Sharpening the blades

It was a gamble, and we knew it from the start.

We’ve been using a weed-whacker (a string-trimmer) for clearing paths and trails, and for “mowing” the garden/orchard area. It’s a long, slow process–longer and slower as we’ve expanded the trails and planting areas. Rick has said for some time that he’d like a brush hog, aka rotary cutter. He wanted something ‘beefy’ to handle some of the more challenging trail work in the forest. 

But those things are expensive! And, frankly, they don’t make them like they used to. A new one runs upward of three thousand–for anything sturdy, much more. So we looked for one used–but not abused. That’s a critical issue, because, by definition this is no mere mower. It’s designed for heavy use.

But in my search I saw a good many of them that were rusted out, or clearly limping on their last legs–and even then they were pricey. Sigh. 

Recently an old John Deere popped up on Facebook’s Marketplace. Old, as in, as old as me. Those early implements were built to last! (As was I.) But there was a problem–the ad indicated that it needed a new clutch–but it was being sold with all the needed parts. So that was the gamble–someone had a geezer brush hog–and didn’t have the savvy, or strength to fix it. Were we (that’s an editorial ‘we’) up to fixing it?

We drove to Gaylord to check it out–and sturdy it was. Indeed, Rick’s comment, under his breath, was, “It’s a beast!” We’ve seen so many that were bent, rusted and crumpled. This one must be made of quarter inch steel. The kid selling it, showed us what was wrong and shook his head. It was too much for him–the old implement was too hard to disassemble–the parts took too long to get. He’d just bitten the bullet and ordered a new one.

I looked at Rick. I could tell that he was intrigued by the challenge. It was more than just a mechanical issue–it was the fact that this vintage implement needed to be rescued. 

“It’s a gamble,” I said. “If it can be fixed, it’s a steal at $500. Otherwise, it’s 1,200 pounds of expensive scrap.”

Just getting it loaded on the truck was a feat.

It’s taken him a couple of days, but I just heard the noises from the yard change. I looked out to see him sharpening the blades. That means the clutch is fixed, and the u-joint replaced–just like the kid said. 

The beast has been rescued, and maybe even tamed. I see clear trails in our future.

Introducing, “The Beast.”