I was working on my grandfather’s tractor over the Fourth of July weekend, and I was once again struck by the brute simplicity of the machine. The engine block and frame are the same casting. The carburetor is a leaky single-barrel updraft, feeding a thirty-pound cast-iron intake manifold. The manual transmission has no synchros, making an unholy racket every time you change gears. The front wheels are so close together that it’s basically a three-ton tricycle. The steering has about twenty degrees of play.
And I enjoy the heck out of that thing. So it was designed with a crayon to be assembled with a hammer; after over sixty years in service, it’s still running. After months of working with electronic spark and multi-point fuel-injected engines, it’s very satisfying to get back to something as solid and straightforward as that old Farmall. It’s from an age where problems were solved by throwing lots of iron at them, and has something our modern marvels lack. What do you think, folks? Fuel injection and aluminum blocks, or updraft carbs and iron intake manifolds?
(Thanks to Flickr user kretyen for this great CC-licensed photo.)