Oliver Super 88 Versus Not-So-Super Man
(Page 3 of 10)
My mind was made up: I was going to buy this tractor, take it home, and restore it to like-new condition. Never mind that I had never restored an old tractor, or that I had never even turned a wrench on an Oliver and knew nothing of their inner workings. I had, after all, taken many rides on my Grandpa’s old Super 88, which made me uniquely qualified to undertake this project, right?
After about an hour of hemming and hawing, a price was agreed upon, hands were shaken, and I backed the flatbed trailer into place for loading my new prize.
Looking back, right then is when I should have jumped into my pickup and raced for home. But the thought never crossed my mind.
Once again, the tractor didn’t want to start, so it was given a boost. I decided to back the tractor onto the trailer so it would be easier to get it off at my dad’s farm. I worked the shifter into low reverse, and eased back towards the ramps. That’s as far as the tractor would go. The old tires would just spin. I tried again, but the worn-out rubber refused to grip the steel ramps. Switching to Plan B (as if there had been a Plan B), I backed the trailer up to a rise so that the tractor would have less of an incline to negotiate. No go, no matter how many times I tried. Finally, I backed the trailer up to a sharp slope at the side of a road, hoping to use the steep ground as a ramp to gain momentum. Sort of like Evel Knievel used when he jumped his motorcycle.
I shifted into high reverse, took a deep breath, gunned the engine, popped the clutch, and the tractor took off like the space shuttle! I hadn’t anticipated the speed with which the old tractor would hit the trailer, and I was nearly thrown off of the spring-less seat! At the same time, I was scrambling to find the clutch and brake pedals so I wouldn’t go careening into the back of my pickup! Somehow, I managed to regain control and bring the tractor to a halt just in the nick of time. I turned around to look over my shoulder, and instead of trailer, I saw only the bed of my pickup. I never once considered just how close to disaster I had come. Little did I know the worst was far from over.
I have a full-sized, two-wheel-drive pickup with a six-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. Although it had a heavy-duty trailer hitch, it did not have light or brake hookups for the trailer. By the time I had haggled down the price and gotten the tractor loaded and ready to go, the sun was beginning to set. I would have to drive home on the graveled back roads to avoid running into trouble with the law. I began to feel a little nervous.
My truck creaked and groaned as it struggled to pull away with the tractor-laden trailer, but it had no problem getting down the four or so miles of paved road before I had to hit the gravel. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad, after all. Or maybe it would…
The sun happened to set at precisely the same time I turned the rig onto the first of many miles of graveled roads. I turned my lights on, and quickly learned that the heavy trailer pushed down on the back of my truck so that my headlights were pointing skyward. As the evening grew blacker, so did my vision. Driving on unknown roads is always bit nerve-wracking, and doing it at night while essentially blind-folded is enough to make most men cry. But the worst was yet to come.
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