Items for a Smooth Tractor Salvage Operation

Tractor salvage operations are made easier with a bit of preparation


| September 2011



McCormick-Deering 10-20 crawler

Rescuing old tractors, like this McCormick-Deering 10-20 crawler, can be smooth sailing if you come prepared.

Heading out on a tractor salvage operation? A bit of planning saves time and trouble. 

Keep this checklist in mind:

Fuel. All really old vehicles run on gasoline; five gallons is plenty. We carry gasoline in sturdy five-gallon military cans. Gas cans made of tin and plastic are unsafe to be transported in a vehicle. Even a major fender bender can cause them to rupture.

Engine lubrication. Engine oil and gear oil can be transported without concern. A case of 20-weight engine oil is easy to carry along and proves adequate both in volume and viscosity (at least for temporary running) for any engine being salvaged.

Two five-gallon cans of water. You’ll almost never need that much but sometimes a vehicle’s cooling system is so compromised that water doesn’t stay in it very long. Take plenty, and you’ll be able to add more as needed.

Batteries (6- or 12-volt). If the vehicle you’re working on is a crank-start with magneto, you can ignore this. But if the retrieval vehicle was originally battery equipped, take a good battery of proper voltage and good jumper cables. Take a modern 12-volt battery jumper box even if you have a good 12-volt battery for a 12-volt vehicle. Extended difficulty in starting a long dormant engine often saps more than one electrical source before you get the engine running.

Tow strap. Essential for getting wheeled vehicles running. Often a tow works when a starter fails to get things running.