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Aroostook Tractor

| September/October 2001

  • Aroostook Tractor

  • Aroostook Tractor

1218 Old Clinton Road Westbrook, Connecticut 06498

I grew up on a potato farm in Presque Isle, Maine, but drifted away from farming, and ended up with a degree in chemistry from Purdue, and career in research. That led us to many different locations while the farm which I ended up with gradually followed the laws of entropy and became alder, birch, poplar and fir-enveloped.

Two summers ago, while visiting my brother-in-law in the adjacent town of Mapleton, I remarked that I needed to find a tractor and start cleaning up that awful mess. He, never one to shirk from a project that required mechanical muscle, said, 'Well by gawd, there's one sittin' down in the woods on widow Moreau's land. Been there about 15 years. Bet we could buy it for a song.' So, we walked over to look at what turned out to be a very strange machine, indeed. It was covered by an old tattered tarp, was mostly red in color and appeared at first to be a small Farmall of some type with front end loader-- just what one needs in northern Maine to pile up the white stuff. Without looking any more, we went over to the house to make a deal. Mrs. Moreau informed us that her late husband, Gilly, who had been a science teacher in the local schools, had acquired the tractor, had plowed snow once or twice, and after deciding the engine had a bad piston had parked it in the woods and forgotten about it.

Then she said the magic words, 'I'd love to get it out of here. You can have it for $25.00.'

We were off and running. The original plan was splitting of cost and shared ownership. My brother-in-law had it hauled to his shop, flapping and shuddering, by a nearby farmer with a humongous 4WD tractor. After cleaning off the years of grime, leaves, maple seeds, mouse and moose droppings, and taking a closer look, the following emerged. The tractor was powered by a four cylinder Climax engine with no starter or water pump. A belt driven hydraulics pump mounted on front of the engine powered the trip bucket. Power from the engine reached a cut down rear truck differential via a drop down chain drive and a 3-speed transmission driving two large truck tires braked independently.

To shorten and conclude this story, the little tractor, with help from some local old engine wizards (notably Garlands Electric in Presque Isle) is running great. There were problems such as BB shot in the gas tank that caused momentary and vexing intermittent fuel starvation, a bad governor that limited power, leaky hydraulic hoses and radiator, but surprisingly few major problems--no bad piston.


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