Monday, October 17, 2005

old tractors

Cliff has loved tractors all his life, I guess.  It was a fascination I never really understood, and certainly did not share for many years.  Every once in awhile he'd get a good buy on some old tractor and knock the dings out of it, paint it, and sell it.  And a few times over the years he painted tractors for other people, and made a few (very few) bucks.  A good paint job is important to him, and at least twice in the years we've had Allis (the one we just sold) Cliff gave her a new paint job and decals simply because she was looking a bit faded.

When my son's family returned from Germany and our then-daughter-in-law and the two kids settled nearby, our grandson Arick spent a lot of time here.  One fall Cliff decided he and Arick would restore an old Farmall H tractor, and it would be Arick's when they were done.  That's a story I'll tell another time; but that "H" was what hooked me into enjoying old tractors.

We started going to tractor shows, and it amazed me to see old relics (including some steam engines over 100 years old) that looked, and ran, like new.  Wow, they really built things to last in those days.  I developed an affection for the old iron, and came to admire the men who restored them in what was, truly, a labor of love.

It was around that time that we paid a visit to my Uncle Leo's farm.  We were strolling around looking at his farm equipment when I spotted a rusty old tractor inside the barn... or at least, part of a tractor.  I inquired about the make and model, and learned it wasn't anything Uncle Leo ever farmed with; it was a "parts tractor" he'd bought when his Allis Chalmers WD needed a radiator.

"Does it run?"  I asked.

Uncle Leo said one of his grandsons had gotten the engine to turn over once.

"Do you want to sell it?"

Poor Cliff turned about four shades of pale, and tried to signal to me that he wasn't interested in this deal.

One thing led to another, and eventually, Uncle Leo gave us the tractor.  All we had to do was drive a hundred miles to his farm and pick it up.  Which we did.  Cliff was still less than enthusiastic.

A friend of Cliff's brother gave us another WC parts tractor, and it seemed to have many of the parts intact that ours needed.  That was a blessing. 

I thought it would be fun to have this for a show tractor because most of the WC Allis Chalmers' we saw at shows were the older, unstyled versions.  We seldom saw one like ours, which was manufactured in 1938, the year they first started  making the "styled" WC.

I can honestly say my orange beauty is an attention-getter at the shows.  Men in their 70's and 80's seem especially attracted to her, and Cliff takes pride in that.  One elderly fellow said, "My goodness, that tractor didn't look that good when it came out of the factory new!"

But it's always been my tractor.  Oh, I've never driven it.  But I was the one who wanted it restored, so it was a labor of love that Cliff did for me.  I guess I wanted it because it came from my beloved uncle, even though it was only a parts tractor.

So before we took it to a show, we had a plaque made for it:

Cliff says he has over $4,000 in this tractor.  There's no way you could ever get that much out of this very common old machine, even though it's been restored.  Which is fine, because I don't want to sell it.  I realize a time will come when it will have to go to the highest bidder, who might pay $2,000 for it if we're lucky.  When that time comes, I know of a young man who wants my tractor. 

And when we're ready to take a loss on it, who better to have the WC than Uncle Leo's grandson? 


memes121 said...

Wonderful story!

ravenlark2 said...

What a great story and a unique hobby.
Would love to see more pictures of the restored tractors.
The plaque was a nice touch.


ora4uk said...

Donna...I know you are a great "guitar" player and singer....but you should have been a writer....what a beautiful story....and yes...the grandson should have the tractor...whenever you are ready to say good bye to it....Hugs...Ora

csandhollow said...

That is a pretty one!