W-40 ready to be restored. In the picture is my brother, Duffy Vandoorne.
346 McDiarmid Drive, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada 7RB 2H4
My story began on Boxing Day, December 26th, 1991.
My brother and his wife were visiting and I was showing them pictures of different tractors that I have restored. He told me that he knew where there was a W-40 McCormick-Deering on steel; he had seen it while deer hunting in the Turtle Mountains. Turtle Mountains are a ridge of rolling knolls between North Dakota and Manitoba, and the International Peace Garden is located in the Turtle Mountains.
The tractor was originally owned by George Griffith, who did bull dozing with a Caterpillar and the W-40 was used on the breaking plow. During the 1940s, the W-40 was left and parked on the George Schoonbaert farm. Needless to say, I just had to see this tractor. I picked up my brother Duffy. We were only able to get within a quarter of a mile with my 4 x 4 Ford truck, because of so much snow. We proceeded the rest of the way on foot.
Having a camera along, I was able to take some pictures. It was a rough looking tractor, and naturally, it had seized. The radiator cap was missing, so the squirrels and chipmunks used the radiator for storage. The fenders were torn and bent from tree branches and stumps that had grown up around the lugs. What a challenge! But I really wanted this tractor.
Finding the owner was the next step. The Griffiths had both passed away, but they had a married daughter in Edmonton, however, no one knew her married name. On May 20th my brother phoned to report there was not much progress with the search, though an aunt had been found and she was away south on a holiday. So he was anxiously waiting for her return home.
Sunday, June 30, 7:30 a.m. the phone rang; it was my brother calling to say the tractor was mine! When could I come and get it? How about Monday, I asked. Not a good day for my brother, who runs a golf course, as Monday was a holiday and very busy for him. So early Tuesday morning July 2nd, 1991, was the day.
After picking up my brother we drove to the place where the tractor sat. Two inches of rain had fallen the day before, but we had no trouble getting to the tractor which was in a bit of a gully. My winch would not pull the tractor out of the ground, so we put a cable over the back wheel, hooks on the lugs, spun both back wheels and finally got the front end to move. We got it on the trailer and chained down. My 4 x 4 had a real workout and some rough use due to the rain and terrain where the tractor had been sitting for so long. My brother went ahead to find the best way out and he stepped in a big cow patty, a fresh one, so we had a good laugh. Out to the road at last, and soon onto pavement and no trouble from there on.
I started restoring on July 6thvery rusty it's going to be a big job. On July 18th, I started on the motor which was in terrible shape with one sleeve split, one pitted badly and a flat crank. On August 4th, I purchased another W-40 at Rapid City, Manitoba, and between the two I hope to get the tractor restored. I took the crankshaft, pistons and two sleeves out of the Rapid City tractor (which had a split block) and put them in the Turtle Mountain engine. I put a W-9 starter on the tractor as it is a truck engine and it had a ring gear, which made it much easier than cranking these big engines.
I started the engine on Saturday; September 20th. I had to belt it to get it going. The oil pressure is good and it sounds really good. This is the thirteenth tractor that I have restored and the most difficult.
However, with a new coat of red paint and decals, it does look pretty sharp! I will be taking it to our antique show in August. My father-in-law, who will be 86 years old on his next birthday, is very helpful in timing the engines. He is currently working on a DC-4 Case for himself.