My Oliver 550 needed a little work. Not only was it missing horribly on cylinder #2, it didn’t have any oil pressure. Oil is the stuff that keeps the metal from touching metal…preventing the engine from wearing out. “Missing” means that the four-cylinder engine was running at 75% capacity. And it sounded bad. And I had gas in my oil…you know, the stuff that’s supposed to protect my engine. That’s not a good thing.
Fearing the worst I took my tractor to a local machine shop, asking him for a worst-case estimate. He said if it needed an overhaul it would be $2,500. I only paid $3,000 for the tractor to begin with and there is another in better shape on CL right now for $4,500. So, now what. At what point do you pull the plug? When do you send your equipment off to become scrap and parts? What happens when I get worn out?!?!?
Three weeks later it turns out that the top end of the engine looked fine. The shop put in new rod and main bearings, rebuilt the oil pump, replaced the relief valve and are sending it home. All for much less than the worst-case scenario. This is work I probably could do. But there’s only so much I can do. It’s not the best use of my time to wrench on my tractor. Heck, it’s not the best use of my time to move a chicken tractor either. I’ve written about this before.
My tractor came home. We mowed a little bit with it to get ready for grandma’s funeral. I used it to pull some logs and move a few things and …guess what! It died. I can’t even get it started. I haven’t determined if this new problem is a fuel issue or an electrical issue. It’s just dead. I’m hoping it’s something simple this time.
At what point do you decide it’s not worth repairing? Is it better to have a payment on a depreciating tractor that probably will work or no payment on a depreciated tractor that may or may not work? We are really working to embrace option #3: no tractor at all.