My Dream Come True!

WD-40 tractor

The fellow on the tractor is my dad. It had been 21 years since he was last at the controls of a WD-40. The tractor was running in the picture.

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Box 501 Warburg, Alberta Canada T0C 2T0

This has two WD-40 tractors involved. The first is about the one I fixed and the other WDC #578.

I shall give a brief history of the #578 first. It was bought new by Greenhough's Ltd. in the spring of 1936. Greenhough's Ltd. was a partnership between two brothers, Fred and Hargreaves. They had an IHC dealership in the Genesee, Keephills district of Alberta which was about fifty-five miles southwest of the city of Edmonton. Edmonton is the capital city of the Province of Alberta, Canada. Greenhough's Ltd. also farmed in the area at the same time. They quit the dealership in 1966 but they still farm in the same area today.

Greenshough's is now run by sons of the former partners: Harvey, Bill and Glen. Harvey believes that #578 was the first diesel wheeled tractor to reach Edmonton. Of course, at this late date, I don't know if there are any documents to prove it, but this is interesting as there are scores of diesel tractors around Edmonton now. #578 was a 1935 model and was painted bluish grey. It was originally on steel, but Greenhough's tried it out on rubber too. They have a picture of it on rubber tires. Greenhough's used #578 mostly on the breaking plow in summer doing their own and customer breaking. It ran around the clock lots of times, especially through WW II. In winter they did custom feed grinding with it.

In 1951 they decided to sell #578 and my dad, Vernon Osbak, bought it along with a breaking plow. We still have the plow, although the trip is broken. At that time #578 was on steel wheels with 6' extension rims front and back. It still has these wheels. Dad used #578 for custom breaking until the early sixties, and he changed the frame under it as the old one was leaking gear oil from a crack it had at the bottom of the rear end.

The frame he replaced it with was from a 1938 W-40. This tractor was a derelict at the time, with the motor out of it. It was on steel and had a four speed transmission. It also had a three spoke hard rubber covered steering wheel. I still have the steering gear from this tractor. After this repair Dad used #578 mostly around home for the heavier jobs.

In 1968 Dad had a piece of land that needed root harrowing. #578, by this time, was in pretty sad shape after all those years of hard work. However, Dad went to see a farmer who had a WD-40 quite similar to #578. I remember seeing the farmer use this tractor when we went to town when I was a small kid. It had been parked for some years, with the No. 1 connecting rod bearing shot. The farmer agreed to sell his tractor to Dad, so Dad could use parts from it. Dad brought the fuel pump, fuel tank and radiator home, as well as the magneto, which turned out to be dead.

Dad never bothered to bring the rest of the tractor home. He changed fuel pumps, radiator and fuel tanks and did his root harrowing. This was in May of 1968. It was the last time WDC-#578 was to run. It was parked on my grandfather's farm until 1976 when Dad and I pulled it home.

By this time the motor was seized up solid and had been since the fall of 1968. It was in late October of 1968 that I walked by #578 and realized nobody had drained the water from it. I drained the radiator and it drained fine but no water would come from the block. It had been pretty cold a couple of times that month, so maybe the water had already gotten on top of the pistons due to frost. It could also have been that something was blocking the drain cock and not letting the water out. I was only sixteen at the time and didn't know enough to try and clear the drain and see what would happen.

I  tried to turn the motor over but it would not turn, so I simply thought the old motor was seized up and that was the end of it.

By 1976, when I took out the spark plugs, the water just poured from No. 2  & No. 3 cylinders. You can imagine what this would have done to those cylinders, freezing and thawing over those eight years. Quite a bit of water came out of the oilpan when I drained that too. This had been my first attempt to get the old tractor running again but I soon gave it up.

#578 sat undisturbed until the spring of 1983. It was then that we moved out of the Genesee district. We took all of our machinery with us, including the old tractor. It was about this time that I secretly thought of getting the old girl running again, but I never did much about it until the end of 1986. By then I had built a shop and a shed at our new place so I had a place to work. #578 was in the shed and had been since 1984. It is still there.

In early 1987 I started to look the old tractor over and decided that there weren't many original parts left on it. There were the motor, hood, transmission, pulley housing, transmission housing cover, seat, and steering wheel that were original. The wheels could be original. They certainly had been on the tractor longer than I had been around. The radiator, fuel pump and tank were from the other WD-40. The front end fenders were from the W-40. The rear fuel tank mount had been changed also. The only other original parts were the throttle lever and the firewall that held the serial number tag. Besides this, the fenders were and are in terrible shape.

It is unfortunate that the old fuel pump, radiator and frame were all scrapped. The fuel pump and radiator went in 1976, and the frame in 1979. I'm sure the frame could have been fixed today, if it had been around. Also, the radiator could have been recored. I do have the original fuel tank, though.

In 1987 I began thinking of the other WD-40. Dad said that the fenders were pretty good and that the transmission and rear end were in good shape. Of course, after nineteen years, I didn't think that a dismantled, derelict, old tractor would still be around. Not at the price that scrap metal had been through the seventies. That was the reason the old frame etc. were gone. In fact, old #578 had been threatened with the same fate a few times but Dad would never let it go.

You can imagine my surprise at finding this old tractor still sitting there. I had it hauled home on June 1, 1987. The next year was spent working on the tractor in my spare time. I found the serial number tag was missing so I didn't know how old it was. I found out pretty quick that the motor wasn't seized either. In fact, there was no sign of rust in it. The exhaust had been covered and all spark plugs kept in. The crankshaft was shot, however; it was cracked in six places. This is getting ahead of myself, though, as I spent the summer of 1987 cleaning and scraping old paint and dirt. I found two dates: one on the front of the timing cover on the motor read 2-19-35; the other number under the frame read 2-20-35. I thought that these should date it as a 1935 model. On the timing cover of tractor #578 I found the date 4-8-35, WOW! Now I thought that this tractor was even older than #578.

However, from information from Mr. Branstad I now believe that this tractor had simply been made up of spare parts. If it was a 1935 model it should have shown signs of grey paint. All I could find were two previous coats of red. On the original parts of #578 they show no sign of being red. They look black or are rusty. The wheels do show that they were once red.

So, as I took this tractor apart and cleaned it up, I first painted each part with two coats of rust paint and a cover coat of IHC red. I gave the frame two coats of IHC red.

The engine crankcase proved to be a later model than the one in #578. The head, injectors, carburetor and manifolds were the same on both tractors.

I ended up using the crankshaft, flywheel, clutch, rocker arm assembly, push rods, connecting rods and injectors from #578. (I have since had to change one injector.) In June of 1988 I had this tractor all painted and put back together. I even put the decals on it. When I turned the motor over I heard an ominous clunk along the crankshaft. Some bearing was too loose.

I never did anything with it until late fall of 1988. Then I found I hadn't shimmed No. 4 connecting rod bearing enough. I got this straightened out and also had the magneto reconditioned. I also got a carburetor fixed up with new gaskets. April 30, 1989 proved to be a big day! This was the day that Dad and I got the WD-40 going. It had had several false starts before this with plugged gas lines and leaky fuel line connections. Even on this day it was missing-one injector wasn't working. One of my uncles found that it was No. 4 not working and changed it.

In early June, two years after first bringing this old relic home, it took off and ran like a trooper. It still gave me the same thrill to hear that old motor as it had all those years ago when I was a small boy. Even then, I felt that the 'old 40,' as it was called, was something special. After all these years that feeling has not left me. In fact, I like to think that the heart and spirit of old #578 is in this other tractor and still going strong.

As I am not a mechanic and had to do this project by the 'seat of my pants,' I have found that you need people to help you out. Two people who have helped very much are Matt Somordzic and his son, Randy. They run a Deutz Allis dealership in a nearby town and have a great interest in old machines. They got a set of rings, ground the valves, got the two magnetos fixed and did countless other things during this project. To them I have to say a great big thank you. Also thanks to Bill, Harvey and Glen Greenhough who gave me information about #578's early days. Bill is currently restoring a WK-40.

Besides the WD-40 I have a Super WD-6 that I bought at an auction last year. It is a 1953 model and had been repainted some years ago. It runs fine and I enjoy it quite a bit too. These tractors are all kept under cover out of the elements.