John Deere Demolition Derby

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Today is January 19, 2017 with nearly perfect weather for this time of the year.  Our temperature here was in the lower 70s, plenty of sunshine with a very light breeze.

I had today ear marked to rake and mulch leaves with the John Deere X300 lawn tractor and melt several partial gallons of .38 caliber wad cutter lead bullets that I had since 1979.  I believe, I initially had about 400 pounds of the lead bullets collected from a DOC firing range (with permission) in Salemburg, NC.  Over the years, I cast them into lead fishing sinkers of various types; e.g., egg, teardrop, pyramid, etc. and have given most of them away to my fishing buddies.  I wanted to get rid of the partial gallon containers of the lead bullets that were stored on the basement woodworking shop floor being in the way and will have some clean lead spheres to store after the smelting operation.  The plastic containers were literally coming apart due to the age of them.  I do not see myself casting any into fishing sinkers anytime soon, but will probably either sell or trade the cleaned lead.

While getting the lead melted in an old black iron fish cooker pot over a propane gas burner, I raked leaves with a plastic leaf rake and herded the leaves into piles with the lawn tractor and rake. 

Everything was going pretty good until I got on the lower dirt/gravel drive way near my deer hanging White Oak tree nicknamed "Tom Dooley" in the pix above and drove the lawn tractor over the edge/crest of a serious drop off aka embankment which has a very steep incline being twenty six (26) feet measured to the small branch aka Culpepper Creek.

I tried to back the lawn tractor out but could not get any traction due to the steep angle and it was tilted to one side making it very dangerous.  I decided to chain the lawn tractor to a piece of 1/4 inch x 3 inches wide steel flat plate that I drove into the ground as an anchor.  If I had my truck, it would be a simple job to pull the lawn tractor out with the truck which is currently on loan to our youngest daughter as her only means of transportation at this time.  Our Buick Lucerne has plastic/fiberglass bumpers and not a good place to secure a chain to the axle without doing some damage and that was out of the question.

I used a couple heavy duty chains with hooks and a chain drive aluminum housing Coffing hoist aka come-a-long and pulled the lawn tractor out several feet and decided to see if I could back it out.  The lawn tractor was still secured to the steel anchor in the ground and fired the lawn tractor engine up.  Instead of hitting the reverse pedal, I depressed the forward pedal and it moved forward rapidly a few feet before I could think about applying the brakes and the lawn tractor came to an immediate stop against a couple small saplings down the embankment and I was thrown from the John Deere lawn tractor between the saplings like a medieval catapult. The next thing I knew, I was rolling down the steep brushy embankment and came to a stop at the bottom near the little creek and expecting the lawn tractor to come down the embankment as I did.  I did some fast scrambling while on all fours trying to get out of the direct path where the lawn tractor was at, of which I couldn't see the lawn tractor from my position at the little creek below being on all fours.  I might be a candidate for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC since I now have some airborne experience and definitely have the landing and rolling part down pretty good.....grin if you must!  The pix below doesn't really depict how steep and deep the embankment is due to the compression of the depth of field of the lens.  I might try and see if I can get a pix from the bottom of the creek to the upper level for a visual comparison.

The pix below gives a more realistic view of how steep the drop off from our yard is to the little creek bed below.  The fluorescent orange surveyors ribbon is in the upper right hand portion of the picture where the lawn tractor stopped with the right side of the deck wedged against several a couple small saplings about two to three inches in diameter.  That is a serious terrain change and acute slope:

Looking at where the Lawn Tractor stopped, I must have went airborne between the small saplings to the right of the lawn tractor because of where I eventually stopped at the edge of the creek bed.  I am not sure, but believe the heavy duty chain came loose attached to the lawn tractor rear end frame since the hole in the tractor frame would only allow a small portion of the hook to engage and didn't have a carabineer attached to make the proper safety connection.  I have a couple carabineers on my practice tree stand and hunting platform lifelines, but I didn't think that far ahead to utilize one of them.  When you sacrifice safety, Murphy's Law is never asleep!  I thought securing the lawn tractor with the chain would do the job, but it wasn't enough.  Again, I am thankful to our Lord Jesus Christ that I didn't get injured.  I will be sore tomorrow for sure, but that is better than broken bones and worse!   

The lawn tractor didn't like much before going down the embankment.

The lawn tractor has a gross weight of 575 pounds and could have done some serious bodily injury to yours truly since it took a second or two for me to scramble out of the direct path the lawn tractor might have taken.  A couple two to three inch diameter saplings was all that was needed to hang up on the lower deck to stop the lawn tractor from going down the embankment and the chain attached helped stop the forward motion of the lawn tractor as well.  Once I ejected from the seat, the safety seat interlock switch stopped the engine.

The chain drive come-a-long aka Coffing hoist has about a five (5) feet chain travel and had to reposition the hoist several times while I had another safety chain in place when I removed the slack on the Coffing hoist extend the chain back out for another pull.  The flat steel plate used as an anchor bent and used a 2 inch diameter steel threaded rod and drove it into the ground a foot or more and it definitely held secure.

Above, making some head way pulling the tractor off the edge of the embankment.

After winching the lawn tractor onto level safe ground, it was no trouble to back it out the rest of the way.

I finished blowing the leaves and did notice that the right front wheel bracket on the deck was bent at about a thirty (30) degree angle and will have to straighten it out; hopefully it will not break.

Used a large hammer and block of wood to do a deck wheel alignment job:


My number one Brother-in-Law, Douglas Pettigrew of Reidsville, NC was blowing out his high dollar four wheeler this past hunting season with his cap turned around backwards and ran into their pump house at a high rate of speed and did 4K worth of damage to his machine.  He was lucky he did not have any serious injuries as well.  My Sister SusieQ, definitely put a lot of "chin music" on him for acting like a teenager, driving the four wheeler in such a reckless manner.  I did some serious grinning on his accident and he will now get a chance to grin on my personal John Deer demolition derby début for sure.

The left front tire and suspension was bent inward and also canted, requiring a number of replacement parts and like I stated above, cost 4K dollars to get it repaired.

Our mutual friend, Robert Webster of Hamlet, NC had a field day giving myself some serious "chin music" for that accident and said he likes to have someone on his boat that knows how to operate it in case of a health incident, etc., but there was no way either Doug or myself was getting near the controls of his boat.....we all had to grin on that statement.

Robert did confess, that he backed a golf cart into Lake Tillery that belongs to the owner of the Family Camp Ground near the Swift Island Boat landing.  He stated it was a mechanical malfunction, however I like the song that Collin Raye sang, "That's my story and I am sticking to it" which adds an element of self-justification to it.  He had to winch it out using a come-a-long and told the owner about the incident.  I guess all of us has a turn at some kind of "fluke" accident, whether or not we make a huge contribution to its creation or not.


Below are some pixs of my lead smelting operation; a little multi-tasking going on:

I weighed one of the small lead spheres and it was about 8 pounds and have 18 of them.  The larger sphere in the melting pot weighed 21.5 pounds giving me a total weight of approximately 165 pounds plus or minus of melted lead.....that is a lot of potential fishing weights!

To summarize, when you jeopardize safety for a split second by not exercising common sense, an accident can and most of the time will happen.  It is no wonder that women out live men; they certainly do take less chances than us men folk....grin if you must! 

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 01-19-17 and updated on 01-20-17.


To reiterate, I am thankful that I wasn't hurt going down the steep embankment and give the Praise, Honor and Glory to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. 

Open this link, for Bible verses about God's protection; physical and spiritual.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be attained.   

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Open this link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King James Version Bible (KJV).

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”


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