From the Ground Up: The Challenge of Implement Restoration

Woody Cone offers his experience with a couple of challenging implement restorations.

Restored Deering mower

The restored Deering mower.

Photo courtesy Woody Cone

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I usually restore antique tractors, typically John Deere. When I got the chance to buy a really nice but rusty antique Deering mowing machine, I thought, “wouldn’t it be neat to try and make that look like it just came off the showroom floor?” So I went online to see if I could find out what it would have originally looked like.

I bought the machine and dismantled it so that I could clean and paint each individual piece. I made a swath board from a piece of oak that I’d had forever. The drawbar was a problem. The one that came on it was a hardwood 2-by-4, but it was a long way from looking like new. I didn’t have a hardwood 2-by-4, but I did have a piece of oak that was a 1-by-8 board. So I split it down the middle and glued the two halves together to make a 2-by-4.

I sandblasted the parts that would fit in the sandblaster and cleaned everything else with a wire brush on an offset grinder. I painted the parts and then tried to reassemble them without scratching the paint. I think it came out looking pretty good. In the end, I had no place to store the mower under cover so I put it up for sale. I would have loved to keep it, but there is a lot of satisfaction just knowing what I did.

This year I decided to restore a corn sheller I’d had for several years. When I first acquired this sheller, I put it by my shed and covered it with a cheap tarp. Two years in a row the spring runoff backed up and put the sheller under about 4 feet of water. Then the tarp went to pieces and the sheller sat out in the New England weather for another three or four years.

The bottoms of the legs and feet were totally gone. I decided to totally dismantle it and replace all the wood. A friend with a sawmill made me some oak 2-by-3’s to use for the frame. All of the joints are mortise and tenon with wooden pegs.

As near as I could tell, the framework should have been painted green. I just couldn’t bring myself to paint that beautiful oak. Later I had a hard time painting the pine but after I stained that, it didn’t look so good. So I painted it as close as I could to the color that I found under the mold on the original one.

The feed tray mounted to the back looked almost like a factory afterthought, so I made this one out of pine and stained it to look almost homemade. The metal parts were removed, cleaned and painted, using Rustoleum hammered copper paint.

The two rails on top were made from a piece of cherry wood. The unfinished piece of wood on top (under the wing nut apparatus) is made of ash. By turning the thumbscrew, the end inside will accommodate various cob sizes. FC

For more information:

- Woody Cone, 253 Milton Rd., Rochester, NH 03868; (603) 332-7084.