The Tractor Trophy

By Staff
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Merna, Nebraska 68856

In a very conspicuous place of honor in our home, sits a lovely
trophy, which says on its base, ‘1st Place, Peoples Choice
Antiques’.

To the casual observer-fine-so Tom got a trophy, big deal-but I
know the history of the old tractor that won for him that honor.
While talking with a friend about some entirely different subject,
Tom’s attention centered on an old ‘stack’ of iron,
nestled comfortably in a sand bank. The entirely different subject
was immediately dropped and the usual question of an antique
tractor hunter, exploded: ‘Do you want to sell that?’ That,
turned out to be a 4 wheel drive 1930 Massey Harris. This was over
15 years ago.

At regular intervals, the question was often brought up, but the
friend owner didn’t want to sell, then later, after the father
died, the family treasured Dad’s tractor. The promise of
‘when we sell, you will have first chance’ kept hope alive
for Tom’s someday owning the it.

After the #1 son’s death, in August of 1984, the mother
called and asked, ‘Are you still interested in Bill’s old 4
wheel?’

I think the tracks still show where the machinery trailer and
pickup went around the corner, heading for the hills and this
treasure. After getting it home and upon examination of the
‘patient’ in the shop, many iron doctors would have placed
it in the category of hopeless, but not Tom- although it had a
cracked cylinder wall, a broken block, a cracked head and a damaged
pan, which the mice had used for their apartments, for no telling
how long. And that was just a few of the ailments. Really, not
being mechanically inclined, it looked pretty hopeless. But my Tom
saw over all this and the impossible just would take a little
longer.

We started looking for an OOC Hercules motor. I began to think
if there were two, ours was a wreck and the other was gone
somewhere, no one knew where. A kindly soul in Minnesota wrote to
us in response to our ad in GEM and finally another tractor man in
Kansas said he had some repairs he thought we could use.

Old tractors are such a nice hobby for a husband-I enjoy going
with him and enjoy the country scenery while he searches for
‘treasures’. Our trip to Kansas provided some much needed
material with which to start restoring Tom’s dream. One man
welded the block which he said might not hold, but it did. Another
young mechanic put a liner in the cylinder wall that he didn’t
know if it could be relied upon, but we did. The mice were evicted
and as yet, we have had no lawsuits. Our young mechanic also found
rings and fixed the head.

Then all was well but the magneto-dead or dying-and what color
to paint it. The Ertl Model Company had a color on their toy
tractor we thought might do, but they could not divulge their
business secret. Miles traveled netted very little concerning the
recharging of the magneto’s magnet or finding the right color
paint. In desperation, we tried our own method- 1 table spoon blue,
2 table spoons white, 1 tablespoon black and thus it went until at
last we found a color we wanted. He worked and changed and tinkered
and changed and finally it hit and sputtered and took off-it at
least was running, not good, but running. All this excitement came
on the 4th of July, 1986 just 10 days and one month short of two
years since it had followed us home. Now, to finish with the paint
job.

The local car club was having a Pioneer Day Car and Tractor
Show, September 6 and 7, 1986. As of about April or May, the plan,
in fact, a promise to display this treasure was made. We would be
there. Tom hasn’t found time to retire so he just works on
these ‘beauties’ in his spare time. As August days passed,
pressure was building. It came down to 2 weeks in which to paint 2
tractors-Fine!

He had also restored an International 1929 Regular and both were
now purring like kittens, but they were not painted and with one
week for each tractor, no problem, only what we didn’t figure
on was one week of rain. Now, it was 2 tractors for one week. Some
of the other farm work got put on hold and even though some of the
painting was done at night, September 4, it was completed and come
September 6, two beautifully restored tractors were parked inside
the show building and guess what-it was still raining.

The visitors at the Pioneer Show were requested to vote for
their favorite antique, and now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know
the rest of the story, and now you also know why I’m almost as
proud of Tom’s trophy as he is but he would never admit it, but
I can sure see his eyes light up when he looks at it, but not
nearly as much as when he looks at his former ‘basket
case.’

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