Restoration of 10-20 McCormick Deering

By Staff
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McCormick Deering before restoration.
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McCormick Deering after restoration.

1905 Ridgeway Lane, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39401.

A carpenter’s handsaw comes in handy in removing old hardened tires from wheels of a 10-20 McCormick Deering. Cut across the tire, down to the rim twice, remove a three inch plug of the tire by cutting above the wire with a pocket knife. Drive a crowbar under the wire rims. Use a cold chisel and cut the wire rim-both sides. Then, peel the tire off the rim with the crowbar, using both hands, and a few big screw drivers, and a bigger hammer. After a few dozen years, iron, rust, rubber and decay become one. The 16 inch front wheels are patched by cutting a section one to two inches wide and three or more inches’ long from the outside edge of a 15 inch car wheel. Spot weld this under the 16 inch tractor wheel that’s rusted through. Body filler is good to smooth out the patch after it is sandblasted.

The 24 inch rear wheels are strengthened by spot welding on each side of a 5/8 iron rod that the machine shop rolled in a 26 inch circle. The wheels are then ready for sandblasting and prime painting.

The pistons are covered with alcohol stove fuel. This is a thin liquid that will soften carbon.

Use plenty of WD-40, then Red Devil lye. After splashing it once, you learn how to use it. A can of lye in a gallon of water is a great solution to get under rust, paint, grease, dirt, and help separate metal parts. Let it soak, do its work and squirt it off with the garden hose. As the part dries, use a pocket knife, chisel, wire brush, whatever, to detail the part. Paint the dry part immediately with primer and go to the next part.

For the skeptic, lye is the ingredient in paint remover you buy at the store for $10 to $12. You can make your own for about 10% of the cost. I have used lye for years with no adverse effect.

The fuel tank had received bad treatment. A big hole, probably a bullet, turned in the little animals that store nuts, birds that build nests, also a snake shed was in the tank. About an inch of asphalt was in the tank, indicating it had been parked out in the woodland with a full tank of kerosene. After getting the tank fairly clean, I used body filler to patch the holes, and Pedersen’s gas tank sealer.

The clutch well was full of leaves, mud, water and rust. Unable to locate a 12 inch drive disc, I removed an 11 inch disc from a 7-30 parts tractor. The 10-20 splined shaft is larger than the 7-30, so these were exchanged. Unable to find ? inch rivets, I used ? inch hardened bolts and hammered the threads over the nuts.

The radiator was and is a problem. All of the leaks have not been located. One expert said the radiator had been shot with a shotgun. A small box of black pepper has helped to slow the water leaks. Pepper spreads out in water; corn meal balls up and is not recommended by shade tree mechanics.

A rebuilt 7-4 magneto was installed. It is about an inch shorter in the coupling than the original E4A magneto. After I got some parts, they were shimmed with washers to push out far enough to drive the magneto.

The 4 speed transmission and steering gear inside the case look like new money-brass works at work.

The tractor was given to me by a farmer. His daddy passed away recently, at almost 90 years of age. The farmer said that the family story about the tractor was-in the late 20’s or early 30’s, his daddy and another man took two tractors and made one. The tractor was always yellow.

I was reared on a farm, worked with farmers since college, am now partially retired except for appraisal work. I live in town but have timber land. My hobby of old iron started about 15 years ago with two cylinder John Deeres and one cylinder gas engines. There is not much old iron in this part of the world.

A question that comes my way frequently: “When did it quit being McCormick Deering and become John Deere?”

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