Our truck engine decided to quit functioning after a decade of mostly trouble-free service hauling cattle and hogs to-and-fro. It wasn’t a surprise, or maybe it was. I’m still undecided and, as usual, stumped as to how my equipment always causes seasoned mechanics to cock their head to the side, frown and say, “Huh, never seen that before.” Maybe that’s because I went to a vocational technical school to become a mechanic and fix all the simple problems myself, or maybe I have equipment that always fails in exceptional ways. It’s nice to own exceptional things; unless, of course, the only way they are extraordinary is in how they die.
Similarly to how our Case 970 died without warning one day after more than 30 years of chugging along because the oil pickup tube inexplicably fell off the oil pump so our truck forgot to keep pumping oil to all its spinning bits. It isn’t unusual for an engine to quit pumping oil and lock up. For the engine to somehow lock up while parked after driving around fine the day before and then for it to start and run just fine after being hauled to the mechanic is unusual. The mechanic I took the truck to was my partner from school as there are precious few people I trust to work on things I could fix myself were time in greater supply.
Getting our truck to the repair shop my friend works at required buying my brother-in-law a case of beer or two to haul it because I only have one truck, and the likelihood of it pulling the flatbed trailer with itself on it wasn’t real great. We also were supposed to haul both cattle and hogs to the butcher shop a couple days after it died, so I borrowed my friend’s farm truck and bought more beer as well as a tank of diesel as thanks for the kindness.
Somehow, as I alluded to earlier, shortly after the truck got into the repair shop, my friend thought it would need a new engine. But, then it magically started right up after sitting in the shop overnight and had no oil pressure issues when tested. I went and picked it up happy I’d not need to ask another favor to borrow a friend’s truck to pick up beef from the butcher shop that day. Turns out there was something wrong with the truck, but it somehow made it the hour and a half round trip to pick up a trailer load of frozen beef only to die in a snowstorm a quarter mile from our farm. Luckily, Dad had a tractor going, the Case 970 I mentioned earlier, and towed me the last bit to the farm so we could unload the beef.
If it weren’t for friends and family, some weeks would really be tough to deal with or really expensive. Again, my brother-in-law helped me out and towed the truck back where it just came from. Again, I had to hit my friend up for use of his farm truck because of course beef and hogs needed to get to the butcher shop before the truck would be back. Also, it turns out my wife has a cousin that owns an auto salvage yard, and he helped me get an engine a lot quicker than a person usually could get one.
Some days it feels like if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have none at all. Despite how big a pain it was to be without a truck for the most part of a month, I got a great reminder how important friends and family are. Hopefully this article is enough to remind you of that. There’s no need to replace your vehicle’s engine in the near future. Until next time, keep living the dream, and don’t forget to check the oil.
    Tim Zweber farms with his wife Emily, their three children and his parents Jon and Lisa by Elko, Minnesota.