Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

High Air Cleaner Stacks and Teen Age Misjudgment—Not a Good Mix

Hd5 CrawlerYou remember my post where I talked about my teenage lapse of judgment when I stuck the TD 14 crawler tractor in eighteen inches of mud? Well…another of my teenage judgment lapses came to mind this past week involving the HD 5 Allis-Chalmers crawler tractor(Little Alice)I mentioned in one of my earlier posts.

 Prior to the late 1960s, or maybe early ‘70s, farm tractors, and even automobiles, for that matter, came equipped with an oil bath air cleaner instead of the paper filters we see on autos and tractors today.  For the benefit of the younger set who are not familiar with oil bath air cleaners, they were just that; air cleaners that literally gave the air that entered the engine, an oil bath.  On automobiles and gasoline powered trucks, they consisted of a pan that sat on top of the carburetor containing about half an inch of oil.  Air was sucked through a screen and swirled around through the oil where the dust was filtered out and settled to the bottom of the pan.

 Farm tractors (and I believe, also, diesel powered trucks) were equipped with a large round canister to which this pan was attached.  The principle worked here the same as it did on the cars and gas powered trucks. Depending on the conditions, those oil bath filters on farm tractors needed to be serviced daily, or at least checked daily.  We would dump the oil from the pan, then use a little gasoline to soften the oil laden mud that had settled to the bottom. With the use of a putty knife or similar tool, we would scrape this mud from the pan, wipe it clean, fill it back up to the mark on the side with new oil and put it back on the tractor.

 Now Dad was a stickler for keeping the air that entered his tractor engines clean.  Not only did he rely on the oil bath system, but he also used two back-up systems; a cyclone pre-air cleaner and a very long stack on which perched this cyclone pre-cleaner.   It was a venturi of sorts, with a glass jar attached.  Air was pulled into this cyclone and swirled around. The dust from this pre-cleaning was deposited into the glass jar, after which, the air proceeded to the oil bath.  Some farmers attached this cyclone directly on top of the aforementioned oil bath canister.  Not Dad.  He had his on a stack reaching about seven feet above the tractor hood(it was all we could do to reach the jar on the cyclone to empty it). The theory being, it would be up out of the dust; which was a pretty good theory, actually.

 It’s this high stack that is the main theme of this little tale, and my subsequent lapse in judgement, if you will.  “Little Alice”needed some mechanical work done that required taking it to the shop in town.  This was to be my errand.  In those days, we didn’t use low-boy trailers for hauling these crawlers; we drove them from a loading ramp onto the regular farm truck, which put them about two and half to three feet higher up from the ground than would hauling them on a low-boy.

 The area where we normally hauled this tractor had no electricity.  Consequently, there were no high wires to worry about, so we never bothered to remove the extended air cleaner pipe when transporting this tractor between tracts of land.  This is where my teenage lapse of judgment comes into play.  I loaded the tractor and headed to town with the extended air cleaner pipe still attached—giving no thought whatsoever to the impending disaster which loomed ahead.

 I was cruising down one of the side streets in Soda Springs on my way to the shop when I felt a kind of jerk on the truck and heard this terrible crash and a clatter—I stopped the truck to see what was the matter.  To my horror, I saw the cyclone air cleaner, the long pipe, and the hood of the tractor (ripped the hood right off the tractor) lying on the street tangled up in some telephone cable. The base that held this extended pipe was welded to the hood.  I don’t recall whether Dad had to pay for repairing the telephone cable or not.  I do remember he was not too happy with me, however.

 In order to teach me a lesson, he said he was going to keep track of the bill for replacing the hood and and air cleaner, and dock it from my summer wages.  In the end, however, I think he relented.  One of his favorite sayings was:  “He who makes no mistakes accomplishes little.”  Then for effect, he would pause, and offer the caveat: “But on the other hand, he who makes to many mistakes looses his job.”

If you’d like to read more about the antics of a rather mischievous young boy, click on the free download button at upper right of this page and receive a free download of my book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures,   and read the exploits of young Buddy Crawford.  His misdeeds are without much forethought, however, they happen because Buddy is…well…he’s just Buddy.  Enjoy.

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