Second Act for a Fox

1974 Fox 6644 corn chopper undergoes a thorough restoration

| September 2009

When Doug Malueg decided to restore his father’s 1974 Fox 6644 4-wheel drive corn chopper, he had no idea what would cause him the most difficulty.

After all, he had previously restored a 1972 Chevy 3/4-ton pickup, a 1974 Pontiac Ventura Sprint, a 1970 Chevy SS Nova and a 1966 Corvette, as well as a 1976 John Deere 2440 and 1972 International Harvester 666 tractor.

You’d think the biggest headache would come from rebuilding the Fox, which he stripped down to some 500 individual parts. In fact, says the Marion, Wis., man, the real challenge came in re-creating the final look, which involved 47 different stickers. These included danger, caution, lubrication, starting and Fox 4WD stickers. “I took pictures of my machine and two other identical ones in the area to get the total collection of decals,” he says. “Some of mine were worn off, and some of the stickers on those other two machines were worn off too, but I got pictures of an entire set.” He turned to the Fox Sign Co. (no relation to the Fox Tractor Co.) for the decals, laying a tape measure beside each decal so the company would have an exact sense of size.

At first, Doug says, the people at Fox were reluctant to tackle the project because it was different from anything they’d done. Plus, all the decals were in different fonts and sizes. “Eventually they accepted it as a challenge,” he says, “and I couldn‘t be happier with the results.”

The other big challenge was construction of the yellow spout. “You can’t buy that part anymore, and nobody is making it,” he says. “So I took one off another machine, took it all apart, and cut everything to within a 16th of an inch. When I had a duplicate made, I put the original back on that chopper, and painted mine. It took me two weeks of nights and weekends to make it.”

Three generations work with corn harvest

Doug’s history with the corn chopper actually began with his grandfather Anton Malueg, who custom harvested for area farmers from the 1930s through the 1950s. After retiring, Doug’s father, Jim, drilled grain, and picked and chopped corn for local farmers. At first he used a Fox Super D self-propelled chopper. Later, when most farmers were buying their own equipment, he turned to the Fox 6644 to open up cornfields for local farmers. He’d cut one or two rounds (consisting of three rows per round) around the outside of the field and several through the middle so harvesting equipment wouldn‘t run down rows of good corn.

When Jim Malueg was laid low by cancer in 2005, Doug and his brother, Dennis, decided to follow in their father’s footsteps, just to fill in. “Farmers were calling and asking if anybody was going to do the service of opening up the fields,” Doug recalls. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.’ I did it to get through the year, because we thought Dad was going to get better.” But Jim Malueg died Oct. 26, 2005, a day before his 76th birthday.

Doug had grown up with the Fox, but had not run it for 20 years. “It was like riding a bike,” he says. “But I’ll tell you, it was tired iron. You had to go real slow and baby it and do in-field repairs to get through the day. Chains and belts and hoses broke regularly.”

Drawing a line in the sand

After that fall, he decided he wasn’t going to do that kind of work again with a poorly conditioned implement that had more than 4,000 hours on it. “It took forever to get anything done,” Doug says. So he first went after the corn head, with no idea that it would turn out to be so complicated.

When he and his sons, Nathan, now 24, and Logan, now 18, took off the sheet metal, they discovered all the parts were deeply worn and the frame was cracked. They stripped it completely, sandblasted the unit down to the frame, found new parts, and made a rotisserie jig to hang the frame on, making it easier to rebuild the corn head.