The bleeder screw on that fuel filter, with its little drip hanging like a jewel, was just begging to be tightened. Knowing full well that over-tightening could damage the o-ring and defeat the purpose, while ignoring the possibility that a damaged o-ring might just be the problem in the first place, I went ahead and put a wrench to it.
A damaged o-ring once brought down a space shuttle, and while tractors don’t generally explode, fuel leaks are to be avoided just the same. A tiny fraction of a turn to seat it better was all it needed so I began to apply pressure. Just a little at a time until I felt it begin to move. Then I torqued it a tiny bit more, ever so carefully, with great restraint of strength.
Slow, tight, metal on rubber resistance changed abruptly to knuckle on engine block resistance as the head of the bleeder screw sheared off, leaving its threaded shaft embedded flush without even a nubbin to grab onto. A thin ribbon of cold fuel spurted through the bleeder’s tube and ran across freshly scraped knuckles making them sting. My foot stomped, a wrench clanged and, if ever a lightning bolt were going to hit someone, that moment would have been poetic as one particularly artful blasphemy bounced off the barn wall and traveled several hundred yards into the woods where it startled a group of crows who were taking a break from harassing owls.
No lightning bolt struck, and the curses mellowed into growls and harrumphs. I sucked soothingly on the worst of my bloody knuckles and pondered for a moment. When I was done pondering, I knew that 1) the situation was manageable without cursing and (2 it is actually possible to get used to the taste of diesel fuel.