Posted by & filed under Farm Equipment.

I keep getting this same question about troubleshooting garden equipment.  Whether large or smaller motorized or electrical equipment, I have found a simple way to troubleshoot gardening equipment.

Why Would You Want To Use Old Farm Equipment?

So I have come up with an acronym that I have been using for decades.  It is S.O.A.R, or Seek, Observe, Act and Reap.   Whenever I have been asked to “fix” something, I do the following.


  • What is its purpose
  • How do I think it works?
  • Do they have a manual
  • Can I call the manufacturer or find it online?


Once I know what it is supposed to do, and how I think it works, it is time to find out how it really works.

  • Do I have one that works?
  • Do I need a manual, or can I just take it apart and see how it is built.
  • Can I get spare parts
  • Does it make sense to repair this item, or should it be replaced

So I am observing how it works or doesn’t work.  Then I am looking for manuals or information about this equipment.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what the equipment is, you can look at everything in this way to get it working again properly.

What do you want to learn from observing and asking how it should work when it is working properly.

  • Is this equipment worth repairing?
  • Would it be more cost effective to purchase a new one of better quality?
  • Can it really be rebuilt or repaired?
  • Can we purchase a used one for less money?
  • Is it a unique piece of equipment modified for the owner?
  • Accept the situation and be creative in repairs and options

Now that I have observed and discovered the answers in the observation phase of troubleshooting, it is time to act.


  • Depending upon the equipment, take it apart and discover what failed
  • Purchase replacement parts if cost effective
  • Repair the defective parts by making them yourself.  If the equipment is older and very effective, you can also have someone else make the parts for you, or buy them used.

In 1990 we were living on a private island.   The road grading tractor was a 1958 for tractor.  It has a small 4 cylinder engine and a 3 speed manual transmission.  It was a common tractor and usable by the homeowners.   One day, as I was backing it out of the shop, the transmission would not shift out of reverse.  The clutch worked fine but I could not shift it into first or second gear.

When I finally was able to get the tractor to neutral, I found that the tractor would not shift.  I got some help and we pushed the tractor back into the shop. I removed the gear shift from the top of the transmission.  I quickly discovered that there was parts of the transmission gears stuck in the shift lever.

The solution was to split the tractor in half, and take the broken gears out.  I then found a couple of places that had the replacements at a reasonable price.

I replace the gears, tested them and put the tractor back together.  It works fine even today.  We spent about $250 to repair the tractor.  If we had sent it to the shop off the island, it would have cost $300 for the barge to get it to the mainland.  So for that it was a great deal for the homeowners association.


Reap what you sow.  By sowing the seeds of good maintenance, you reap items that last longer

By learning about what you own and keeping records, you can discover trends and how long certain things last.  The more information you have the better!

If you are unsure about equipment, learn all you can about your equipment. Find a good mechanic shop that will listen to your concerns.  Be wise about spending your money, purchase quality products and keep them maintained meticulously.

An Eagle keeps its feathers in good condition so that it may SOAR high above the earth.  You can keep your equipment in good condition and SOAR in your garden and farm.

Food4wealth is a great way to learn about growing an organic garden without all of the hard work.

Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs, the Caretaker

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on