RESTORATION OF THE MONTH
Reader tells of restoring an old IH
Photos by Dan Schmitt
Iran across this tractor in 1989, sitting under a large pine tree, along with several other tractors and machinery. I didn't stop and inquire at that time, as I was on another tractor retrieving mission. That's another story, however. I soon went back and inquired about the tractor. The man ask me in and poured a cup of coffee. We talked, and he said he used the tractor in his gardening operation years ago. He didn't want to sell at this time. I made him an offer, anyhow, and he said the price was very good and he would give me a call. I stopped in a year or so later, but still no sale. I checked with him off and on for several more years, then in 1999, they had an auction. I purchased the tractor for half of my first offer on a very hot day. A man with a 955 cat loader helped me get it out from the resting place where it had sat for over 24 years. The tractor was so sticky from pine sap and needles I had to throw my gloves away. I got it home and in the shed it went. A few months later, I pulled the head and found the engine in poor condition. It took me several months of tracking down part to find out if it was worth restoring. I had always wanted a small tractor to use as a chore tractor. I pulled the engine; it wasn't stuck, but very worn out. The oil pan was full of water, the oil pump was bad. The crank was also pitted, the valves were in bad condition, and the clutch and pressure plate were bad. I boiled the block clean, and hand-cleaned all the other parts. At this point I set everything aside. My spring work was coming in. I have a small welding and repair business.
During the summer I purchased a wrecked 'B' IH for parts. The 'B' had the center casting broken and had been repaired and also one final drive was broken. I tore the engine down and, luckily, found some useful parts. I used the valves, oil pump, clutch, and pressure plate, pistons, and some other parts. The pistons were oversize. I bored the block to fit these pistons, had the crank shaft turned and polished the cam shaft, ground the valves and seats and nurled guides, new rings, bearings, gaskets, etc., and put the engine together. I put new bearings and seals in the transmission and rear-end, new bonds and seals in the final drives.
Then the body work. The fenders had holes rusted in them which I repaired. The grill was good after a little work. The hood was bad but I found another one that needed a little work. After beating it around bit, it turned out to be a great fit. I replaced one rear wheel, repaired the other one and put on a new steering wheel. Then I cleaned, blasted and put together the rest of the tractor. It looked great painted IH red, with all new tires. It runs very well, too. I use it once or twice a week to haul wood.
The tractors we have restored are all IH. A Fairway 12, 0-12 Fulldress, I-12, W-12, F-12 Waukasha, Shop Mule A-14V, F20, T-20, A-I, and W-4.
Dan and his wife, Martha, are Farm Collector readers from Omaha Nebraska.