Working on Big Blue


     We use a PTO driven three-point mounted chipper mounted on our Fordson Major tractor to transform branches and brush into wood chips. We generated some 6,000 gallons of chips last year, and before we get back into serious chipping this year, it was time to rotate the blades. The blades that do the actual cutting become dull over time, but they're sharpened on both their front and back sides, so the cutting action can be renewed by disassembling the chipper, reversing the blades, and bolting the assembly back together.

Note: PTO stands for Power-Take-Off which is a driven shaft that comes out of the back end of a tractor--it's used to provide power to equipment such as a baler or manure spreader. A three-point hitch is a hydraulicly driven mounting system that can be used to control the height of a piece of equipment attached to a tractor. Some pieces of equipment, such as a rake, can just be drug behind a tractor; a three-point hitch is better because it allows an operator to position a piece of equipment, such as a plow, at a precise height. In the case of the chipper, the three-point hitch allows us to lift the chipper off the ground while traveling from one location to the next.


     In the above pic, the three points of the three-point hitch are numbered for clarity. Points 2 and 3 do the heavy lifting, and point 1 is a turnbuckle link that can be adjusted shorter or longer by rotating the red center tube. The PTO drive shaft is the black shaft in the center with yellow safety shrouds on each end. That arrangement makes it just a few minutes' work to mount the chipper on the tractor.

     Rather than just doing the minimum necessary to get old Blue back into service, we took time to top off the various fluids and to do some repair work. For a long time, the fuel tap had been leaking ever so slightly; not good for a variety of reasons. When we finished using the tractor, we'd shut off the fuel tap, which did prevent the lost of fuel, but the leak would allow air to enter the fuel line. As a result, we had to bleed that air out of the fuel line at the main filter before the tractor would run because any air in the fuel line will prevent the fuel injectors from being able to function.

     I often feel that the Internet is a real partner in our work here; in this case the Internet enabled us to track down a new fuel tap for a forty year old piece of British built farm equipment.


     The fuel tap screws into the bottom of the fuel tank, and incorporates an initial filter. There's a larger, more sophisticated filter between the tap and the fuel injectors, but since minimizing wear on the fuel injectors is critical to extending the life of the machine, lots of filtering is a good thing.

     We ordered a new fuel tap from Import Tractor Parts and were pleased with the service and the new part.


     Installing the new fuel tap was straightforward, and after draining the fuel line one more time, old Blue cranked right up ready to be off chipping again.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71