Tractors Are Good For the Soul!

By Lauran Paine. Published in the Winter N-News issue, January 2015, Volume 30 Number 1

Lauran Paine

Lauran Paine atop his 1953 Jubilee.

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.

harrow restoration

Restoring the harrow to match the tractor!

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 circa 1961 atop the 1953 Jubilee.

Lauran Paine circa 1961 atop the 1953 Jubilee. How little has changed… on the tractor at least!

Lauran Paine is an unabashed fan of N-News and a regular contributor. Check him out at www.thunderbumper.com.