Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

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Muddy Trauma and Mechanical Drama

February 12, 2011 by Yugen

Jim Lakey Rev. Jim Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

Muddy Trauma and Mechanical Drama

Tires. Chained to more tires. With tires on top.

Today we had Dave the mechanic round to attend to the long list of mechanical chores that need doing around the Center. Roshi's Subaru was disembowled, piece by piece in order to put in a new clutch. The motor is currently suspended by a cherry picker as we await the flywheel to return, resurfaced, ready to go back in with a new clutch kit. I ordered the kit last week and we were about to go and fetch it today from the post office when Roshi suddenly remembered that we in fact had a clutch kit from Subaru on top of one of the tool cabinets in the shop. It looks like it has been there for 4 years, gathering dust, saw dust and providing shelter for generations of small rodents. Despite it's forgotten and uncared for status, it is still good to go and will be going in to the car tomorrow along with new oil seals, various gaskets and hoses, and a new timing belt. The car has been leaking a huge amount of oil and upon inspection, it seemed like every single seal was leaking, so it is high time it got some attention. The other mechanical casualties as of now include the Toyota pickup which lost a tailpipe, the Dodge which won't start, the backhoe which lost a tooth and the flat bed truck which is in dire need of a new set of belts. I'm just thankful that we are not contending with snow at the same time...

The past couple of weeks have felt pretty chaotic. At the beginning of last week, I had big plans for getting on with road work. Now, at the end of this week, little progress has been made. It has been a case of one thing after another, and most of the things that have come after the other things either compounded the initial problem or created a whole new avenue of things that needed doing. In short, it has been a frustrating fortnight. The Dodge had a flat tire. I took it down to Hemet. Apparently it is an old fashioned type with a split rim which no-one will touch. Eventually, a recommendation is made to try a guy in Winchester, on the other side of Hemet, and sure enough, he can do it once he gets the inner tube ordered. So I leave it with him and return home. The next morning I spot a spare tire for the truck leaning against a wall. We are back in business. We take the Dodge and tractor down to our neighbours property to begin digging the trench to prevent water from coming on to our road. Everything is going pretty well, until we realize that the Dodge is stuck in a pretty marshy spot, where we just loaded it with some very heavy, wet soil. I take the tractor up to get a tow rope from the Center. I return, crossing the field which I have crossed a few times already. This time, the ground gives way and the tractor sinks in to the mud. Now we have two stuck vehicles. Luckily, the tractor is equipped with a hydraulic front loader and back hoe, so eventually, we are able to use these to pull the tractor out of the thick boot-sucking mud. The Dodge at this point will not shift with the tow rope connected between it and the tractor. We push off all the dirt to lighten the load and try again. Nothing. The wheels have dug right in and it is firmly stuck. In the end we have to lift it by the bumper with the tractor bucket and stick a bunch of wood underneath the tires to give it traction. It comes out, slowly and reluctantly. We are now in the middle of the afternoon and figure we can at least get started on the project that has until now been delayed by the stuck vehicles. We keep the truck on the road and load if from the other side of the fence to avoid getting it stuck again. After successfully shifting one load, the tractor drives over a patch of ground that looks firm and grassy, quite capable of holding it up as it already had done a number of times that day. The ground gives way again and we realize that basically the whole field in which we are working is swamp in varying degrees and we need to get the vehicles out and stay out until the summer sun dries it out. It takes us at least another hour of digging, maneuvering and pulling with the Dodge before we get the tractor unstuck. By the end of the day we return home, thoroughly defeated but at least with all the vehicles and no real damage.

Last week we make a drag for the tractor. We had a bunch of old tires lying down by the entrance way, so we connected them all up with some bolts and chain and voila! We have a drag. This was recommended by Dave, our mechanic, who services tractors and sees a lot of folks who maintain their own dirt roads. I decided to go ahead and build it as it was practically free, so not much of an investment if it didn't work. Sure enough, it does smooth out the road. It's not revolutionary - if you close your eyes, you run a higher risk of hitting a pot hole or a deer than mistakenly thinking that you are driving on blacktop, but for less than $50 of hardware, it will help us keep the road in check alongside our other tractor toys.

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