The Nuts and Bolts of His Passion: Restoring a John Deere 435

A Texas teenager wins the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition with the restoration of his 1960 John Deere 435.

| February 2019

The national champion and his finished project. “This is my first year and I was not expecting this,” Ricky Shilling says. “I was just expecting to come up here and do my best.” Photo courtesy of Ricky Shilling.

Inside a barn in Fayetteville, Texas, a small town halfway between Austin and Houston, Ricky Shilling spends his free time restoring antique tractors. At 16, he’s already accomplished at his craft.

In October 2018, Ricky was named grand champion of the Chevron-sponsored Delo Tractor Restoration Competition in Indianapolis, Indiana. He bested 11 of the country’s top high school-age tractor restoration enthusiasts competing for the title in Indianapolis as part of the annual national Future Farmers of America (FFA) convention.

The competition is open to high school students from all over the U.S. Entries were narrowed to 12 finalists who presented their projects to a panel of four tractor restoration experts. Each project was graded on the restoration process, safety precautions, results, documentation and oral presentation.

Steam cleaning the tractor’s transmission housing. Photo courtesy of Ricky Shilling.

As grand champion, Ricky won a $10,000 cash prize, which he intends to put toward his education. “The value of the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition goes well beyond bringing an antique tractor back to life,” said Dan Holdmeyer, Industrial and Coolants Brand Manager, Chevron Products Co. “This event is a combination of a vocational and business school experience that provides lessons our participants will take with them throughout their lives.”


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