Saturday, January 17, 2009

More snow, please

Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn't.

Today, it did.

Topping KintlaLake's good-fortune list was the early arrival of the replacement starter for our tractor. To my surprise, Priority Mail brought it here from Oregon in 40 hours -- which, in addition to being welcome, makes me wonder again why it took the USPS six days to deliver an air filter from Cincinnati.

Turning the shiny new piece over in my hands, I rotated the pinion and watched it climb toward the end of the armature shaft, exactly as it should. Since I'm not a mechanic and don't work on such things regularly, that personal "bench test" was the first real clue that my amateur diagnosis was on the mark (and that I'd spent my sixty-seven bucks wisely).

Handling ice-cold steel with ungloved hands didn't make my day, but the wrenchwork itself was as easy as could be: disconnect the battery, remove two hex nuts to drop the starter motor from its mount, and then remove another nut to free the power cable.

I set the old part aside, with the intention of rebuilding the gear assembly later. After reversing the process to install the new starter and giving the battery a healthy charge, I crossed my fingers and turned the key.


The ability to turn nine simple fasteners in both directions doesn't warrant chest-thumping, certainly. No, what has me smiling at the moment is a victory of thought -- troubleshooting an unfamiliar system, processing facts logically and arriving at a correct solution.

The experience reminded me that success often springs from the admission, "I don't know." The path to knowledge always begins with an acknowledgement of ignorance -- in fact, knowledge depends on ignorance.

So our humble tractor is back among the living. Now if only Nature would bring me some snow to plow -- just a little, maybe a couple of inches, would be fine.