to assess the damage.

We were in a jam because as the trailer scraped down the driveway, the tread ramps flipped up and locked the tractor onto the back end of the trailer. It couldn't go forward and it couldn't go backward. If we drove it backward it would most likely bend the axle of the truck since part of the trailer was sitting on the top edge of the wheel. Remember, this tractor weighs almost two tons.

The result of all of this was that the bumper was bent upward, which prevented the back door from opening. (It's a fully enclosed Tahoe truck) It also dented the left rear quarter panel and dinged the rear wheel rim.

What are we going to do now? This wan NOT a good beginning.

We fist let the air out of the left rear tire.

Next we removed the pins holding the ramps to the trailer.

Then we drove the tractor off the trailer, hooked the chain to the rear of the trailer and pulled the trailer off the wheel and partially back up the drive.

Finally we re-filled the tire with air, and drove the truck over the lawn into the street. (Jim later straightened the bumper using a tree and come-along.)

I didn't get much sketching done today.

If I can't be a good example I'll just be a horrible warning.