Restoration Projects Complicated by Elusive Parts

Search for missing elements adds challenge to restoration projects

| April 1999

Old farm tractors make wonderful restoration projects. Finding replacement parts, though, can present a vexing challenge. Obtaining machinery parts is one thing, but tracking other accessory items – like matching the paint color, decals, knobs, wheels and other elements – can be a real trick. 

If you're new to this business of restoring farm tractors and collectibles, meet Jeff Grodey of Indiana. He dove into his first tractor restoration project in 1996. His triumphs and defeats in restoring a Case SC tractor, and his current project (a Farmall H) offer valuable lessons.

"Well, I'm kind of new at this," Jeff says. "I started in December 1996, but I bought my first tractor, a 1949 Case SC, in 1990. I didn't realize what all this restoration stuff was about. I'm glad that I started with something easy. I am now knee-deep into restoring the Farmall, and have found that parts for this tractor are a little harder to come by."

Finding parts is perhaps the most challenging aspect of restoring farm tractors, or any farm collectible, for that matter. A collectible loses its value without original parts. The older a piece gets, the more forgiving the marketplace is for non-original spare parts. But the parts that were originally included are the most sought after.

"There have been numerous places that I have gotten parts," Jeff says. "I guess it depends on what part I am replacing. Parts such as sheet metal, original lights, battery box lid and radiator, I got at tractor junk yards and from junk dealers."

If you've compromised on original parts, and would like to find newly made usable pieces, going to a dealer or auto parts supplier is a good start. A rich resource for parts that can't be found at a junk yard or salvage dealer's is the dealer himself. Dealers usually have regular customers, and inventory spare parts for specialty items.