Posted 4/21/2021 14:51 (#8965435) Subject: Tractors that I have known - the Farmall F-20
Cumberland County, TN
As a teenager, I was helping our neighbors one summer day with the plowing of their wheat stubble field. We had stopped for some eats at about noon and went back out to the old F-20, where we’d parked it in the shade of an adjacent grove of ash trees. My buddy, Freddy, took the crank off of the side of the frame and walked around to the front of the tractor, where he inserted it into the engine dogs. He yelled up at me… “Set the gas just a crack this time! And make sure you got that spark retarded all the way!”
“Okay, it’s set.”
“When she fires, be ready to get that retard off! I’m’a gonna’ pull’er through. Get ready!”
Freddy pulled the engine through one stroke and the engine coughed and bucked back with a belch of blue smoke out of the stack. He dropped the crank and twirled around a couple if times, holding his arm with his other hand.
“You sure you got the spark all the way retarded? Okay, lem’me get up there and YOU crank it. My arm’sa gettin' sore.”
About that time, Freddy’s older brother, Doug, came walking out. “Hey? What’chu dumb-butts doin’? Let me show you how to get’er started!”
So Doug picked up the crank off of the ground and inserted it once again. “Crack that gas just a little an’ pull that retard lever all the way down an get ready for when she catches!”
“It IS. It’s already set!”
“Get back an’ le’me see a’fore I take a’hold a that crank!”
Doug took hold of the crank handle and swung it through. The engine coughed and let out a “BOOOM” and the crank bucked back and lunged out of Doug’s grasp and then HE did the F-20 dance around the side of tractor, holding his arm.
After a few more minutes he recovered and said, “Okay let’s try it AGAIN… an’ this time be ready!”
When he swung it through, the engine fired and ‘took’ and it was running. Freddy shoved the retard lever up and blasts of exhaust blew straight up out of the stack with a resonating rumble.
“Get BACK! Get OUT’TA the WAY! The CRANK’S STUCK!!!”
I looked over and sure enough, the crank was still stuck in the engine dogs and it was spinning so fast that I couldn’t see the handle!
While we scattered and ran for cover, it came loose and this time it went STRAIGHT UP! We watched in surprise as it disappeared up through the trees and we could hear the leaves and branches being torn apart as it was going up.
I don’t know if it came back down or not. It might have landed in the creek or it might still be stuck in the fork of some old tree. They had to go to town and buy another crank before they could disc the field down. Someday, there might be some guy wondering why there’s a hand-crank hanging up in his tree and who would’a put it there.
One thing about an F-20 is that you never want to relax your left leg while you’re plowing. If you hit a rock big enough to stop the plow, you’d better get that clutch down while the front wheels are coming up or you’ll be on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.