Box 550 Capitan, New Mexico 88316
I have collected old engines for several years around my area of
south-central New Mexico. My brother-in-law, Randy Axell of Santa
Paula, California, is also an avid engine collector. When he called
and offered to give me a Fordson tractor, and even deliver it, how
could I refuse?
It was a 1922 model nearly complete, except for seat and
steering wheel. Even the engine was free! I started looking for the
parts I would need to complete restoration. This led to the
discovery that old Fordson tractor parts were scarcer than the
proverbial ‘hen’s teeth’ around my area, which is not
really farming country. Our hometown of Capitan has an elevation of
6,500 feet. We are located about 15 miles north of Sierra Blanca
peak, a popular ski area, that is 12,003 feet high. My tractor
project was put on hold for awhile.
On a trip to North Dakota to visit relatives, lo and behold, I
found some parts I needed, including a set of homemade pneumatic
front wheels. After a complete tear down with extensive engine work
and lots of help from my good friend John Miller, the Fordson
started to take shape. I am very lucky that my wife, Cheryl, loves
old iron as much as I do. Her help and support is invaluable-in
fact, she did the entire painting of the Fordson.
Finally it was time to start the beast. I had heard many horror
stories from old timers about starting Fordsons, but I had a big
advantage. This one had a timer adapter with an impulse-coupled
magneto. It still took a lot of cranking before getting the gas
mixture right, but it ran fine.
I had one thing left to do. If I wanted to drive on paved roads,
the cleats would have to be removed. I heard you could cut the
tread from a tire, then cut it apart and bolt it to the wheel. A
friend donated two used rear tires and after wearing a blister on
my hand cutting the sidewalls out, I had a most pleasant surprise.
The tread fit almost perfectly! All I had to do was bolt them to
By this time it was mid-December and I had the Christmas spirit.
I started to throw away the tire sidewalls, when I had a
brainstorm. Why not paint the sidewall green and put a big red bow
on it for a Christmas wreath. My wife did the painting and put the
bows on it. I think it makes a very attractive wreath appropriate
to our hobby. We had many compliments.
The Fordson was finally finished, complete with a test drive in
a snowstorm, just in time for a wonderful Christmas. Here’s
wishing all of you a Christmas just as nice.