By Lauran Paine. Published in the N-News Winter 2015. Vol. 30 No. 1.
There are fifty odd years between these two pictures, but they’re the same tractor, same harrow and same driver. The tractor, a 1953 Jubilee, has been in the family the whole time. In the photo (right) I was in high school and my dad had only recently purchased the tractor. I’m guessing it was around 1961-62. (The dealer had painted it blue to look like one of the newer Ford tractors. They even painted the battery, coil and radiator hose!)
I restored the tractor a few years ago, and now use it for parades and teaching the grandkids about old tractors. Since the tractor has been in the family so long, I did what I call a “working restoration” as opposed to a “show restoration.” I wanted to keep the personality of the tractor intact.
The steering wheel had some cracks in it, but I didn’t change it because I knew all the hands that have touched it. Ditto the gearshift knob. The proof meter was faded, but I didn’t change that either – I knew all the eyes that have looked at it. The left footrest was bent from when my dad hit a stump; after all these years, my left foot wouldn’t feel correct if it wasn’t canted over.
My dad was a rancher, not a mechanic. He once installed a new coil on the tractor. The bracket holding the coil was adjustable but that was just way too much “monkey business” for him so he just pounded a little wedge of wood in the bracket to hold the coil. When I restored the tractor I put in all new electrical stuff, including a new coil – and I pounded that little wedge of wood right back in place. To my knowledge, the engine has never been touched internally. It’s still a 6-volt system and it starts every time.
The tractor wasn’t just about work on the farm. It was about hayrides and picnics, too. I can’t think of those things and not smile. All of the connections I’ve mentioned don’t make me melancholy – they make me happy. They are re-connections.
I just recently restored the harrow and it was fun to complete the original picture again. It’s a Dearborn-Towner Model 11-29. (I got that info from an N-News equipment brochure I ordered.) I painted it with Rustoleum Sunrise Red #7762 (also with guidance from an N-News article). I think I’m the only thing in the picture that is not restorable.
When I drive the tractor, the sights, sounds, vibration and even the rattle of the harrow take me right back to 1961. Magical, I say! Old tractors are good for the soul!
Lauran Paine is an unabashed fan of N-News and a regular contributor. Check him out at www.thunderbumper.com.
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