Windrower with a Mind of Its Own

Wyoming man tackles restoration of Mid-Century Owatonna windrower.

| January 2021

Photo courtesy of Larry Fulton
Larry Fulton with his 1953 Owatonna windrower. 

My thrill is taking a piece of equipment that has not run for a long time and bringing it back to life. My latest project is a self-propelled, all-mechanical 1953 Owatonna windrower built by Owatonna Mfg. Co., Owatonna, Minnesota.

An old friend, Mickey Fike, was raised on a farm near Shoshoni, Wyoming. He was cleaning up his father’s farmyard. This old windrower had been left behind the corrals. He hated to scrap it out. He knew I like to restore unique equipment and called to see if I wanted it. I told him, “sure!” but it would be a while before I could pick it up.

Photo by Larry Fulton
Loading the salvaged windrower in Shoshoni, Wyoming.

I finally retrieved the windrower and parked it out by my shop, where it sat for at least two years. I got tired of walking around it and started to restore it. First, I removed the Wisconsin V-4 engine, which was stuck. After much difficulty, I found a piston frozen solid in the cylinder and the connecting rod bent like a crank. As I searched for engine parts, a supplier had me look inside the block for damage. Sure enough, the block had a large crack. I now needed another V-4 engine equipped with a variable speed pulley. I found a replacement V-4 on Craigslist and brought the engine home.

Photo by Larry Fulton
The windrower’s original engine was damaged beyond restoration, so Larry found a replacement unit and modified the cover.


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