Friday, April 9, 2010

The Tractor Arrives...

The last two days I've been a road jockey in a truck with a bench seat designed by spine surgeons to increase their business. I planned to collect both the 5 ton Gatormade trailer and the Kubota tractor on the same trip by driving a triangle of sorts. Unfortunately getting the trailer took far longer than I expected due to two complications. The first was the lights and brake hook-up on our truck was "tractor-trailer" standard, not light pick-up standard. If we'd told Gatormade they could have had it wired ahead of time, but we didn't. The trailer dealer and I spent an hour or so swapping out the plug that came from the factory for one that he kindly donated to the cause of me getting home without a traffic ticket. It seems that using standard colors for wiring trailers is most decidedly not en vogue. Selling trailers is a sideline business for this guy, whose main deal is mechanical fabrication of all manner of metal contraptions. Anyway, we parked the trailer out in front of his shop and poured over two dated, torn, and not entirely trustworthy wiring diagrams. The one that went to the plug we were removing had his pencil notes for which color wire belonged to each trailer component (turn signal, brake lights, brakes, etc), and didn't match the "standard" printed there. Two of the six colors were just plain absent... Eventually we managed to figure the whole mess out and wired up the new plug. There were enough times where he tried to put the wire in the wrong spot on the core or had the core turned around backwards that his "I know the red wire is for brakes" rang a bit hollow on my ear. I had no better recommendations though so I figured I'd better just let him be sure about it. Also, my confidence declined a bit due to his repeated reference to me as "old boy" and us as "the wire doctors". Somehow though we managed to muddle through. Between the two of us, the indications on the core, the old wiring diagrams, and the circuit tester we figured it out on our first time through the wiring. It was a minor miracle for sure.
Then right at the end he asked if the "brake controller" lit up. We soon discovered our truck doesn't have a brake controller. It must have been removed by the previous owner. At least it was wired to recieve one though. I stopped in Elmira on my way back to buy one, but by the time I did that and muddled around seeing if I could install it quickly (I couldn't), it was too late to get to Honesdale, PA where our tractor waited.
This morning I wired in the brake controller and then set off for Penn's Woods to the south. I was grateful that the tractor collection went more smoothly than the trailer did yesterday. I had no hang-ups at all. The truck towed beautifully and the trailer rode smoothly with nearly 3 tons of tractor filling its bay. I did find myself feeling queasy for a few minutes shortly after setting off with the loaded trailer. I eventually figured out the truck was sloshing slightly on the road from the extra weight behind it (though it never felt dangerous like the trailer was pushing it around). The feeling passed and I made it home uneventfully. Here is a photo of the fully loaded rig upon arrival.


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