ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

Clutch seems locked but looks like it's working fine.

Posted November 10, 2005

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Send it to Jeff at:

Dear Jeff,

I have a 600 Ford tractor that worked fine. I parked it for a week, and, when I next got on it, the clutch was locked. I can see it work in the inspection plate. It looks like it is working fine. Please give me a clue.

Ray Castle

Dear Ray,

I'm not a certified mechanic, and I can't tell from here if it is indeed a frozen clutch. But if you’re pretty sure that's the problem, this is what I would do. Jack the rear of the tractor off the ground and put it securely on blocks so the tires are off the ground and free to spin. Start the tractor and depress the clutch pedal (at this point, if the clutch is frozen, nothing happened and the tires are turning). Now, with the clutch still depressed, step down hard on the brakes to lock the rear wheels. This should snap the engine free from the clutch plates. If this doesn't work, you could try using a second tractor to "pull start" the one with the frozen clutch while you have the clutch pedal depressed. Keep in mind this method is not as safe, because the tractor may start and if you are in the wrong gear you could run into the lead tractor that is pulling you (so be prepared to turn off the engine quickly).

Hope this helps.

Good luck,

Have some questions to Ask Jeff? E-mail him directly at