My old friend is being reborn

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Mr. Massey before

There’s a mountain of work to do at Cathedral Drive Farm in Hope Ness these days: weed between the rows, hill the potatoes, spread straw mulch everywhere possible to hold the moisture in the soil and keep the clay-loam soil from baking to hard-pan in the sun, mow the hay, take the wild barn cat his morning dish of milk, prep the downstairs bedroom for painting . . . on and on it goes.

But I’ve got it down pat now: I take a few minutes in the morning after the indispensable two cups of coffee to write the daily to-do list; and then I proceed to ignore it as I just “keep on keeping on” with one thing at a time, or two or three, until the sun begins to set. And then I think it’s about time to see what’s going on in the world and the blogosphere.

But first, this day I went over to “The Shop” to see how Brent was getting on with the restoration of Mr. Massey, my world-famous, and one-of-a-kind, Massey-Harris 22 tractor.

I thought he was a 1946, but I was wrong: Massey-Harris the predecessor of Massey-Ferguson, didn’t start making the 22 until 1948, and Mr. Massey was actually made in 1949. So that makes him 67, not 70. I stand corrected, and not for the first time.

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Mr. Massey on his way to “after”

Anyway, I almost cried when I saw my old friend stripped down to the bare essential, little more than the frame. I have to hand it to Brent, he got right to it. It was just last week I found the time to drive Mr. Massey over. The old, original, four-cylinder Continental gas engine was already lifted out. Brent, who seems to know everything there is to know about all things mechanical, was happy to be able to tell me he had checked the engine compression and all four cylinders were excellent, “like new,” he said, with wonder in his eyes.

That’s pretty amazing, I said, considering I managed to sink Mr. Massey in Lion’s Head Harbour. I could see from his reaction he hadn’t heard that story. So I told him the short version, about how I was backing a boat trailer and boat down the steep side of the boat ramp and I couldn’t manage to get Mr. Massey shifted back into first from reverse fast enough. He and the trailer and the boat sank out of sight in about 15-feet (five metres) of cold water.

“Was the engine running?” Brent asked, with an incredulous look.

“Yes it was.” I said.

Usually that will do some serious damage, he explained.

I told him how, after the scuba diver went down and hooked up the cable, John White pulled Mr. Massey out with his tow truck, and took him up to the garage to dry out for a few days. We changed the engine and gear oil, turned on the toggle switch, pushed his starter button, and the old tractor started right up.

“So, you can see why I’ve got this special relationship with ‘Mr. Massey’,” I said.

I added that when we get the new set of Massey-Harris decals, I’d like to get a special one made up that says, “Submersible.”

Brent wondered what I was going to do with Mr. Massey when the restoration job is finished. “Keep him more or less as a working showpiece and attraction at the farm, I guess,” I said.

Brent suggested I make sure he’s in the Lion’s Head, Canada Day parade. Great idea.

I think he’s enjoying himself – Brent, I mean; but maybe Mr. Massey as well.

Who knows? After all, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.”

He’s not just another item on the to-do list, my old friend, Mr. Massey. He’s special, and he’s getting done, and that’s a very good thing for him and me. Nothing like seeing an old friend getting a new lease on life to lift your spirits, if you ask me.

And nothing like keeping a promise.

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