Gas Engine Magazine

Restoring The OS-6 McCormick-Deering

By Staff

5 High Street Pepperell, MA 01463

I got this tractor in January of 1985. I bought it sight unseen
other than a photo that was taken from a distance. My advice to you
is never buy a tractor sight unseen, unless you get a real good
buy, or can trust the person you are buying it from. When I got to
the place to load the tractor, I would have turned around and gone
home if I had not already paid for it. It really was nothing more
than a parts tractor. I have restored a few antique tractors, but
this one was what might be known as a ‘basket case’. When
we tried to move it, the right rear wheel was locked up and stayed
that way until I took it apart. This made for a tough job loading
and unloading it, especially in the snow. When I got it home and
unloaded it, I took the plug out of the crankcase and nothing came
out, it was ice. I took a punch and broke the ice and let the
dirtiest oil I ever saw out of the crankcase. With this now known
and the overall appearance of the tractor, I scratched my head in
amazement that I was so foolish.

The following couple of months found me taking the tractor apart
down to the last nut and bolt. I put this tractor on the shelf so
to speak in May of 1985, because I got a W-9 that I restored the
summer of 1985. I also got a WK-40, McCormick-Deering at the same
time and took it apart also. I have the WK-40 back together with
the exception of the engine. I had to get a new block etc. so I
went back on the OS-6 to finish it up. I will explain just how bad
this tractor was as follows, starting with the hood which had a
hole punched through it on the top to allow for a vertical exhaust,
similar to the Farmall. The exhaust on an OS-6 comes out between
the governor and the radiator as visible in the picture. This hole
was driven through the perforated section of the hood and would be
very difficult to repair, so I used the hood from the O-6 parts
tractor that I had purchased for parts. The air cleaner pipe was
missing and also the spring and adapter on top of the air cleaner.
Both the oil and temperature gauges were broken and the carburetor
heat deflector was missing. The battery box was not salvageable and
the cover was missing. The sediment bowl was broken and no gas line
at all. The choke rod was missing and the cover for the gas cap was
also missing. The splines on the rear wheels were worn so bad that
one would almost have time to get the cows in between forward and
reverse directions. I corrected this by drilling with a hand fed
drill through splines on each wheel and inserting a ?’ round
stock as a dowel. I was surprised to see the results of drilling
half the hole in the hardened axle and the other half in a cast
wheel but that is what I did. Needless to say new tires and tubes
were needed all around. The drawbar and all attaching braces were
bent. They must have done a lot of heavy work with the drawbar. The
bolts must have kept loosening up because all the bolts were welded
to the brackets, probably so they would not loosen. There were also
broken studs where the drawbar brace is supported on the rear end
cover and for that matter there were broken bolts and studs all
over the tractor. The foot brake locking rods were bent with broken
springs. New brake linings were needed, also new left brake drum. A
bearing in the steering box needed replacing. Springs in the over
center clutch were broken and the adjusting ring was broken in two
places. It needed a new clutch release bearing and pilot bearing.
The drag link was bent and had to be straightened. The radiator had
large holes in it and both tanks on the radiator were all dented
in, so I replaced them. The grille was bent and broken so I used
one from the parts tractor. The front axle and one of the steering
arms were bent and had to be straightened. The axle support was
also bent and the ball had loosened up so I had it welded. The
socket support for the axle wishbone was broken in half so I
replaced that. The tie rod was bent with all the grease fittings
broken off. As I said earlier the crankcase had ice in it so I was
suspicious of a cracked block which was a fact. It was cracked
between cylinders noticeable from the bottom only. The O-6 parts
tractor had a good block so I had the crank turned and put new
rings, bearings, and did a valve job on it. I did not put in a
sleeve set because the sleeves were still in good shape. Also, the
old motor had a terribly bent-up pan on it and the head had been
cracked and welded, in one of the worst welding jobs that I have
ever seen. The water pump on the old motor had the drive pins
broken off. I feel quite sure this motor had been run with these
pins broken from the way they were worn. You can just imagine how
hot that poor old engine was run. I put new seals in the
transmission and rear end and had to replace a few bearings. The
rear end casting had been broken through, probably from a broken
gear pushing through from the inside out. There is one tooth on the
bull gear that has a chip out of it so this probably all happened
about the same time. They had welded it from the inside and then
put a tin patch over it which was held in with something like a
seal-all. What a horrible looking job! I stripped all the gears out
of the rear end, turned it over, routed the crack out and welded
it, then filled it with body filler and smoothed it off and you
cannot tell that there was even a crack in it. All of the supports
for the platform and fenders were bent or broken. The P.T.O. shield
had a hole cut through the top of it with a cutting torch for who
knows why. The seat and the supporting pipe was bent from backing
into something or something running into the tractor. The hand
clutch lever had about 2′ side play so I had a bushing made for
it. The magneto kill switch was missing and the steering wheel was
all broken. The ammeter was broken and there was no wiring
whatsoever left on the tractor, not even battery cables. The
starter, carburetor, generator and magneto were also missing. The
radiator brace rod was never put back on when they worked on the
engine so that was missing as well as the clutch compartment cover
under the tractor. The fenders were all bent, torn, dented and
parts of them missing. This tractor was used and abused and abused
again, but with all this abuse the McCormick-Deering nameplate was
still on the front of the grille, even if it was bent and dented,
but salvageable. The crank was missing, but I was lucky to get a
crank with the parts tractor. I got the new decals from a Harvester
dealer in California and also a set from Mr. Hiniker. What would
appear to be a real easy thing to find was not. The hood and grille
are attached with 3/8‘ fine threaded
screws on the OS-6 tractors. I could easily find
3/8‘ coarse threaded screws, but fine
threaded was another thing. I finally found some with a little

It goes without saying that there was no battery. I purchased a
booklet published by Austin Farm Salvage which lists many salvage
yards around the country. I called everyone listed that had toll
free numbers and also the ones in the areas of the country that I
thought might have orchards looking for a pair of fenders. I found
two folks in New Hampshire that had OS-6, but neither of them would
sell their fenders. One of the fellows took his fenders off and let
me use them for a pattern. I found a guy in Massachusetts that
would make a pair of fenders for $3,000. I told him I did not want
the whole tractor made, just the fenders. I had a W-6 given to me
which is a parts tractor. The fenders were a little jammed up at
the bottom but not all that bad. It dawned on me that those fenders
could be altered to fit the OS-6 with a little doing to the inside
flat side of the fenders which I did and you cannot tell them from
the originals.

Well as the saying goes, ‘live and learn’, I guess you
would have to say never buy a ‘pig in a poke’. After all
the trials and tribulations, I have a good tractor that is not all
that common and I am real pleased to have it restored. I sure like
to hear those old four bangers purr. It is music to my ears and a
lot of you folks also, I am sure.

I would be interested in corresponding with other International
Harvester enthusiasts.

‘What a horrible looking job! I stripped all the gears out
of the rear end, turned it over, routed the crack out and welded
it, then filled it with body filler and smoothed it off and you
cannot tell that there was even a crack in it.’

  • Published on Jan 1, 1989
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