| August/September 1994

  • Yard tractor

  • Rare tractor

  • Yard tractor
  • Rare tractor

37 Cepp Road Perkiomenville, PA 18074

See the before and after photos of a yard tractor I recently restored. I found this gem discarded at the local recycling center. It's a 1965 Work Bird, model 65-1044, serial #0100-131. The engine is a Wisconsin TR-10D which I converted to battery ignition.

According to Ray at Ray's Mowers, Boyertown, Pennsylvania, it was made by a company that also produced a snowmobile called Snow-Bird, and a tiller called Earth-Bird. The company was acquired by Yard-Man, which became part of MTD. I spoke to customer service at MTD. They recalled the names, but when I sent a photo of the Work-Bird, it was unfamiliar to them.

The tractor was in excellent condition mechanically, but had been stored outside for many years and when the sheet metal was sandblasted, it looked like lace. The engine wasn't stuck, and needed only minor shop work to rebuild. The original colors I was able to find matched Ford tractor white & blue. The finished tractor is definitely something different to drive. It steers by the rear wheels, which are so well balanced I can lift the rear of the unit with one hand. The steering wheel goes 4 turns lock to lock, so the knob comes in handy. I found driving around the driveway to be fun, but soon discovered why we don't see more of these tractors around.

I grow and sell Christmas trees, and when my John Deere broke down I decided to put the Work-Bird into service. Well, driving in undefined circles is one thing, but pulling a trailer around rocks and trees with this crazy rear steering is definitely an art that takes time to master. People thought I was drunk!

As for accessories, there was a yoke in front to attach a mower, which would have definitely required a driver to hold the rear wheels down. I would be interested to find a mower, or better yet, a plow blade. The tractor wasn't a stripped-down model. It has lights, a cigarette lighter, differential lock-up, a very comfortable seat on soft springs, and an outlet for 12 volt appliances.

Scott Touchton
3/5/2009 1:25:59 PM

My father lived in your neck of the woods and owned one of these from about 1967 to 1985 (he bought it used for about $600). A wonderful machine, he had the mower and the snow blower attachment. He also pulled a 24' wooden boat around the backyard with it. Unfortunately the lockup mechanism on the axle drive dissassembled internally in the transmission and caused serious damage. Pretty much all the gears had to be replaced and the replacements were not hardened. Also suffered from a cracked flywheel, but that was solved by machining a band that was expanded with heat and then contracted while cooling to hold the flywheel tight. (Yours doesn't have a cracked flywheel... does it??) Someday I hope to find the guy he sold it to and buy it back.


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