Fordtrac Rides Again: T is for Teamwork

| November/December 1995

  • Model T tractor
    Model T tractor: Ray Schulz in plaid, Merle Offerdahl in dark sweater.

  • Model T tractor

Rt. 2, Box 474 Elk Point, South Dakota 57025

This restoration of the Model T tractor is a far cry from today's Crown Victoria or a 70 Series Genesis tractor.

During the winter of 1994-95, Merle Offerdahl and Ray Schulz of Vermillion, South Dakota, recreated this Model T tractor, sometimes called a Fordtrac. These retirees turned a shop full of parts and a lifetime of experience into a vintage vehicle with smooth sounding motor, high back wheels and polished wooden rack.

Back in the good old days, cars and tractors were user friendly. Most farmers could adapt, repair and overhaul them on the farm. By the 1920s magazines advertised a conversion kit by which a farmer could transform his Model T car into a workweek tractor.

About 15 years ago, Schulz purchased a disassembled Model T engine, a conversion kit with high lug wheels and small cogs, and a stockpile of parts at an auction in Fort Pierre, South Dakota. He says that it's difficult to determine the age of the vehicle they've built because the Model T parts span several years; the newest part is a 1926-27 transmission.

They remember looking at the parts last fall. Nothing was attached. Each piece was separate. Schulz, who had worked with Offerdahl on two previous restorations, had asked, 'Can we build it?' Offerdahl replied, 'If you've got enough parts, we can put it together, but I'm not sure it will run.'