Friday, 24 May 2013

Look who's driving a tractor! (Week 7, Friday)

And, finally, this was the day I had been waiting for for nearly 2 months: I was thought how to drive a tractor!

Despite sitting in a pool of water that the waterproofs did not manage to keep out, this was really really enjoyable and I was so impressed how maneuverable it is, much more agile than a car, and no comparison with a Gator which is rather stiff.

Without a trailer, it is dead easy to drive around. With a trailer, reversing is a bit more complicated, as you have to turn the wheel the opposite way to where you want the trailer to go - will need practice on that.

Fuel filter
Fan belt
Air cleaner
To start with, I was run through some safety instructions and made aware of the 10 mph speed limit in the gardens, for the safety and comfort of visitors.

Then I got a quick look inside the bonnet (luckily we have a mechanic on site, so we have help at hand when needed, but I found the tractor manual online), before I was finally taught how to adjust the seating (if you are not sitting straight and square the engine turns off, for safety) and drive off:
  • turning on the diesel engine
  • turning up the revs
  • using the range gear
  • accelerating (speed control pedal forward) and reversing (speed control pedal backwards)
  • Range gear
  • using the brake pedal and handbreak.

Driving console
My instructor asked me to take a few rounds around the yard, doing the odd safety stop (engine off and all) before teaching me how to attach the trailer:

Trailer brake

  • reversing to align to the trailer
  • safely firming the trailer pin
  • lifting trailer jack stand completely so it's out of the way
  • releasing brake
  • attaching hydraulic pump

Hydraulic pump lever

Finally I was taught how to tip the trailer, and, the complicated stuff: how to reverse!

It was hard work, but at the end, both instructor and instructed seemed pleased. 

It was suggested I take a tractor on another rainy day when it's not needed and practice before the gardens' opening time, which I will be delighted to do. Some rain please...

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