e.t.

I can’t seem to remember much these days. Too many things bouncing around my head at any given time.

I don’t think I ever wrote about getting an old electric tractor this summer.

Did I?? Does that ring a bell???

Ron had gotten pretty frustrated by the noise of gas lawn mowers and lawn tractors. Summer is a lot less tranquil when mowers are running for much of the weekend. Our property is big enough that we really needed a riding mower (aka, tractor) to mow it in a semi-timely fashion. That’s true for most of our neighbors who have suburban/rural properties, generally 2+ acres. The sheep have sharply reduced how much we need to mow and how often, but the mower now essentially cleans up after we move them from one pasture to another.

Ron started looking into electric mowers as a less noisy (and less polluting) alternative. He ended up finding out about these “electric tractors” or “ElecTracs” that were made in the 1970s. Moreover, there are some obsessive fan clubs of folks (mostly men, of course) who love to tinker, repair, and promote “ElecTracs.” There’s actually a national “reunion” of ElecTrac users in our area.

Who knew!

We got an early 1970s ElecTrac this summer. It was in good shape, but needed a few little repairs. Fortunately, there is a really nice guy who knows everything about the machines who doesn’t live too far from us and was more than happy to respond to Ron’s email queries. Overall, Ron has been really pleased with the switch from the gas to electric mower. Too bad more of our neighbors didn’t follow suit…

ElecTrac is already an abbreviation, but I started calling it “ET” for obvious reasons. And now it is ET. ET even looks like the famous ET. The front of the tractor is very chunky and rectangular. It has a wider top and a smaller rectangle below. In other words, our ET’s front end looks like the famous ET’s head.

When Ron bought ET, he hoped he could turn it into a four-season machine. That’s the advantage of tractors versus solo mowers. It has a mowing deck. It also has a doo-da so you can pull a small cart behind it. But the real kicker was going to be if we could get it to plow the driveway in winter.

Rather, if Ron could get some sort of plow attached so Ron and ET could plow the driveway in winter…

Ron spent a bit of time in early winter (when it didn’t look like winter at all) figuring out how to hook up the old plow–the plow attachment from our gas mower–on ET. He devised some way of doing so. The real test came with the first snow–not that we’ve had any significant snow yet. Would it have enough power and would it be effective to clear the driveway in a reasonable amount of time?

Fortunately, there’s a happy end to the story. It works! The plow works great–period. In fact, in test driving the plow attachment before there was any snow, Ron smoothed out our driveway a bit. It had a bit of a “hump” in the middle and there was a bit of a bulge at the top of the driveway. He was able to use the plow as a basic plow (not snow plow) and smooth out the entire driveway, making it more even in both directions. And when the first snow came–granted, we’ve only had an inch or two a few times now–Ron plowed the driveway. He thinks it will be effective with up to about six inches of snow. More than that will create some additional challenge.

In the end, ET is the four-season tractor we had hoped for. It mows, it schlepps, it plows–and all by running on electricity. Now that we have solar panels, it’s green technology. The hitch is that we’ll need to keep this, ahem, middle aged, 40-something tractor going. It will inevitably need some repairs, fiddling, and such. But, for the moment (knock on wood), the benefits far outweigh the costs.

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One Response to e.t.

  1. Lisa Kozleski says:

    I loved this post and could just picture your awesome ET! So smart to make it have more than one purpose, too. Also love the discovery that it would smooth out the driveway. That might be helpful with other projects, I imagine.

    Thanks for the Monday morning treat. Love you guys.

    [Lethbridge College]Lisa Kozleski
    Senior writer and editor
    Lethbridge College
    Lisa.kozleski@lethbridgecollege.ca
    403-320-3202 X5778

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