Route 1, Box 139, LeCenter, Minnesota 56057
I recently purchased a Hart-Parr tractor from Del Stroupe of Burlington, Wisconsin and at the time, he wasn't just too sure what model it was. He said it was a two cylinder crossmount with a honeycomb radiator. So, sight unseen, I paid some money down on it with the understanding that when I laid eyes on it and I wasn't satisfied with it, the down payment would be refunded.
The tractor was located at Mr. Stroupe's summer home at Eagle River, Wisconsin in northeastern Wisconsin. So, Wednesday, December 1, my neighbor, Glen Brown and myself started out for Eagle River, which is about 280 miles northeast of here. We loaded my farm truck down with planks for loading blocks, winch, handy man jack, a couple of tools and a hay bucker, which I was to deliver to Tony Prock of Rice Lake, Wisconsin. We left at 5:00 in the morning and it was cold-about 5° below zero. The first stop on our way was at the home of Tony Prock to deliver the bucker he had bought from me. Tony lives north of Rice Lake, Wisconsin and puts on the Hungry Hollow Threshing Show each year. To our dismay, Tony had just left for Minnesota to attend an auction (maybe we should have turned around and followed him back-he probably found some good buys). So we dropped off the bucker and with Tony's wife's permission looked over his collection of antique tractors and machinery and then resumed our journey.
On the way, we slowed up several times to look at an old tractor or car sitting in someone's yard or grove of trees. We had to keep going because we were supposed to be in Eagle River around 1:00 to meet the caretaker of Mr. Stroupe's summer home, so he could show us where the tractor was.
As we were going by this one town we noticed a huge junk yard along the highway. Glen said let's stop and check it out. So we did, and sure enough, back in the corner were sitting two old John Deere tractors. Glen was looking for a block that was the same as one of the tractors there. We inquired how much it would cost and the man said 5cent per pound, but we had to take it off ourselves. Another fellow who worked there helped us by lifting the tractor with a wrecker so we could get at all the bolts easier. It was bitter cold-the temperature had risen all the way to 0 and it was beginning to snow now. We finally departed there about 3:00 and had an hours drive ahead of us yet to Eagle River.
We pulled into town about 4:00 and looked up the caretaker. He then led us a short distance out of town through the tall pine trees to a small driveway. He said we had to back into the driveway because there was no room to turn around with the truck because of the trees. The driveway was about 200 yards long and very narrow, but we made it without knocking off any truck mirrors. There it was-sitting beneath the snow covered pines, covered with a snowmobile cover. There was about 8 inches of snow on the ground and more coming down. The tractor turned out to be a Hart-Parr '30' serial #17892, a 1920 model. Mr. Stroupe had started to restore it. He had one coat of paint on it and he did have it running in the summer. After admiring it for a short while we decided to get loading because it was getting dark. I backed the truck up to the tractor, raised the hoist and put the planks in position.
We then dropped a log chain down over the front of the box and hooked it around the truck frame so we had something solid to pull from with the hand operated cable winch. We then removed the fenders, gas tank, and radiator as they were just setting in place and not fastened down yet. We hooked the cable around the front end and started cranking the winch. Did it ever pull hard. After looking around, we noticed the rear wheels weren't turning. Now what to do? It was pitch dark by this time, getting colder, snowing, and the wind had just knocked a hand full of snow off a branch right down the back of my neck. After looking the situation over, we decided the transmission case must have had water in it and is frozen - preventing the gears from turning. We either had to take the drive pinions off, which would be a job because the wheels would have to come off to remove the pinions, or to start a fire under the tractor and thaw out the transmission case. We decided to do the latter of the two. I walked through the woods a short distance from the tractor to a neighbor's house to borrow some newspapers to build a fire. Luckily, there was a pile of fireplace wood next to the tractor and in a short while we had a nice fire going. All we needed now was hot dogs and marshmallows. But our minds were on getting #17892 loaded and get out of the woods and on our way home. After about an hour, the gears finally broke loose. We had one rear wheel jacked up so we could jerk back and forth on it to tell the minute it broke loose. We then resumed our cranking and we loaded it without any more trouble. The clouds then broke and a full moon shone down bitterly cold. By the time we got home, which was 3:00 A.M., the mercury had dropped to 15° below zero.
The next day we unloaded it at Glen and Eldon Brown's shop and, luckily enough, the gears stayed loose. Now, to complete the restoration and get it ready for our threshing show in August.