Well, it's that time of year when we all get busy
wrapping up those summer projects and begin thinking about getting ready to take on
the chores that old man winter is going to bring our way. With the thought of
all that up and coming fun in the back of your mind, maybe it's time to think
about getting yourself a project that will keep you busy and entertained over
the winter months. Perhaps you picked up the old tractor bug at the local Fall
Fair recently or you have been checking out all the cool tractors here on
Tractorforum. This is as good a time as any to try your hand fixing up an old
tractor for yourself! Whether it is an antique, vintage unit, or just an old
tractor that catches your eye or brings back some memory from yesteryear, it
can be a fun and rewarding task. Do a little research and pick your project
wisely. If this is your first project, the thought of a restoration like this
can be quite intimidating, so pick something that is relatively complete and is
easy to source parts for. You don't want to get discouraged with your project
early in the restoration process because you are trying to restore something that
is extremely difficult to source parts or information on. I could have just posted two
pictures, a before and an after, instead of writing about all the goings on in
between, but you would have missed all the fun parts, and perhaps jumped into a
project that you really never put much thought into. That's not what
restoration is all about. It may seem like a daunting task, but one that will
be well worth your while when complete.
Once you have made the decision to take on a restoration
project, there are a few things that you may want to consider before you begin
the process. Will you have the time and the energy to commit to the project,
and do you have the funds put aside, or the resources needed to finance your
project as you go. The project itself can take many months, and may involve
many hours searching the internet for those hard to find bits and pieces, or
scouring yard sales or swap meets in the hopes of finding that special or rare
piece that no one else seems to have. If those missing parts are impossible to
find, or some are damaged beyond repair, you may have to consider making them
yourself, or have them fabricated. That's just the nature of the beast! Another
great venue is to chat with a few of the people on the Forum. Ask questions and
get to know some of the folks that have a restoration or two under their belt. Who
knows, you may get some great tips, some leads on good places to get parts and
make a few friends along the way. If you have the right mind set before you
start, all this searching and scavenging can be just as much fun and rewarding as
the hands on restoration itself.
Well, if I've managed to keep your attention so far, it seems to me that you are pretty serious about taking on a project of your very own. Here are a few more considerations and a rough idea of what you'll need and what to expect as you move forward.
First of all, make sure you have a suitable place to work on your project. The space
should be clean and dry, have sufficient lighting and should afford access to
your tractor from all angles. Don't forget the head room, as well as a source
of heat if required.
Source out some original or reproduction manuals and parts books if you can.
Understanding the operation of your tractor and its systems will be invaluable
information during the project. Parts books and Shop Repair manuals may have
great exploded views of the different systems and components that you will be
dealing with, and an Operators manual will surely educate you on how to use
them and the tractor itself. Take note of any warnings or safety information
that these manuals may contain.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Take pictures, lots of them. Take pictures
of your tractor before you begin taking it apart. Take them from as many angles
as you think is necessary, and then take a couple of more. Take pictures of
parts and components before you remove them from your project, before you take
them apart and while you are taking them apart. These photos will undoubtedly
be invaluable once you begin reassembling your tractor.
Mark, label and organize your parts as you disassemble your tractor. Keep each of the
components together with all of its nuts and bolts and any other parts that are
relevant to that component. Meaningful labels and descriptions will definitely
help you during the reassembly, and may be very helpful if new components are
needed to replace those that are beyond repair.
Take notes! Set yourself up a book or binder for the project, and take notes on what
you have done, the order in which parts were removed, what parts are in which
box and any quirky things that need to be addressed that you know you will
never remember. There are some tricky things out there like different length
bolts that you don't notice until they are all in the box! Things like a long
starter mounting bolt that if placed in the wrong position, will most likely
pin your flywheel and prevent it from turning when you go to turn your engine
over! As you are doing the dismantling now would be a good time to
jot down in your notes what gauges came from what area on the dash, what
condition they are in, and whether they need replacing or rebuilding.
Now that we have pondered the stuff that will help keep us organized, the next area
to consider working on would be the drive train. If this part of the project is
not repairable or replaceable, it doesn't make sense to move on. Address the engine, the
transmission/hydraulics and the differential/rear end. If your tractor is in
relatively good condition, maybe all you will need to do is clean and degrease
your drive train, and change all the oils and filters and give it a proper tune
up. If you are looking at a complete tear down, consider an engine, transmission and hydraulics rebuild. If you are not comfortable with this part of the project, farm it out to a rebuild or machine shop. It will be worth having it gone over during your restoration
rather than having to tear your wonderful project apart once it's completed!
Have a look and evaluate the condition of all of your tractors body parts. Dismantle and repair all of the sheet metal and prep it all for paint. Make sure you
do a good job at rust removal. There is nothing worse than a great tractor
restoration that starts rusting away shortly after you finish it. If you are
not comfortable with painting your own tractor, or have never done it before,
you may want to leave this part to the professionals. If you do want to do your
own paint work, be sure you have a good, clean, well-ventilated area to do it
with great lighting. Lighting is as important as good ventilation. You will
also need the proper equipment such as a sprayer, compressor and most
importantly the proper safety equipment such as a good respirator, eye
protection and the like. Don't forget to keep the paint area clean and dust
free and protected from the elements. I can only tell you, from experience,
that once you have finished laying down the paint and are standing back to
admire your work, a fly will come out of nowhere and land right in the wet
paint. They just do that!
Is the electrical system working? Check the lights and replace as required. Also check the switches and make sure that they are replaced if necessary. This would be a good time to address the charging system as well. Are you running a 6 volt or a 12 volt system? Are you going to keep a 6 volt system to keep your project authentic, or are you considering up grading to a 12 volt system to make your tractor easier and more convenient use and repair? These are things to ponder during your restoration.
You also need to address the brakes. The brakes need to function properly to be
able to stop your tractor with or without a load on it. You don't need to be
running over pedestrians with your pride and joy while you are participating in
your local parade or Fair! Brakes are also a very integral part of a tractors
ability to make sharp turns at the end of your driveway while plowing snow, or
out in the field plowing your fields.
A few other considerations during your restoration would be to check your tires. Repair or replace any tires and / or tubes that are damaged or don't hold air. Also inspect the tires for cracking or checking. Depending on the severity you could have a tire replacement in your future!
Do a final check on the overall condition of your tractors individual components.
This could include things like the muffler, radiator cap or anything else that
you may have overlooked during the rebuild.
Well, hopefully this will help you not only to decide whether you want a project or
not, but once you do make the plunge, help you along the way to a great and
Once you have completed your restoration, enjoy it, show it off and just have fun
with it. Put it to work if that was the motive for your restoration! Enjoy
updating your new friends on the forum with your progress, and join in the chit
chat and banter of the thousands of tractor enthusiast out here just waiting to
hear about your project. Remember, we all look forward to seeing some of those
photos that you took of that fine restoration!!
Remember, do your research, choose your project wisely and enjoy your
accomplishments as you move forward with your rebuild.