1948 Massey-Harris Model 20
785 S 200 W Bountiful, Utah 84010
It all came about in a coffee shop while shooting the breeze with the boys. While visiting, one of the old guys said he had a John Deere on some property in Idaho. You know how old guys are, so I didn't pay much attention. This same guy mentioned the tractor again about a year later, and he also said there was a Massey-Ferguson, but that the John Deere was better.
I got to talking about the tractors at breakfast with some other boys on a Sunday at Our Place, the favorite breakfast stop. They said they would love to go on a rescue mission and that they hadn't been on one for over a year. The next weekend my wife and I drove to Idaho with the directions the old guy gave me. I didn't find anything but the entrance to his property.
During the next week I talked to the old guy again. I told him where I had gone and he said I was about 50 yards away from the tractors.
I drove back to Idaho the next weekend in my 4 x 4 so I could drive on the dirt roads and through the water hole which consumed the road in some areas. As we rounded a curve I could see up on a hill there sat a 1948 Massey Harris model 20. And over the next hill was a 1941 John Deere model B.
I went home and called Kirk Carey and asked if he was ready to get them. He said yes and rounded up some of the boys. We recruited Steve Phillips with his truck and trailer and our friend Richard Thomas. Kirk brought his truck and trailer, his daughter Angie and her boyfriend, Mike.
The day we went everyone was so excited that we skipped breakfast. We headed for Red Rock, Idaho. After we went through Preston, Idaho, everyone was asking, 'Are we there yet?' I said, 'Just around the next curve,' and there we were in Red Rock.
The town is named for a big red rock which is a monument on the historic Lake Bonneville shoreline. I told Kirk to turn on the dirt road just before the rock and Steve followed. We went around a couple of curves and up a hill. I said make a right at the wheat field and everyone in the truck asked at once, 'How did you find this place?' I answered 'it wasn't easy.'
Well, we got to the gate of the property and went down the hill, through the mud, and around the mountain to the other side. Way up on the hill was the Massey. We dropped the trailer and pulled it off the hill to flat land. On the way down the hill, I put it in gear. The tires skidded, telling me it was frozen up, I guess. We loaded it on the trailer and went after the John Deere. It was on the side of a steep hill. We hooked up to it, but I just walked along the high side while we pulled it to flat land.
Steve loaded it on his trailer, then made a deal with me to buy it. I said O.K. Besides, what would I do with two tractors ? After we were loaded and ready, Kirk and I started for the gate around the mountain and into the mud hole, where we sank both truck and trailer, to the axles. We had a winch on the trailer so we hooked to Steve's truck several times and pulled ourselves out backwards. Kirk tried the mud hole again and made it through, making big ruts.
Steve with his truck and trailer took no chance. He got a big run through the mud in the same ruts that Kirk made, drenching me with mud and water as I watched. Pretty stupid, huh? We made it home late, but in one piece. Later I found out that when Steve and Richard were riding home with the tractor on the back, Richard bought the John Deere from Steve.
The next day at home, I pulled the gas tank off the Massey. I found it to be half full of bird nest. I gladly handed the tank to my daughter Brandi, who volunteered to clean it out.
Next I pulled the head off the 124 cubic inch Continental engine and filled the cylinders with transmission fluid. I then let it sit for a week or so to soak. Luckily, the engine broke free. As I reassembled the engine, Brandi was still working on the bird's nest in the tank.
I then flushed out the engine water jacket. Bugs had made a home there, too. The radiator had to be flushed to remove the little black bugs from it. Brandi finally got done with the tank. I never knew you could put that much straw in a metal can that size. I tried turning the engine over with the starter and found out the clutch was also frozen. I pulled the plate off the bottom of the clutch housing. Then I loosened the pressure plate bolts and pried out on the pressure plate. I ran a wide hack saw blade between the flywheel and the clutch disc. I found the bad spot and the clutch came loose.
With everything back together now, I mounted some old tires the boys had given me. I felt I was ready to try this thing. I had my brother Lonnie help, and we pulled the tractor up and down the city streets trying to get it to start. Finally it started smoking and popping, and after a few adjustments it ran by itself.
The Massey had barely enough power to pull itself up my driveway that is on a little slope. After running it a little for a few days, the smoke eventually went away and it seemed to gain power. All this effort was just in time for our Antique Engine Club Show in September.
The boys and the Old Guys could hardly believe I had it running and at the show. Most had never seen a Massey-Harris model 20. They talked me into entering the tractor pulls. I couldn't believe it, but I took first place in my class. Needless to say, I was excited to have a full size tractor. Through the winter I decided to finish this project by doing a restoration job on it. I got the correct decals, side panels and battery cover from Stiner tractor parts on the Internet.
Then in the spring I got really busy. I took the tractor to work with me and disassembled sixty percent of it with the help of my employer, Dewey Petersen. Dewey helped by making hub pullers to pull the hubs that had been on for the life of the Massey. He also welded the front spindle, which was in three pieces. Welding cast iron like this requires an experienced welder who knows what he is doing. Dewey is just that. In fact, Dewey helped me a lot while the tractor was in the shop.
Next came the paint job. My friend Gordon Hancock did the sand-blasting and painting. Nice job, Gordon!
I got it reassembled and all together two days before the Health Days celebration and Parade in Smithfield, Utah. Kirk hauled it up to the parade for me. It was a big hit with all the kids, young and old.
Next I took it to our club swap meet and show in June, where it was also a big hit with everyone. I have owned it for 10 months now and it is my first full size tractor. Hope to have many more.
Special thanks to Dewey, Lonnie, Gordon, Kirk, Richard, Steve and everyone who helped me.