The 1960 Ford 641-L Workmaster

George Heinrich’s Ford 641-L Workmaster propane tractor stands out in a crowd.

| December 2017

  • George Heinrich.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • This view of George’s Workmaster tractor helps show how well it was painted using the “rattle-can” method.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • George’s Workmaster tractor was in rough shape when he got it – but it would start and run.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • View of the operator’s area on the Ford 641-L Workmaster.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The grille on George Heinrich’s 1960 Ford 641-L Workmaster tractor shows the painstaking work that the owner put into restoring it.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Cold winter temperatures would make an LP tractor like George’s impractical in northern climes.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The propane tank on George’s 1960 Ford 641-L Workmaster signals that it’s a very rare tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler

George Heinrich was all of 6 years old when he fell in love with tractors. “Driving a Ford 2N tractor in the hay field, I always had my older brother with me as he and Dad did the hay using a hay loader,” he recalls. “It was my job to make sure the tractor straddled the windrow. I was so small I couldn’t shift, so I’d stand on the clutch to stop the tractor. When they were ready to go again, I’d step off the clutch and sit on the seat and drive it. It was so much fun. I really enjoyed it. I was a little kid doing a big person’s job.”

Years later, George’s older brother, Melvin, started farming with a Ford 9N, and George worked with him, using that tractor. George was attracted to Ford tractors early on. He used them as he farmed and enjoyed working on them.

Finding a 641-L Workmaster

When George and his wife, Evey, drove to visit her sister near New Vienna, Iowa, George spied an unusual-looking 600 series Ford tractor. “Every time we went by, it had never moved,” he says. “A few years later, I stopped and talked to the owner and asked if he wanted to sell it. But he wanted quite a bit of money, so I said I was going to pass.”

The unusual tractor was a 1959 Ford 641-L Workmaster propane tractor. The Heinrichs continued to pass the tractor on their trips to New Vienna. George stopped in one more time to ask if the owner would consider selling the tractor. “He said he would, but he’d raised his price,” George says. “I told him I’d give him the original price, and he settled for that.”   

Once George had the tractor back on his farm near Hastings, Minnesota, he realized the amount of work he would have to do to get it in running shape. “It was rusty and had been sitting outside for years, and had water in the crankcase,” he says. “The propane system was in pretty bad shape, although the engine was free and would run. So I cleaned up the engine on the outside and took care of a lot of the rust, as well as some bodywork.” Starting in 2015, it took him about two years to get it completely restored. 

Restoration underway

Having grown up on a farm and farming with his brother all his life, George figured he’d be able to get the tractor back into good shape. He had plenty of experience from previous projects, including Ford tractors. Time was the bigger issue: He was still working full time as a lab technician at 3M in St. Paul, Minnesota.

11/21/2017 11:31:24 AM

I now own a 1950 Farmall super A, restored. I use it to cultivate my corn. I'm now restoring a 1959 Ford 541 offset Workmaster.

11/21/2017 11:31:20 AM

I was about 6 when my dad put me on the Farmall A to cut harrow, while he plowed the field next to me with the 8N, Hew would put it in 2nd gear, let out the clutch and hop off, all I had to do was steer, and shut off when done. I was dad's #1 farmhand!


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