Where do you live?
I live in southern Worcester County, MA.
Story behind screen name (mikeinri)?
Ironically, I lived in MA when I picked that name, but I had lived in RI for most of my life, until we moved here 12 years ago. Sort of a take on Sleepless in Seattle (although I never saw that movie).
Are you married?
Yes, going on 13 years.
Do you have any children?
Yes, two boys aged 7 and 11.
Do you have any grandchildren?
Not yet, got married way too late in life. Hopefully someday, but I figure my boys will still be in college around the time most people retire, so who knows?
What do you do to earn a living?
My title says I’m an engineer in the biotech industry. My actual job duties make me more of a project manager or director. It’s not as fun as it sounds…
How old are you?
Not me personally. I grew up on the backside of the Vietnam War, and I’ll just say that I’m glad our country has learned from that, and that we now treat returning soldiers with an entirely different level of respect. My Dad was in the Army (volunteered for two tours in the Army Corps of Engineers in Vietnam, followed by something like 12 years in the Army National Guard). I also had two uncles who served in the Navy, one in the Air Force and one in the Marines (all Vietnam era). Both grandfathers served in the Navy, at least one during WWII. So it goes without saying, I have huge respect and thanks for all of those who have served.
How did you come to join MTF?
I’d been lurking for years, looking up info to fix stuff on my first tractor (Craftsman DLT3000). I think I eventually had a specific question to ask, that I couldn't find an answer for just by searching.
What are your favorite MTF forums and why?
I don’t think I have a favorite, but I have to say that some of the folks in the Small Engines and Repair section have an truly unbelievable amount of knowledge! I think I spend most of my time in Sears/Craftsman, Backyard Round Table, Lawn and Garden Tractor Accessories, Chain Saws and Tiller Talk. Also Trailers and The Weather Station on occasion.
What do you like most about MTF?
If absolutely floors me how patient and friendly people are, especially when solving complex issues (which can be a really hard thing to do well with written words, still pictures or even video). I’m also a member and/or observer on several other forums, and most are fine, but none are anywhere near as friendly as MTF.
Please list your tractors and/or equipment:
Well, it’s winter, so I’ll probably forget something, but I think this covers most of it:
2005 Craftsman GS6500, with Johnny Bucket Junior, and electric sleeve hitch (repowered by PO)
2003 Craftsman GT5000, with 46-inch snowblower (both need to be retired)
2002 Craftsman DLT3000, with 42-inch snowblower (both have been retired)
Trac Vac 385 tow-behind lawn vacuum (age unknown, repowered by PO)
Craftsman 10 cuft steel dump cart (OK, I have two of these)
Lawn Chief 17 cuft steel dump cart
Brinley box blade
Craftsman triple bagger (OK, I have three: 42-inch, 48-inch and 54-inch)
Craftsman front dethatcher
Craftsman tow-behind dethatcher (OK, I might have two of these)
Brinley tow-behind dethatcher
Brinley tow-behind core aerator
Agri-Fab tow-behind sweeper
2013 Honda HS1332TAS tracked snowblower
American CLS Logsplitter (technically, my In-Law’s, but it lives, and is used and maintained, here)
1996 Troy Bilt Horse PTO tiller with chipper/shredder attachment
1976 Troy Bilt Horse tiller (broken down for repower and mechanical restoration, on hiatus)
Murray push mower (was my Dad’s, he was throwing it out when he moved)
Craftsman push mower
Stihl Kombi power head, with string trimmer, mini cultivator and bed edger attachments
Troy Bilt TB475SS string trimmer, with mini tiller and brush cutter attachments
Echo PB751T backpack blower
Husqvarna 350 chainsaw
What is your favorite tractor or piece of equipment and why?
Seriously? Who can pick their favorite child??? Here’s my Top 5:
Honda HS1332TAS tracked snowblower: Completely unstoppable thanks to the tracks (my driveway is a hill that has stopped my tractors due to wheel slippage). Starts and runs like a Honda.
Craftsman GS6500, with Johnny Bucket Junior: Foot-controlled hydro, and a JB Jr!
Trac Vac 385 tow-behind lawn vacuum: Saves literally days of work during dethatching and leaf seasons.
Echo PB751T backpack blower: Starts and runs like a Honda (LOL). Will blow the paint off your house.
Dump Carts: Like a good shovel or bow rake, these are the unsung heroes of what we do. Even with the JB Jr, these things rarely sit without being used for more than a month or two at a time.
Is there a tractor or piece of equipment you'd love to own someday?
Bigger tractor with a FEL, huge snowblower and heated cab. A backhoe would also be nice. Honestly, something like a Terramite backhoe with a front-mounted snowblower and enclosed, heated cab, would be unbelievable.
Tell us some of the tasks you use your tractors and/or equipment for?
If I’m outside, it’s very likely that I’m using something on the list above, and usually, a tractor is involved. Obviously, lawn care (mowing, dethatching, aerating, leaf collection) and snow removal are probably the two most common ones. Others including moving firewood (and assorted other things such as tools, rocks, sticks, topsoil, plants, pallets, and a billion other things), pulling/moving stumps, garden care, and too many other things to mention.
Could you describe your property for us?
We have a single-family house, with an attached, two-car garage and a detached 12x24 shed.
Total acreage is just about 1.25, about 2/3 of which is cleared, the rest is wooded (mostly oak with a few maples and white pines mixed in). We’re on a cul-de-sac (fancy word for dead end), with no one across from us (drainage pond, which is almost always dry), and no one behind us (more woods behind ours), except for the new development that’s going in about 0.1 miles behind my property line. It’s very quiet and private here, but we’re also good friends with most of the neighbors (and friendly with all of them), so it’s not like living on an island. Since moving in, we’ve cleared enough of the backyard (originally had trees right up to the back deck) to plant a 30x30 foot garden, and give the boys a play area around a large swingset. We also have some fruit trees planted by the PO. We have a pear tree and an apple that do the best. We have two or three plums that need to be replaced.
Is there something you'd love to build or restore someday?
Not really. While I must be considered a hardcore member here (or I wouldn’t have been picked out of the crowd for this recognition), I’m probably not your typical member in lots of ways.
First, I sort of hate working in the yard now that I have kids. I’m too cheap to pay someone, but when I’m cutting the grass, or cutting firewood, or blowing snow, or just driving the tractor around, it’s most often time I can’t spend with the kids (for safety reasons). However, when I’m doing stuff that isn’t dangerous for them to be around, I love having them out there working with me. They help me pick up acorns and downed sticks from the trees, move firewood from the stack to the garage, and even help with planting the garden.
Second, while I’ve amassed a lot of knowledge and skill with turning wrenches and solving problems over the years (I started by helping my Dad and uncle fix cars when I was a kid), I don’t love doing this work, but tolerate it because it (usually) saves me time and money. I have zero bodywork or painting skills, so restoration really wouldn’t be my thing.
Most memorable tractor moment?
Wow, again too many. These are undoubtedly the two most memorable:
Burned my DLT3000 after getting too many leaves stuck under it, allowing the muffler to start a fire, which I couldn’t put out without the Fire Department’s help.
Got a rented Terramite stuck in a hole and nearly rolled it over, trying to use a rear tire as a giant tamper after pulling a big oak stump, but without putting enough backfill material into the hole first.
Why did you buy your first tractor?
When we bought our first house, it had a lot of lawn (neighbor did it for the elderly PO of the house, said it took him an hour to mow our lawn with a tractor), so we knew that we were definitely buying a tractor before mowing season. We actually moved into the house in November, and we quickly learned that we were in one of the heaviest snowbelt areas in RI. That first winter, we worked with two of our neighbors on every storm. We had shovels, the guy with the tractor had a plow, and the other guy had a large walk-behind blower. The guy with the plow always complained that the tractor was too small to move the snow back far enough (like here, we got tons of snow there, quite often over a foot per storm), and the guy with the blower always complained that it took too long to do the job with the blower. So, the lightbulb went on, and we bought the Craftsman DLT3000 and a 42-inch snowblower attachment (with a cab). That thing was the envy of every neighbor I’ve ever met at either house…
Earliest tractor memories?
When I was a kid (11 or 12), my Dad would take me with him to his friend’s house, who had a large (one plus acre) food garden on a 23-acre wooded property. He cut wood to heat the house, and we helped with firewood prep, as well as prepping and planting the garden, as well as some canning work. He had a large farm tractor (no idea what brand) with a FEL, which he used for everything from clearing snow, to spreading manure, etc. for the garden, as well as retrieving firewood that was processed in the woods. He also had a TB Horse tiller for working the garden.
Other than tractors and equipment, what other sections do you contribute to, and why?
Trailers is probably the primary one. Most times, I'm helping folks solve problems (typically with wiring), as I have owned boat trailers (see next question) for over 20 years, and a flatbed utility trailer since buying my first tractor around 15 years ago (originally purchased so I could take the tractor to my parents house to help them with leaf pickup).
I visit The Weather Station around big storms. The forecasting here is less than ideal (to be fair, it's probably one of the most challenging places to accurately predict the weather due to the effect of the ocean and other features on the storm tracks). It's always good to keep an eye on extra information.
Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you'd like to share with us?
Well, this is the real reason I’m atypical, LOL… I view the tractors and equipment as tools to speed up yard work, so I can enjoy everything else. My primary interest is sailing (racing sailboats and serving as a race official). Camping is a very close second. We have an RV that we originally purchased (pre-kids) as a regatta support vehicle. We also use it for family camping trips geared around playing in the woods, amusement parks and water slides (just as I was raised!). I also enjoy playing with the boys (especially sledding), and watching them play sports (although I’m not a very good spectator, I’d much rather be actively involved).
Do you belong to other forums?
I'm a member of "Snowblower Forums" and also two Ford forums (one for general Ford trucks, the other just for Explorers), which are incredibly helpful with my RV and truck. I also belong to a sailing-related forum (which I actually have stopped using recently due to an ownership change and eroding culture).
What do the other people in your life think of your "tractor" hobby?
My wife drops hints occasionally about getting rid of the “extra” stuff in the yard (“You don’t need two tractors, and you certainly can’t use more than one of those carts at a time!”).
My sister (also married with two kids) is just in amazement. She can’t believe the amount of stuff that I do have the boys help with (especially moving firewood), apparently her kids (14 and 9) do nothing like that outside.
While my BIL has a tractor, it’s a garage queen that gets all but polished after each use, and beyond putting gas into it and knowing how to start and run it to cut grass, I don’t think he’s capable (or at least not willing) to go near it with any sort of tools. But, he does borrow attachments from time to time, and is in amazement whenever I pick up something new!