The Jump Start Tractor

| December/January 1991

4057 Intertown Rd. Petoskey, Michigan 49770.

Amid 1935, farming methods changed from real horse power to tractor horsepower on a farm in Emmet County, Michigan and in 1985 a McCormick-Deering tractor brought back memories of that passage, for Burt Richardson. At six years of age Burt was attracted to a new tractor and could not wait to drive the new machine. This appeal for an F-12 tractor eventually lead to the purchase and restoration of a similar tractor fifty years later.

The farm was located in Resort Township and owned by his uncle, whom Burt lived with at the time. The best anyone can remember, the F-12 was delivered in the spring of the year, it was gray in color, had red steel wheels and the breather intake protruded a good three feet above the hood. The horse drawn equipment was modified so the tractor could be of service and the breather was cut down, thus the tractor could be driven into the shed.

Burt is not certain when he first started driving. Regardless of age he was not big enough to rotate the crank to start the tractor and someone else would start it for him. One afternoon while disking a field bordering a fence line he collided with a fence post and the tractor conked out. Burt, being an ingenious young man engaged the crank in a horizontal position, climbed upon the tractor frame next to the radiator and jumped on the crank. The tractor started and from that day on, the starting restraint no longer applied.

Five decades later Burt came across a 1935 McCormick-Deering F-12. He told me he would buy it if I would restore it. The next thing I knew we were the proud owners of a tractor that didn't look too bad on the outside. The internal workings were a different story. We found rust on the inside of the oil pan after the oil (sludge) was removed and without going into further detail, we knew there was a problem. Another F-12 was bought for parts and again we found problems, but most depressing of all, we still did not have enough good parts to build a tractor. Two years later a third F-12 was purchased and this one had a sound engine. The choice parts from the three tractors were assembled into one. International gray paint was applied and Burt could not wait to drive the newly restored tractor.

A few days later the tractor was ready for a test run. I asked Burt to reenact the jump start procedure. He respectfully declined and does not recommend that anyone else try this unorthodox method. Burt started the tractor in compliance with the owner's manual and he was off for a jaunt around the corn field behind my house. With the exception of a carburetor adjustment, the tractor ran fine.