Ahem. gather round ye peoples and listen to the tragic tail... tale of Gundalina the tractor's terrible betrayal, tragic fate and miraculous resurrection.
Now, it came upon a Wednesday clear that Barbs and I sallied fifth (or sixth) to go and get some firewood. The track onto the block being slippery let alone getting near the wood, I (and it was my fault alone, I bear this manfully (or at least without whinging too much) decided we'd use Gundalina the magnificent Mercedes tractor to trundle fifth into our jungly parts and carry out the wood. I offered to let Barbs drive as we went Gundalina-trundalina-ed around to pick up the chainsaw, earmuffs, safety glasses, gloves and whotnot-associated-with-chainsawing - everything from a spare chain to various tools and wedges. She retreated from this offer, but 200 yards of my driving was quite enough: she decided to try after all, and found great glee in driving the mighty roaring beastie.
Now, Gundalina has no brakes. She has a handbrake (which works quite well) and of course a hydraulic bucket, which is a very good brake. She also has an accelerator that you have alter throttle with a lever. You can put your foot down, but it doesn't deccelarate - you have to make it do so. Still, if you're calm, and sensible and use her gears and the terrain, she's a foine, foine wee beastie. To kill her engine, you have to throttle right down - she doesn't die if you turn the key off.
Barbs successfully came to a stop and I put Gundalina into one of her worm-crawl gears and pushed cautiously a track, humpty bump through to the fallen trees I wanted cut up. I put on the various accoutrements of safety and was soon wielding the chainsaw manfully (or at least doing a plausible imitation) and had a reasonable pile of logs. Barbs piled them into Gundalina's small tray - and then announced that she'd take the load down, if I would turn the tractor around.
This was, of course, easier said than done, but I did a magnificent 48 point turn in the confined quarters of a medium-sized dance floor (not a great turning circle, remember this.) playing do not run into any large trees - back or forth. Barbs drove away and I resumed my cutting - with the earmuffs designed to blank noise at over a certain level. It's so you don't hear the screaming... Keep in mind Gundalina is in first in gear, at one of the crawler speeds. A moderate walking speed for a bloke in a Zimmer-frame with a ball and chain, so not precisely a speed of great danger in which you have no time do anything.
I got on with cutting, in the earmuff-induced silence.
I look up to see Gundalina has returned, roaring at full throttle. Well, was, or so I am informed. I am in blissful silence. Why didn't I know about these earmuffs when I had young kids with broken volume controls? Barbara is shrieking, but I am unaware of this. Remember this is worm gear... not a place where anything happens fast...
Unless of course you take it OUT of gear. Then she'll ROLL faster (or stop if it is flat) Did I mention this spot wasn't flat? How very remiss of me. Anyway, being one of those perceptive sort of fellows (as well as delicate, modest and with BO rather like the scent of a rose - which by any other name would smell)I look up at the machine thundering down on me - and gather by the waving of hands that not all is well, put the chainsaw down (always a good idea) and remove ear-muffs to witness - amid the thunder of the diesel and plaintive yells of "Dave! DAVE!" lady Gundelina going up in the world. On her bucket...
Barbs, having for some reason decided that taking Gundalina out of gear on a downhill to stop was a good idea (the good idea fairy was active that day) had had her accelerate - as a heavy machine on a gentle downhill will. Panic had ensued and she had been unable to switch Gundalina off (which would have made no difference as Gundy was not in gear) forgetting she had to reduce the throttle by hand. She'd turned uphill (and would have stopped in about 5-10 yards in actual fact) had suddenly remembered I had said to put the bucket down as a brake. Only she went the wrong way, realized her error but grabbed the tip not the up and down lever. So facing the bucket straight down she then realized what was wrong and used the other lever - ending up on Gundalina standing on her bucket front wheels in the air... but stopped. By this time I'm on the stair and can remind her how to pull the throttle back and stall the tractor.
She then informed me that she was never going to play with my toys again, and she'd been yelling at me for ages... Heh. It's only the depth that changes.
But alas, poor Gundalina, she lay - or rather purched on her bucket, stricken in the field. Stricken in among the scrub, anyway. She had roared her last, defiant to the end... Ahem. Gundalina wouldn't start anyway. Made that ominous click that goes with a flat battery or a short.
I, in payment for my sins, and for wearing earmuffs, had to carry a heavy tractor battery (first port of call, troubleshooting) to the ute.
Fortunately, as fortune favors the stupid anyway, that was the problem. She is Gunda-gunda-ing again. It doesn't look like the alternator is charging the battery. This is fixable. Not sure about Barbs' nerves...