Americana: Tractor Pull

Our small town’s annual tractor pull is today. The wife and I were able to manage the 300-yard walk from our house with all the little ones in tow. As much as this is an event about internal combustion and power and noise–it is also a surprisingly green event.

There are usually Olivers (dark green) and John Deeres (you know what green that is) at this event–and this year is no exception. Of course, there are also a number of Allis-Chalmers, Minneapolis-Molines, Cockshutts, and McCormick Farmalls. Some of the tractors are beautifully restored–and some of them will simply be going home and back to work later today.

We left before the massively modified (read: environmentally heavy) tractors started. I’m sure I’ll hear the sound of it from here and may head back over, sans offspring, for a bit of the high-decibel battle. Once the track has really been torn up, a number of enterprising individuals will start pulling with their trucks–which often leads to equipment failures.

If you’ve never enjoyed a tractor pull, here are the basics. There is a sled which is essentially a special trailer and whole lot of weight on it and a large skid plate beneath the forward portion of the trailer. The tractor hooks on to the front of this sled and starts pulling. As the sled moves forward, hydraulics are used to move the weight forward of the rear axle and toward the skid plate. The bottom line is that the more distance covered equals greater downward pressure from the skid plate and more work for the tractor. Once the tractor can pull no further (or the end of the track is reached), the trailer is driven back to the start of the track for the next puller.

Here’s an image of one of today’s pullers in action.

As you can see, it is a beautiful summer day. May your day be as enjoyable as ours, wherever you may find yourself.

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