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TRACTOR RESCUE

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By Staff

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Massey-Harris Tractor
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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. 

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines