Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Velocity Stacks and Garden Tractors

I experienced the unexpected thrill this weekend of a garden tractor pull in Shipshewana, heart of Indiana Amish country. While there were of course no Amish entrants in the event, the gray-hatted boys seemed quite interested, gathering around the machines as they prepared for their run in front of the adjustable weight.

Thrill might be a bit of an exaggeration; tractor pulls in general usually attract a very specific audience... That said, large tractor pulls are certainly a bit more exciting with a lot more power accompanied by massive wheelies, but my appreciation of small engine tuning was well rewarded with velocity stacks galore, massive carburators, and homemade exhaust systems--even if they were all four-stroke.

While most of the smaller tractors retained there starters, all of the more powerful machines required this interesting dolly mounted starter. Since tractor engines are longitudinally mounted this device was simply wheeled up next to the tractor and a belt run from the electric motor mounted at the top of the dolly. The car battery at the foot of the dolly kicks over the started and the tractor fires to life, while the belt slips harmlessly off.