Kevin Vale

Kevin Vale cranks her over. Rots of Ruck!

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132 D-Nunnerly Lane, Baltimore, Maryland 21228.

Having promised to give my daughter and her friend a ride home I arrived at her school somewhat early. I felt upset and thought that a walk in the woods across from the school would settle me down. Returning to the car ten minutes later I passed a collapsed barn. It would be better described as a pile of boards, tar paper, shingles, and timbers mixed with a topping of grape vines, honeysuckle, and briars. My curiousity was aroused, so I started poking around. There sticking out of this pile of junk was a spike-toothed wheel. It looked like chance may have guided me to something interesting. Well, I left all as I had found it and took the girls home. Then I quickly looked up a friend who had a nice healthy set of lopping shears and returned to the scene of the find. Cutting vines out of the way I was able to crawl under the roof of the building to the wheel. This took thirty minutes, and I had to cut grape vines 4' in diameter. But in there was a fine old steel wheel tractor with all its cleats in place. Certainly it was in sad shape from neglect, but I had to acquire such a fine clunker.

The next months were spent trying to trace the owner of the barn and its contents through many trips to the courthouse. After much negotiation, I was given permission to take it a year after it was discovered. None too soon either, for the dozers and road builders were there when I went to collect it. Everything was about to be buried in a hole to make way for houses and roads. None of the workmen, who had been there for two weeks, were aware that anything was in that wreck of a barn. They said they would help me load up if I hurried and got my truck there. I returned quickly with truck, chains, chain binders, shackles, and all the rigging necessary for tieing down a big chunk of iron. The crane operator came over and helped rig chains under the front wheels crossing over to the rear wheels. When he went to lift the boom nothing budged. The tractor was frozen to the ground! He shook the boom, and she broke loose, and that rusty, neglected old tractor was moved for the first time in more than twenty years. She was dressed in briar canes and grape and honeysuckle vines, and she wore great boots of frozen ground stuck on her wheels. He lifted her high until I drove my truck under. As it settled onto the bed the truck sank down under the weighty load. The old truck sort of felt like it was helping a relative back to life and grinned as much as I did.

I drove it to a friend's house (he with the healthy loppers) and didn't have time to tell him I had unloaded it there. There's no missing seeing it, that's for sure. Was he surprised when he got home that night!

The photograph as it is delivered with my friend's son roaring along on it (in his imagination). Sad it looks but not impossible. Judging from the grape vine, on which we counted 19 rings, growing through the steering wheel this old machine has sat in one place for more than 20 years. The obvious missing parts are the radiator and the magneto distributor. The parts that are hopeless are all those of sheet metal. The rest of the machine is made of castings, and they are in fine shape. The sump has clean, amber oil in it. One cylinder is frozen up. The gears shift, and the power take-off turns.

Many people will recognize it as a McCormick-Deering 10-20. According to International Harvester records the serial number in the low 4000's places the manufacture date in 1923the very first year they made them.

So far the muffler has been cleaned and repaired. A new fuel tank has been fabricated using the old one as a pattern (this machine could be run on number one distillate, kerosene, or gasoline). The rocker arms and push rods are in perfect shape, but the head has had all the valve seats reground and the mouse nests have been washed out of the cooling ports.

There is a lot of work yet to be done, but it looks like you can't convince that character in the enclosed photograph. Boy, you dreamer!