'52 Farmall Cub Shines Again

A 1952 Farmall Cub "renewed" so it can be put back to work


| June 2003



Kate Will gleefully takes the helm of her 1952 Farmall Cub after starting the tractor for the first time since it ran 10 years ago

Kate Will gleefully takes the helm of her 1952 Farmall Cub after starting the tractor for the first time since it ran 10 years ago. The drawbar and decals haven't been applied yet.

This story really starts in December 2001, when my wife, Kate, and I were reading in bed one night. Looking through Guy Fay's book, Farmall Tractors in the 1950s, I had the page open to a picture of a Farmall Cub powering a grain mill with a flat belt. Kate happened to glance over her New York Times and exclaimed, "What kind of a cute tractor is that? We need to get one of those!" I was in the final stages of a 1942 Farmall H restoration, and was pleasantly surprised by Kate's enthusiasm, particularly since I already had two International Harvester Cub Cadet garden tractors in the shop. With future projects on hand like those, I didn't feel a great rush to find a Cub. Yet, I wanted to find a Cub before Kate changed her mind.

Earlier that same year, I met Sam Adams, a farmer who runs a rest home for tired iron deep in the east Texas piney woods near Tatum. Sam rescues old iron from the smelter, and International Harvester equipment is his specialty. While I was picking up an old Sidewinder shredder from Sam in February 2002, I mentioned to him that Kate wanted a Cub. Sam's face lit up. "Well I do have an old '52 that I got from some old boy who tried to fix its cracked head with J.B. Weld," he said with a grin. "I'd planned to get her running myself, but I already got enough Cubs around here."

Then he squinted my way and added, "I don't just sell my stuff to anyone, but I know that you will take good care of this old girl." I was in luck, because Sam is particular about to whom he sells old iron. He once refused to part with a set of beautiful, old wagon running gear after he learned that the buyer planned to use it as a yard ornament. I didn't make the trade then, but had about 2,000 miles to ponder that '52 Cub as I drove from Sam's place to our small farm in New Hampshire pulling the 1942 Model H and its Sidewinder on a gooseneck trailer.

Texas was my first stop after leaving Whittier, Calif., where Kate is president of Whittier College. My shop in Whittier is the garage at Wardman House, which is the president's residence at the college. Kate is rather fond of my penchant for old machinery, so the courtyard at Wardman House is often cluttered with tractors, implements and parts. In fact, the H was used several times as a centerpiece for dinners we held in the courtyard during its restoration. It's perfect for large barbecues.

As I drove through Columbus, Ohio, I realized that Sam's Cub was manufactured the same year Kate was born. (Trust me, I do have her kind permission to report this fact.) I looked over at Charlie, my four-legged companion who rides shotgun wherever I travel, and said, "Chuck, that's the right Cub for Kate." I sealed the deal with Sam by cell phone before I hit Mansfield, Ohio, and arranged to pick the tractor up on my return trip west.

A few weeks later in early March 2002, I was back in Texas, loading what I came to call "Kate's Cub" on the trailer for the return trip to Whittier. I wasn't prepared to tackle that tractor yet since I was in the middle of a Cub Cadet 100 restoration, but its looming presence in the garage was a powerful motivator. In late May, just before the end of the school year and my final trek back east for the summer, I dismantled Kate's Cub.