In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Things Your Daddy Taught You
Mar 24, 2009
Growing up around farm equipment has made many of us blind to the free education we received. It's only when we spend time around folks who didn't grow up working around and on machinery that we appreciate the basic mechanical knowledge we take for granted. Here are a few true stories about non-farm folks who came to farm equipment dealerships trying to get parts for lawn mowers and other mechanical gadgets:
A parts person sold an air filter for a small tractor to a city dweller
-A well-dressed man wanted a new battery for his riding lawn mower. When the parts person placed the correct battery on the counter, the man firmly stated that it was the wrong battery because, "on my battery, the terminals were on the back side." The parts man thought for a moment, then took the battery to the back room, waited a few minutes, then carried the same battery back up front and placed it on the counter with the terminals facing away from the customer. The customer left, satisfied.
who had purchased an acreage and wanted to be a "farmer." The wanna-be farmer soon returned and complained loudly that the parts man had given him the wrong filter, because the tractor wouldn’t run after the filter was installed. When the parts person removed the plastic bag that the filter came in to see what could be wrong, the customer got a funny look on his face, grabbed the unbagged filter and disappeared out the door.
-Riding lawn mowers are nightmares for parts people. There are hundreds of models that each require unique belts, sizes and lengths. Mechanically-challenged customers routinely don't know the model or serial number of their mower, and frequently insist that the parts person simply give them a belt because, "all the belts are basically the same." One savvy parts man keeps the separator drive belt from his manufacturer's largest combine underneath the parts counter, and when he gets the familiar statement, "All belts are basically the same.." he hoists that monster belt onto the counter and says, "That'll be $180. Cash or charge?"
-An urban customer sent his wife to a dealership to get a major drive belt for the belly mower on his utility tractor. The parts man gave the wife the correct belt, but within an hour the man himself came storming through the door. "You gave my wife three short belts, and I needed one big, long belt," he complained. The frustrated parts man checked the part number printed on the belt to confirm that the belt was correct, then uncoiled the looped belt and began to measure it. The customer stared at the uncoiled belt, grabbed the belt and headed out the door without another word.
Never underestimate the wealth of mechanical knowledge that you have acquired simply by being a farmer. Things that you do without a second thought, repairs that you make routinely, even the simple knowledge that, "right is tight, left is loose" are mysteries to many folks who didn't have the blessing of growing up on a farm.