11920 Ponca Road, Omaha, NE 68112
One nice fall day in 1984 we set out to find a small I.H.C. tractor. We, (my wife Martha and I) had heard heard of just such a tractor in the South Omaha area. We spent a couple of weekends looking and ended up finding nothing.
A few weeks later we were visiting with our friends Jack and Jackie Kreeger. They are avid John Deere collectors. Well I was telling Jack about this little tractor and I'll be darned if he didn't know exactly where to find one. So Jack and I went to take a look at it.
It was a cold, windy, mid November day. When we got there we had to walk over a hill and out of sight of the road, low and behold there sat the little tractor in the middle of a large lot.
The first thing that I noticed was that the exhaust pipe didn't have a cover over it. All the tires were flat and there was a piece of raggedy canvas covering the rest of the tractor. Well, I didn't get too excited at this point. We went to a nearby garage in hopes of finding out who the owner was. The man who ran the garage told us that the owner had passed away, but that he had the wife's telephone number on the wall in his office. We went inside and sure enough the number was on the wall. We gave it a ring but didn't get an answer so we went on home.
Then one Saturday early in December of 1985 Jack called me and told me that the little tractor was for sale. He said we should go and take a closer look, but he also told me to bring the trailer. I got all hooked up to the trailer and went over to Jack's to pick him up and then we took off to where the little tractor sat. It took us about 45 minutes to get there. Those 45 minutes were enough time for anticipation to set in.
It was still sitting in the same place with that raggedy old canvas on it. We uncovered it to find that one of the fenders was missing; luckily we found it laying in some weeds nearby. I grabbed the crank, knowing full well that since the exhaust pipe hadn't been covered that it was probably stuck tight, but I gave it a pull and it TURNED!
We discovered from the serial plate that it was a Fairway 12! This is when I got very excited. Fairway 12's are very uncommon as there were only 600 of them ever made during the years that Fairway was manufactured. Well I said to Jack, 'Let's go make a deal,' and we did.
After making the deal, Jack and I loaded the little tractor on the trailer and took it home.
Arriving home, my three sons, ages 33, 30 and 29 were waiting for me in the driveway. I barely got the truck and trailer stopped before they began trying to get it started. They checked the oil and filled it with gas and then cranked and cranked but it wouldn't start. It had good spark but didn't seem to be getting any gas, so they pulled the fuel pump off and cleaned it real good and the little Fairway 12 ran! It didn't run real good but then it didn't look real good either.
The restoration of the little Fairway took my wife and I about 6 months. We completely disassembled it top to bottom. Starting from the bottom up it needed new brake lining, rear grease seals and four brand new tires. Getting all the parts ready for painting seems like an endless job. First the paint remover, then scrape, then wash-remover, scrape, wash... My wife can attest to this part of it by the number of rubber gloves she went through.
I had to strengthen and weld some holes shut on the rear fenders. We then sandblasted the fenders, gas tank and hood. With that done we primed everything and sanded it all down. Nowe we were ready for reassembly and paint. We painted in I.H. red (of course).
The finishing touch were the decals that we put on. The little Fairway 12 was ready for a show.
Our first show with the Fairway was the Central Hawkeye Gas Engine and Tractor Association, Inc. It was held on July 18-19-20, 1986 at Waukee, Iowa. The little Fairway was a big hit! Everybody loved it!
The little tractor that was virtually doomed on a lot in South Omaha is now a big source of pride and joy for us and serves as a reminder of the past to all who see it.