Finally He Sold His 'Z' To Me!

Moline Tractor

Minneapoiis-Moline model ZTU, serial number 561246.

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10422 Highway H, Marshfield, Wisconsin 54449

This story started about six years ago. I went along with a fellow club member by the name of Wilfred Miessner, an elderly gentleman, to his farm to get some logs for a drag saw demonstration for our North Central Wisconsin Steam and Gas Engine Club Show at rural Edgar, Wisconsin. As we drove by this dilapidated overhead granary, which had partially fallen down, I spotted an old tractor inside with the granary floor on top. I asked Wilfred what kind it was, and he told me it was a 1937 'Z' Moline. When we came back from the woods with the logs, first thing we did was stop at the granary to have a look-see. After some conversation, I asked if he wanted to sell it. You know the old story, 'Someday I want to fix it.'

Over the next few years at our monthly meetings, I asked Wilfred, once in a while, if he wanted to sell the 'Z' yet, but I just got a no answer. Finally, the first meeting of the year, February, 1989 I just jokingly asked Wilfred if he wanted to sell the 'Z' yet and I'll be darned if he didn't about floor me when he said YES! I couldn't believe what I had just heard. I asked him for a price, and he told me it wouldn't be much but he did finally give me a price. I told him to consider it sold.

The first meeting of the year was on Sunday afternoon, so I told Wilfred I'd be over there Monday forenoon. I was going within a mile of his place anyway to look the situation over, for getting the tractor out from under the granary. I would need a jack, some blocking, maul, chain saw and some wrenches. A date was set to get the tractor.

The day finally came to retrieve my prize possession. The only way to get the tractor out was to take boards off the side of the old granary and cut the braces out with the chain saw. After jacking some beams up and blocking them, taking a couple bolts out to lower the steering shaft and wheel, a cultivator bracket and lever had to come off, and I was beginning to make progress. One of the beams had fallen on the gas tank and smashed it down a couple of inches. Now for some air in one front tire, the other one was already blown out, and a little in one rear tire. I didn't want to put too much air in the rear tire or I'd have to jack the beam up higher. Also the rear tires were sunken in the ground about six inches. I had to turn the front wheels at a right angle to come out the side, the only way out. I was now ready for the big pull. I had Wilfred pull it out with a bigger Moline. It wasn't easy getting those rear wheels out of the holes. The ground outside was starting to thaw and getting muddy so traction wasn't the best. We finally got the 'Z' out and pulled onto the trailer. We were still conversing about the 'Z,' and Wilfred told me the tractor had been overhauled not too long before it was parked.

Something else went wrong but I didn't remember what it was, or why he parked it. Then he said he had to get different rear rims, because they rusted out in places due to fluid from the tires, so the Moline dealer made him a deal on some used tires, rims and cast wheels.

I asked if he had the original rear wheels, and he said that they were out behind another shed frozen in the ground yet. It had originally come with rear steel wheels, which were cut off and replaced with rubber.

After a half hour of chopping frozen ground, I got them out and loaded onto the trailer too. Now after about four and a half hours, I was ready to head for home.

The 'Z' stayed on the trailer a few days until I got time to pull it off. I parked it for a couple of months, until I got more time to work on it. I cleaned the carburetor and cleaned the gas tank out. I had repaired the original rims and primed them. I eventually got the tires off the cast wheels and put on the original wheels. The front rims weren't any good. A friend of mine had one. The second, I found didn't have the right center, so I cut the center out of the old one and welded it in.

I tried starting the 'Z' with the crank, but that was too much work. I had already checked for fire at the magneto, and checked the plugs. I would have belted it up to my WC Allis, but the pulley for the 'Z' was broken, so I waited until I got help to pull it. I finally got it started by pulley. It didn't hit on all four, but the longer it ran the better it ran.

Before starting, I had checked the valves to make sure there weren't any stuck, but I suspected one wasn't closing all the way, and that is why it wasn't hitting. Now it got parked for another year. I had moved 30 miles away. I did a few other projects and a lot of other unimportant things as I believe everyone who has this hobby does. I do restore and paint tractors for other people once in a while, too.

Now it's about the middle of July, 1991 and I wanted the 'Z' ready our show, which was to be August 24, 25. Friday, August 23, was set up day, and I still had plenty of work to do before painting. I had other things to do besides working all the time on the 'Z'. The rear fenders were in pretty bad shape. Someone had tried to pound out some of the dents, probably with a maul, the way it looked. That only makes a job of straightening the fenders take twice as long.

I finally had the fenders and hood straightened and primed. I wanted to get the gas tank straight, too. I took a short piece of ? inch key stock, slid a short small chain over the key stock and tied a wire around the chain and key stock and slid that into the gas tank filler neck. I wired this set up so nothing would fall into the tank, for then I'd waste more time. I had my come-along on a beam in the garage and hooked it to the chain and started pullling the smashed tank up. It straightened real good.

Now it was Monday, August 19, late afternoon. I got the wheels off and tractor on stands. Tomorrow I would paint (Tuesday). I painted the wheels Wednesday and Thursday morning and I put them back on the tractor. I put on a new muffler, new spark plugs and turned on the gas. One pull up on the crank and it was running. I used acrylic enamel paint so it would be dry quickly, so I wouldn't get my pants stuck to the seat. I loaded everything on the trailer so I'd be ready for Friday morning.

The show was our biggest yet. I got a lot of compliments on my 'Z' and lots of leads on other 'good' iron. After I brought it home, my three year old grandson, Jeremiah, wanted a ride on it every time he came over. I had thought about selling the 'Z' but he says, 'Papa that's my tractor!' So it's in the shed covered up. I hope as he gets older he will like the 'old iron' and help preserve it. Now, on to another project that I've had longer than the 'Z.' I have a B2 Co-op to restore.