The Tractor Trophy

Toy tractor

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Merna, Nebraska 68856

In a very conspicuous place of honor in our home, sits a lovely trophy, which says on its base, '1st Place, Peoples Choice Antiques'.

To the casual observer-fine-so Tom got a trophy, big deal-but I know the history of the old tractor that won for him that honor. While talking with a friend about some entirely different subject, Tom's attention centered on an old 'stack' of iron, nestled comfortably in a sand bank. The entirely different subject was immediately dropped and the usual question of an antique tractor hunter, exploded: 'Do you want to sell that?' That, turned out to be a 4 wheel drive 1930 Massey Harris. This was over 15 years ago.

At regular intervals, the question was often brought up, but the friend owner didn't want to sell, then later, after the father died, the family treasured Dad's tractor. The promise of 'when we sell, you will have first chance' kept hope alive for Tom's someday owning the it.

After the #1 son's death, in August of 1984, the mother called and asked, 'Are you still interested in Bill's old 4 wheel?'

I think the tracks still show where the machinery trailer and pickup went around the corner, heading for the hills and this treasure. After getting it home and upon examination of the 'patient' in the shop, many iron doctors would have placed it in the category of hopeless, but not Tom- although it had a cracked cylinder wall, a broken block, a cracked head and a damaged pan, which the mice had used for their apartments, for no telling how long. And that was just a few of the ailments. Really, not being mechanically inclined, it looked pretty hopeless. But my Tom saw over all this and the impossible just would take a little longer.

We started looking for an OOC Hercules motor. I began to think if there were two, ours was a wreck and the other was gone somewhere, no one knew where. A kindly soul in Minnesota wrote to us in response to our ad in GEM and finally another tractor man in Kansas said he had some repairs he thought we could use.

Old tractors are such a nice hobby for a husband-I enjoy going with him and enjoy the country scenery while he searches for 'treasures'. Our trip to Kansas provided some much needed material with which to start restoring Tom's dream. One man welded the block which he said might not hold, but it did. Another young mechanic put a liner in the cylinder wall that he didn't know if it could be relied upon, but we did. The mice were evicted and as yet, we have had no lawsuits. Our young mechanic also found rings and fixed the head.

Then all was well but the magneto-dead or dying-and what color to paint it. The Ertl Model Company had a color on their toy tractor we thought might do, but they could not divulge their business secret. Miles traveled netted very little concerning the recharging of the magneto's magnet or finding the right color paint. In desperation, we tried our own method- 1 table spoon blue, 2 table spoons white, 1 tablespoon black and thus it went until at last we found a color we wanted. He worked and changed and tinkered and changed and finally it hit and sputtered and took off-it at least was running, not good, but running. All this excitement came on the 4th of July, 1986 just 10 days and one month short of two years since it had followed us home. Now, to finish with the paint job.

The local car club was having a Pioneer Day Car and Tractor Show, September 6 and 7, 1986. As of about April or May, the plan, in fact, a promise to display this treasure was made. We would be there. Tom hasn't found time to retire so he just works on these 'beauties' in his spare time. As August days passed, pressure was building. It came down to 2 weeks in which to paint 2 tractors-Fine!

He had also restored an International 1929 Regular and both were now purring like kittens, but they were not painted and with one week for each tractor, no problem, only what we didn't figure on was one week of rain. Now, it was 2 tractors for one week. Some of the other farm work got put on hold and even though some of the painting was done at night, September 4, it was completed and come September 6, two beautifully restored tractors were parked inside the show building and guess what-it was still raining.

The visitors at the Pioneer Show were requested to vote for their favorite antique, and now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story, and now you also know why I'm almost as proud of Tom's trophy as he is but he would never admit it, but I can sure see his eyes light up when he looks at it, but not nearly as much as when he looks at his former 'basket case.'