Several weeks ago, I was mowing a pasture field with the tractor and brush cutter. I was nearly done with what I felt comfortable doing in the section I was in, so when my husband drove up and offered to mow for a little while, I readily switched vehicles with him.
Shortly thereafter, I saw him walking down through the barnyard on his way to the house. I remember thinking he must have run out of fuel. Still, I met him in the yard, yelling “What’s wrong?” as I went.
“The back wheel fell off,” he replied.
This particular Ford – a 5000 model – has a set of rims on the back that are adjustable. The center of the rim and the outer circle are two separate pieces, and a system of bolts, nuts and brackets holds the two together. During routine maintenance, my husband checks to ensure they haven’t come loose, but despite the best prevention plans, things still break, and that is what happened here.
One of the bolts snapped, causing chain-reaction breakage of several more before he got the tractor parked. Fortunately, two bolts on opposing sides of the rim’s center held, so though the wheel was mostly off, the tractor didn’t pitch or roll.
I am doubly grateful for this, as I doubt the outcome would have been the same if I were still driving.
We removed the bolts and brackets and returned to the house. The following morning, we called and ordered replacements. We also took the brackets to a friend’s business to have the studs that fused themselves inside removed.
When we returned to work on the project a week or so later, we discovered we miscounted the number of pieces required and needed to order another part. After a few more days, we were ready to repair the wheel.
We used a small bottle jack to lift the tractor because of limited space in the necessary area. Once it was jacked up to capacity, we used blocks to prop it up, then let the jack down. A block was then added under the jack to give it several more inches of room to lift the wheel. This process was repeated several times over nearly an hour until the tire was able to return to its proper position.
Next, we used a pry bar to move the wheel center back and forth to line it up with the outer part of the rim. Then, one by one, we replaced the brackets and bolts. Finally, after much effort (and only a little yelling), the wheel was back on.
“I want to take it back to the garage to double-check everything,” my husband said.
Good plan, I thought. We certainly don’t want a repeat of this anytime soon.
So, onto the tractor he climbed, and he fired it up. He had not even moved an inch when the old Ford sputtered and stalled. He removed the fuel cap and peered down inside. Then he looked at me and started laughing.
I guess it was out of fuel after all.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.