These huge tractors will leave an impression on you. What strikes me first, what hits my nostrils and the back of my throat is a kind of burnt smell. It reminds me of a horse being hot shod, all tangy and singed. The smell coats your skin too, a gritty sort of oily feeling.
It’s humongous. I stand off to the side watching it spin the long wide belts powering the thresh machine. And standing in the pilot’s box, it seems even bigger when you’re looking out at the power you’re standing inside of and controlling.
Throttled up, the vibration resounds through your bones.
You see the spouts dripping oil to lubricate, the pop and fizz of the governor. Tom explains to me how it all works, but it is loud and I have a hard time hearing him, even though I’m desperately focused on his words because I want to badly to run this beautiful machine. He’s shown me the throttle and clutch and how to shut the gas off, and then he steps down. I kind of panic that he is leaving me to run it when the thresh machine and all those guys are counting on the Rumley to do what they need it to do.
What if they signal me to stop it or need it to go faster and I can’t remember how? Terrible scenarios flood my mind-chaos and mayhem-belts flying off, bundles clogging up the thresh machine, the Rumley bolting forward out-of-control!
Then I take a breath. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Roger. He’s leaning an arm on the Rumley and I know it’s safe. He won’t let anything happen, will tell me what to do if it’s needed. Soon enough, Tom returns to stand by me and when the signal comes to power down, he reminds me what to do. I pull the clutch, but not enough. Tom pulls it back, throttles down and shuts the gas off.