CHANCE SAVES A FINE OLD TRACTOR

By Staff
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Kevin Vale cranks her over. Rots of Ruck!
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McCormick-Deering 10-20 found in a collapsed barn by Robert Meldrom, with Kevin Vale dreaming at the wheel. Meldrom calls it 'Cinderella.' Photo courtesy of Robert Meldrom, 132 D-Nunnerly Lane, Baltimore, MD 21228.

132 D-Nunnerly Lane, Baltimore, Maryland 21228.

Having promised to give my daughter and her friend a ride home I
arrived at her school somewhat early. I felt upset and thought that
a walk in the woods across from the school would settle me down.
Returning to the car ten minutes later I passed a collapsed barn.
It would be better described as a pile of boards, tar paper,
shingles, and timbers mixed with a topping of grape vines,
honeysuckle, and briars. My curiousity was aroused, so I started
poking around. There sticking out of this pile of junk was a
spike-toothed wheel. It looked like chance may have guided me to
something interesting. Well, I left all as I had found it and took
the girls home. Then I quickly looked up a friend who had a nice
healthy set of lopping shears and returned to the scene of the
find. Cutting vines out of the way I was able to crawl under the
roof of the building to the wheel. This took thirty minutes, and I
had to cut grape vines 4′ in diameter. But in there was a fine
old steel wheel tractor with all its cleats in place. Certainly it
was in sad shape from neglect, but I had to acquire such a fine
clunker.

The next months were spent trying to trace the owner of the barn
and its contents through many trips to the courthouse. After much
negotiation, I was given permission to take it a year after it was
discovered. None too soon either, for the dozers and road builders
were there when I went to collect it. Everything was about to be
buried in a hole to make way for houses and roads. None of the
workmen, who had been there for two weeks, were aware that anything
was in that wreck of a barn. They said they would help me load up
if I hurried and got my truck there. I returned quickly with truck,
chains, chain binders, shackles, and all the rigging necessary for
tieing down a big chunk of iron. The crane operator came over and
helped rig chains under the front wheels crossing over to the rear
wheels. When he went to lift the boom nothing budged. The tractor
was frozen to the ground! He shook the boom, and she broke loose,
and that rusty, neglected old tractor was moved for the first time
in more than twenty years. She was dressed in briar canes and grape
and honeysuckle vines, and she wore great boots of frozen ground
stuck on her wheels. He lifted her high until I drove my truck
under. As it settled onto the bed the truck sank down under the
weighty load. The old truck sort of felt like it was helping a
relative back to life and grinned as much as I did.

I drove it to a friend’s house (he with the healthy loppers)
and didn’t have time to tell him I had unloaded it there.
There’s no missing seeing it, that’s for sure. Was he
surprised when he got home that night!

The photograph as it is delivered with my friend’s son
roaring along on it (in his imagination). Sad it looks but not
impossible. Judging from the grape vine, on which we counted 19
rings, growing through the steering wheel this old machine has sat
in one place for more than 20 years. The obvious missing parts are
the radiator and the magneto distributor. The parts that are
hopeless are all those of sheet metal. The rest of the machine is
made of castings, and they are in fine shape. The sump has clean,
amber oil in it. One cylinder is frozen up. The gears shift, and
the power take-off turns.

Many people will recognize it as a McCormick-Deering 10-20.
According to International Harvester records the serial number in
the low 4000’s places the manufacture date in 1923the very
first year they made them.

So far the muffler has been cleaned and repaired. A new fuel
tank has been fabricated using the old one as a pattern (this
machine could be run on number one distillate, kerosene, or
gasoline). The rocker arms and push rods are in perfect shape, but
the head has had all the valve seats reground and the mouse nests
have been washed out of the cooling ports.

There is a lot of work yet to be done, but it looks like you
can’t convince that character in the enclosed photograph. Boy,
you dreamer!

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