395 S. Burnham Hwy. Lisbon, Connecticut 06351
I am 28 years old and have been reading Gas Engine Magazine for two years. was hoping you would like to hear from one of your younger tractor restorers.
My 1935 F-12 Farmall tractor started life on a farm in Hebron, Connecticut, where it was used for years as the sole tractor on the farm. A problem arose after many years of faithful service when, on a cold fall morning, water that was left in the block caused a crack. Unfortunately this is a common problem with early model Farmalls since they are not equipped with freeze plugs. With the crack in the block, water had gotten into the oil pan and froze the oil pump. When the owner tried starting the tractor he broke the oil pump drive shaft. After that the farmer retired his F-12 tractor to the corner of his field.
A few years later Ben Staba, a good friend of mine also of Hebron, Connecticut, got tired of driving by the F-12 and inquired about it. A deal was made and he then towed it home. Ben then started to work on getting it to run.
With a cleaning of the points the mag was hot again. He then drained the fuel tank and the water from the oil pan. He then fixed the crack in the block. Then the big problem was next: fixing the oil pump drive shaft. Since it was the year 1960, old hand crank F-12's were not popular and parts were getting very hard to come by. Ben being very handy made one up from an old Volkswagen cylinder case stud (yes, I know it's hard to believe but it's true, and it worked for ten years). But after that, the crack that was now 31 inches long became impossible to keep fixed. After that Ben retired it to his barn where he took the motor out in hopes of finding another one. Then Ben found a Farmall 200 which he still uses to this day, so the old tired F-12 never got its new motor.
When I was at Ben's farm cutting my winter supply of firewood, I was telling Ben I was looking for a tractor to haul firewood out of the woods. That's when Ben took me inside his barn and showed me his F-12. It was completely covered with steel and wood right next to his baler. Ben then told me the story of the tractor and he told me I could have the tractor if I was willing to fix it up. So I borrowed a trailer and towed it to its new home.
My first two big problems were a cracked block and two 40 inch rear tires that were completely shot. I looked for a couple of months for a good block, but with no luck. During that time I had already started with the cleaning of the radiator, rebuilding the mag, carburetor, and the fuel pump. I also sent the crankshaft out to be ground and was very surprised to find out it was still standard. The crank and cam gear were shot, as were all the lifters.
One cold winter morning a friend of mine, Lloyd Holden, who also happens to be a Farmall collector, called to tell me he had just picked up a couple of F-12's for parts. We set a date to meet one night. When I arrived I was surprised to see how complete both tractors were. Lloyd had decided to fix up one of the tractors because it had turned out to be a F-14 with overdrive. The F-12 tractor for parts had a complete motor that was stuck, but a crack-free block. I bought the short block from Lloyd and loaded it in my pickup and headed home. Out of the short block I got all the parts I needed: lifters, oil pump, cam and crank gears. Another friend of mine, Lyle Crouch, came up with a piston and sleeve kit, gaskets, and a lot of good advice and F-12 specifications.
My next big problem was the 40 inch rear tires. I looked for over two years with no luck. After looking at many old pictures and doing a lot of research I found out that the original owner had removed the steel wheels after WWII. Since my tractor is a 1935 it would have come with 36 inch rims. With a little luck I found another F-12 with good rims (they were the only good part of the tractor).
I then started on sandblasting all my parts and what I couldn't sandblast I hand sanded and wire brushed. I straightened all the radiator fins, which took ten hours alone. I primed and painted each part before final assembly. I had a lot of people tell me that the 1935 tractor should be painted gray, but the tractor had only been repainted once and all the paint under the hidden parts like the gas tank straps, seat posts, engine mounts, etc. were painted red. I then decided to paint the tractor red.,
I finished assembling the tractor with no major problems. The only parts that were missing were the air cleaner top and belt pulley which I now have. Now the F-12 was fully assembled except for the rims and tires. I painted the tractor on a warm sunny day and put on the decals and detailed some spots. Then I dismounted the tires that were not in that good of shape, but would have to do for now. I sandblasted the rims and painted them.
One day when I came home from work my wife had, sitting in the yard, a brand new pair of 36 inch rear tractor tires. I installed them on my rims and put them on the tractor and the tractor looked great!
The tractor was finished just in time for the Brooklyn Antique Tractor Show, but I still had one problem to solve; two days before the show I got the tractor running but it would not stay running. It was acting like it had a bad fuel pump, but with all the checking I found a rusted fuel line on the inside. When I fixed that, it ran great.
The Brooklyn Antique Show put on by Connecticut Yankee Tractor turned out to be great and worth all the work I did on my tractor.
I want to thank my wife and all my friends for making all of this possible, because without their help I never would have finished the tractor.