(F-I-T's self portrait)
This page is still being
updated, but below is a general idea of the tractors
I have been
pretty busy with work for the last several years, as
I have been commuting every week from Tallahassee to
Pasadena, CA working on a project. It was supposed to
last 6 weeks, but instead I have been doing this weekly
trip since December of 2003. As a result, there's not
a lot of time left for tractor projects.
In the spring of 2005,
I had a 48' x 75' workshop put up by Morton, and most
every weekend has gone to trying to finish it out. I
also spent a lot of weekends building a 350 sq. ft.
heated and A/C'd "Office" in one corner so
I can work on delicate things or rebuild an engine or
transmission on a stand in a bit of comfort, or at least
have an area to cool down in when it gets too hot to
stay outside continuously. I just finished trenching
the Cat 5/twin phone/twin Sat TV lines so now I have
the 36" Sony TV which I demoted to the barn when
I got HDTV in my home office, and a Tivo running on
separate lines, so now with two phone lines, my wife
can place calls to me out there, or even e-mail me.
She says it's just like I'm on the road! Ain't love
I do keep a running
list of parts needed now or in the future of a project,
so I always seem to have a steady supply of boxes waiting
for me when I get home on the weekend of tractor parts
for the next ones up. If I run into a point where I
have to wait on a part until tomorrow, it means I wait
until I get back home next weekend, so having more than
one project in the hopper lets you move onto something
else and not lose any time. It does put organization
and storage systems to the test. So, now I am putting
up shelves, and sorting through 35 years of tractor
parts and general junk, trying to get my workspace organized,
and filling the loft over the ¡"office"
area, but with flying all day Saturday, going back on
Tuesday early, I only have Sunday and Mondays to work
at it. I had to take about 6 months off a while ago
as it just wasn't fun any more. I don't have any other
help, so it goes pretty slow at times. My daughter asked
what I wanted for Father's Day and I told her, "You,
one day, in the shop. Prepare to clean!¨
All the concrete work
and approaches are done, though the photo only shows
it right after Morton was finished except for one lone
downspout. The 200 amp electrical service is done, by
me with one helper, including a 220V service for my
electrolysis 5 volt/400 amp power supply, and welder
drops, quad outlets every post in the active areas,
and every other post in that storage areas. I have 15
fluorescent HD lighting units, but for now I can't recall
the model numbers, but it lights it up real nice. I
think after the shelves are in place I might also add
a couple of hanging lofts for light weight storage.
I figured under that¡¦s a good place to
park the 855. Eventually I'll run plumbing for the air
from the 8 hp compressor and the Lehman dryer/coalescer,
but for now I'll make do with a long hose. Maybe I'll
get to the hard airlines this fall. Once the shelves
are up, the floor organized, and a semi-permanent paint
booth constructed, I'll be ready to start on my next
two tractor projects.
First up is a couple
of D-65 "20" JD pedal tractors that I have
to strip and rebuild, then apply some nice base coat/clear
coat for my two grandsons who arrived in 2006. I went
from zero to 2 grandkids to two in nine months, and
since they are 1,000 miles from me in different directions,
that has taken some time as well. Thank goodness for
frequent flier miles. Now my wife says I need a third
pedal tractor to keep at our house for when either of
them come to visit. I started on the first one and it
has some sort of semi-gelled paint that won't be cut
with Methylene Chloride or MEK, and I hate to blast
aluminum, and electrolysis is a no-no, so it's the toothbrush-sized
stainless steel wire brush and my famous F-I-T Xylene,
MEK, Methylene Chloride "cocktail". Like I
didn't have anything better to do, jeez.
So on to tractors.
I currently have a 1956 70D that I reclaimed from under
my parents farm barn in Ohio. A tornado had dropped
the barn on it and it took a Cat track hoe to hoist
it out, and at over 7,000 hours on the clock (farmer
speak for "she was flat wore out!") more parts
and money than my dad would have ever imagined, but
it's back to health and I use it whenever I can find
a task for it to do. It has been a float puller in a
couple of shindigs, and while I think it looks pretty
nice (PPG DAR AE and Clearcoat), it's still a working
tractor which is fine because I don't go to shows much,
and my stuff is just for me to play on. Anyhow, I think
that it would be my favorite because the 70 and I go
back quite a few years. So the 70D is here because I
grew up on it.
Next is a '51 VAC
Case, which represents my dad's first tractor that he
bought after the war when he started out on 80 acres.
Tractors were hard to find and his cousin had a Case
dealership and he corned a new '48 VAC, cultivators,
plow, and Detroit sickle bar mower for him, and that
is what he started out using. The old VAC was sold to
a hobbyist near Dayton around 1970, and I have not tried
to track it down, though I doubt that it still exists,
choosing instead to find this one which was closer to
me (south Atlanta), stuck and troubled nonetheless,
and after a significant amount of work (it took $600
in ball bearings alone!!), it now serves as my "chore"
tractor because it is handy with its Eagle hitch and
gas engine. I have a nice grill for it that I need to
get prepped and painted, and that should finish her
up, though she has done a lot of good work for me without
the grill over the past few years. So the VAC is here
because it is the first tractor we had, and the one
on which learned to drive.
Next is a '48 Cub
that was sitting by the Tampa, Florida coast, and it
is rusted in every manner. I should not have even started
on this one, and I might change my mind and part it
out, but by now I have a re-bored block hanging on the
engine stand, and a new piston and crankshaft kit for
it, so I'll probably build out the engine, and it may
go into a better '48 chassis if I find one. My maternal
grandfather had bought a '48 Cub to use in his town
garden plots, and every time I went there, he would
take me for a ride. I thought it was neat because it
was my size. The original resides with my cousin, so
one day I'll stop by there and take some good pictures
so that mine will be equipped like his, except that
mine has hydraulics, and I believe that his did not.
I can't imagine him paying for such a sissy option as
that! So, the '48 Cub is here because my Grandpa Kalkhoff
had one just like it. The photo was taken in the sellers
shop just before he delivered it.
Next comes a '41 "H"
that, like the Cub, is in need of a total rebuild, block
bored, pistons, all bearings, etc. It is a hand start
with a hydraulic unit. My dad's father bought a new
"H" in '39 to replace his last team of horses.
They had bought a new "A" in '36 to replace
their Fordson and eventually the IHC Titan, so another,
smaller JD was a natural choice. The week it was new,
Dad (15 at the time) drove it to town with a wagon to
pick up a batch of new mattresses that Grandma had bought,
and the fellows from the grain elevator across the street
looked it over and asked him just where the engine was,
because it was so small and compact. Dad said when it
was warm and in tune, and if you were wearing rubber
soled shoes, you could kick the flywheel over form the
seat and go popping away. Grandpa drop checked corn
for the first time in the neighborhood by tractor using
the "H". They sawed the double tree off the
old 999 planter and had the local blacksmith bolt some
strap iron on to the tongue to form a hitch. Once they
tried to hook their New Holland baler to the "H"
and when they cranked up the hitch jack, the front wheels
came off the ground. So they took the drawbar to the
blacksmith and had him drill a hole farther back so
they could slide the drawbar in further and the wheels
came back down. And now you know how some of these strange
holes show up on our toys 60 years later. So, my Grandpa
Boerger had an "H", and now I have one for
that reason, albeit my third over the years.
And that is my menagerie.
I have owned dozens of tractors, large and small, over
the years. I always say that I refurbish and do not
restore, because I generally put them to use upon the
final decals, though I sold a '43 "H" to an
OLD farmer in '82 who had his hired man drive it home
while he followed in his Cadillac, and they took to
their first show the next weekend and won for the best
Deere and Grand prize overall. So, I figure my "refurbing"
will stand up. The smallest that I have "refurbed"
was probably a 55 lawn mower, and the largest was a
4440 that had had a severe cab fire. It took $9,000
in parts in '81 dollars, but it is still running today
on my overhaul, so I felt pretty good about that. I
bought, fixed up, and resold tractors through high school,
and kept myself in decent college money in the process.
Not counting all the general repairs one has to make
on particular systems, I have rebuilt most all of a
few "A's", unstyled, styled and late styled,
same for "B's", 1 "G", a couple
of "H's", one "L", helped on a spoker
"D" overhaul when they were not as popular
as they are today, worked a Waterloo Boy "N",
a couple of Rumley Oil Pulls, 50/60/70's, 520, 630,
720D, 730D, one 820D,, 3010D, 4010G, our '64 4020D,
my 855, my old 70 lawn tractor, and then the 4440. Also
included were several other garden tractors, including
the 214 that I bought off of the junk pile from the
local dealer, used for 10 years and sold for $1200.
I did not include many of the off-color makes, though
I have been into a fair share of Fords, Cockshutts,
IHC's, and AC's. My neighbor just came home with a nice
looking Caterpillar Twenty all-fuel, and I drove around
his back yard last weekend, and it looks like I might
have some track marks in my shop as a result of a promise
to help him get it right. As an odd consequence, I have
never owned or worked around a JD model produced in
Dubuque, so I probably have to find one of those someday.
There is a rusty 40U just down the road from me that
has been sitting outside for the last 15 years. The
rust is just about the right color for my taste as I
never seem to do an "easy" one. I get a great
satisfaction in "saving" one from the scrapheap,
and besides, I figure anyone can do the easy ones...
I do most of my own
mechanical work, including paint and body, but I don't
have a good boring mill or valve grinding set up, so
I take the machining stuff into town. Since larger bore
engines with deep cylinders are not so common anymore,
I had to take the block for the 70D to a place in Jacksonville
that specializes in tug boat diesels. When I called
the guy to talk about their services and told him I
was working on an old two cylinder diesel farm tractor,
he asked "What model John Deere are we talking
about?", I knew that was where I needed to go.
Sometimes on this old stuff, you can cost yourself more
money running around looking for a low price given to
you by a guy who might ruin your nearly irreplaceable
part, when another $100 would get you to a shop who
has been there and done it before.
Sorry this got
so long winded, but I wanted to tell you the why on
the tractors so that you would understand the reasoning
behind the models that I have, and why they mean the
most to me. The next tractor I'll go find is a pretty
common old '48 , Roll-A-Matic, gasoline, two stick "A¨.
#595751 was our "A" for years and it suffered
a main case break in the '80's and went off to the junkman,
but only after I transplanted the engine into a '49
with a good rear end and bad crank/busted block chassis.
It's still running today. I want to get another one
of those someday, and that will probably be it. Nothing
rare there, just those particular models that make me
think back to a special time whenever I get on and fire
it up. I wouldn't mind getting a 4020D for odd jobs,
but I think even my city-raised wife will see through
that one. Still, I think I could find our old one. I
think I know who bought it from the guy my dad sold
it to. I might have to call Morton again next year.