Beginning the Work

A tractor for me to work on here in Texas seemed like a gift.  And work on it I would.  I started by sorting through all of the various nuts and bolts that were in bags or cans along with the parts.  Not knowing where they may have come from, I diligently cleaned them and grouped them by size in plastic baggies.  Some I recognized – the oil pan bolts and the bolts to attach the fan to the water pump, for instance.  My initial cleaning was done with parts solvent, a rag, a hand-held wire brush, and an old toothbrush.  That got off most of the hard grease and grime but didn’t do much for the rust.  I later found that a wire wheel brush, chucked in a variable speed drill did an excellent job of thoroughly cleaning up the nuts and bolts as well as various other small parts.


I also sat down and made an initial list of the parts I knew I would need.  The list ranged from a new clutch assembly to all the electrical wiring, gauges, hoses, a new steering wheel, and down to the rubber boots for the tie rod ends.  This was sent off to my friend, Ron Kingland – a fellow Ford tractor restorer, Tisco dealer, and invaluable source of reliable information during my whole project. 


Equipment that would allow me to work on a machine of this size was something else I would need.  Not being set up to move and work on major engine parts, I needed a lift, an engine stand, and some big wrenches.  Prior to picking up the tractor, I had been watching the local sales flyers and purchased a two ton hydraulic lift that folded for ease of storage, a 1,000# capacity engine stand, a set of large open-end wrenches, and a ¾” drive socket set.  Harbor Freight Tools did well by me.


My main source of inspiration for doing all of this comes from my late father, who never hesitated to dig into something mechanical.  If he didn’t immediately know how to repair something that involved a machine, he’d figure it out.  He had a gift for repairing anything with gears and engines.  While I may not be fully blessed with that gift, I’ve also learned that you’ll never completely figure it out unless you take it apart. 


Another source of inspiration comes from Roger Welsch, Nebraska philosopher, former college professor, tractor hobbyist, and author of many books, including several on tractor restoration[3].  While not intended to be an authoritative resource on tractor repair, they are written with humor and wit blended into some very practical advice for a would-be tractor restorer. 


In his tractor books, Roger writes about some of the specialized tools he uses.  One in particular was a set of taps and dies used not to cut threads, but to restore existing threads that may have been damaged or rusted.  I immediately recognized their value, but had never seen such a set.  On a whim, I e-mailed Roger to question him on the source of theses tools.  To my surprise, he responded, almost immediately and I was able to locate a set.  Roger calls them “thread chases”; Sears calls them a “40 pc. Re-threading Set”.


Once I had my miscellaneous, unidentified nuts and bolts sorted by size and thread configuration it was time to start tearing down the tractor itself.  I began to get a clue of what might lie ahead with the front axle.  One of the spindle housings had what could only be described as a tear in it and the front hubs were painted white, of all colors.  Where had this tractor been and where had these parts come from?  The more I dug into it the more evident it became that this tractor had been “rode hard and put up wet”.
 I was beginning to realize what a job I had ahead of me.

[3] Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them, c. 1995, Busted Tractors and Rusty Knuckles, c. 1997, Love, Sex and Tractors, c. 2000, and Old Tractors Never Die, c. 2001 are four in my library.

Subpages (1): Tearing it Down