News from Vermont #373 Once A Greaser, Always A Greaser
December 27, 2016Hello again Maple People,Greasing. That’s what my friend Bill says I should write about so that’s just what I’ll do, and he should know because he owns a small farm and a tractor. Being brought up on a farm, I know there’s always about as many pieces of machinery hangin’ around as there are cows to milk and each farmer has his own system of filin’ ’em away for winter. Yup, there’s the codger who leaves his equipment right at the end of the last windrow hayed till the next summer season and the farmer maintainer who scrapes, paints and, yes, greases every machine and then puts it away in a barn or storage shed. It takes all types, men or machinery.
I just thought this picture might be better than showing a picture of grease.First of all, greasing starts with the nastiest of appliances ever contrived, a hand-held device called a grease gun. A grease gun’s a tool that lends itself to many a frustrated farmer oft using the words, “not worth the powder t’blow it up” (Speaking of powder, they even referred to a certain WWII era sub-machine gun as a “grease gun”). First of all, the greaser/farmer has to “pack” one of the things with, what else?…grease; thick, dark,slimy, impossible to remove from clothing and bane to any erstwhile healthy marriage. And the packing, even with modern cardboard-wrapped “grease cartridges”, never is completed without the packer getting well-greased. The next battle is getting the cussed thing to pump grease: the inventors of the modern grease gun, it seems, also wrote the manual on aerobic exercise because, most times, the greaser/farmer pumps the grease gun ad infinitum with nothing coming out of the nozzle…yup, the dreaded “air lock” attacks once again. Air lock…that terrible farmer-haunting physical property, roughly defined as: “the flowing of liquid downhill, except when it doesn’t”.Then when finally, at last, the gun primes and grease comes out the right place, there are tiny orifices placed all over our farm machines called “grease fittings”. Grease fittings are small “nipples” which mate with the business end of the grease gun, and accept and disperse the lubricant to strategic points. Roughly half of them don’t connect to the grease gun hose, won’t accept grease, or need to be tweaked or replaced. The other half are physically impossible to reach by any possible pretzel-like contortion of the farmer/greaser; hence, every machine stands as potential victim of excessive wear and tear from the lack of lubrication despite the best efforts made by the grease-covered equipment owner.My friend Bill lives on a quintessential Vermont hilltop and has one of the best, most panoramic views in the world. It’s absolutely beautiful up there, but he does, indeed, have a price to pay: his long and winding driveway is also steep and nearly impossible for winter navigation…a fact that requires a tractor with ice-busting chains and an engine that’ll start in any temperature. Bill’s trusty John Deere is up to the job but needs lots of TLC. As I’ve said, he recently suggested that I write about greasing, generated by, I assume, some harrowing experience like the following: he wakes up early, ready to take on the job of greasing good ol’ Johnny. By noon, he’s frustrated. By late afternoon, he’s throwing wrenches all around the garage. By evening, he’s begging his wife Diane for a new grease gun for Christmas. Sorry to be a Grinch Bill, but new ones don’t work any better so I suggest you “grease” someone’s palms and hire the job out.