I find it amazing how complicated and drawn out I can make even the simplest of tasks.
This morning I decided that I finally was done with two tires that had slow leaks. One was on the box blade and one on my UTV. I had been making do with both; the UTV was good for at least two days and then needed air, and the box blade was good for an hour, maybe two.
The string of nice, sunny and, most importantly, dry days made it so I could do some maintenance on the driveways and paths that have gotten rutted up during the winter. Some of them were close to bottoming out my pickup and UTV. A couple of hours and I could have them fixed, and we had several dry days forecasted and everything should be able to heal up a little. A simple task, right?
Nothing is simple in my world.
So back to the tires — I am also about to go out of town for a few days, leaving Jennifer with chores, and I wanted to make things as easy as possible. That included not needing to worry about airing up the UTV tire.
I also wanted to fix the ruts and not have to worry about the tire on the blade while I was doing that, so I thought I should kill two birds with one stone and get the tires fixed. A novel idea, I believe is what my wife said.
I bet I am not alone when it comes to dealing with slow leaks instead of taking tires off and fixing them. It is for good reason, too — often it takes as long to get them fixed as it does to just deal with them.
So back to my tire problems. I decided to start with the blade. The tire is easy to get to and should not have been hard to take off.
Apparently, it had been a while since the tire had been taken off. The lug nuts were rusty and required a lot of penetrating oil and down pressure. Fortunately, I have plenty of both. Unfortunately, the tire was off the ground and only wanted to turn. The easy solution was to start the tractor, put the wheels down and apply the correct amount of force.
That would have been easy if the tractor would have started. The battery was dead.
Luckily, the tractor was close enough that I could string electric cord out from the shop and bring the battery charger out. A few minutes of charging and the tractor started right up. I put the wheels down on the blade and went to work. The wheel still wanted to turn; I was going to have to air the tire up to be able to create enough down pressure. That required wheeling the air compressor out to the blade.
The tire was aired up and I applied down pressure to the rusty lug nuts. This was further proof that a diet was a bad idea for me because any less down pressure and I would not have broken the lug nuts loose. Each lug nut fought me the entire way off and it seemed like forever to get them loose.
Finally, the tire was off and on the back of the pickup. That only took an hour, and half the equipment and extension cords I owned. This is why I live with slow leaks on tires.
Thankfully, the tire came off the UTV much easier and quicker and I made my way to town. When the guy at the tire shop looked at the tire from the blade, he laughed and said he hoped that one would hold air because he hadn’t seen that size in over 20 years. Oh, and by the way, the guys in the back were overwhelmed with tires and it was going to be a couple of hours, at least, before they could get to mine.
So, let me review things for you. I could have spent 10 minutes airing tires up and gotten what I needed to do done. Instead, I spent two hours to find out I needed to wait another two hours, at least, to put the tire back on and get to what I needed to get done. A two-hour job was now up to six hours and counting, and it did not look like I would even get to start working on the ruts today.
I know that it will all pay off in the long-term, when I don’t have to worry about remembering to air both tires or worse, have a flat in a bad place and must change it there. However, in the short-term, it seemed like just putting air in either tire would have been a much faster solution. But, then again, who knows how long it might have taken me to do something simple like put air in a tire.
Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.