Addicted to Old Iron

Idaho teenager already a seasoned collector of old iron.

| October 2014

By his own admission, Bryce Frazier is addicted. Nobody knows that better than his family, all of whom cheerfully support his habit — old iron, 24-7. At 16, the Sagle, Idaho, teenager has solid restoration skills and a tractor collection that many twice his age would envy. And he’s just getting started.

Although he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t fascinated with antique tractors, Bryce says his hobby got its start four years ago, when the then 12-year-old tagged along with his mom to a yard sale. There he spotted a pair of 1949 Farmall Model C tractors. One was in running condition (more on that, later); the other was a parts donor.

“I took a good, long look at the Farmall tractor engine,” he recalls. “It seemed amazingly simple compared to our Yanmar sitting at home.” Even the purchase price (the tractors were tagged at $600 for the pair) seemed manageable. “I had the money saved,” Bryce says, “but I had to convince both the owner and my mom to let me buy them.” His only hesitation? The tractors were red — not the green of his beloved John Deere line. Still, a few weeks later, the tractors were his.

School of hard knocks

By the time Bryce became a teenager, he’d restored his first antique tractor: one of the Farmalls he’d bought at the yard sale. When he bought the tractor, the engine would turn over but it made ominous sounds. The tractor had very little power and consumed oil at an alarming rate.

As he and his dad, Barry, tore into the engine, they discovered that, at some point, it had been stuck. A previous owner had somehow managed to get it running. But the damage was done: Rust had eaten piston rings and valves in three of the cylinders and the piston in the fourth was damaged. The engine was badly cracked. “Everything inside was garbage,” Bryce says.

At that point, he and his dad pulled the engine off the tractor and took it to an engine shop for complete disassembly. Bryce bought $800 worth of parts, including new pistons, rings, valves and engine sleeves. Eventually the tractor got a paint job and more new parts (steering wheel, gauges, wiring and a sediment bowl) — and Bryce got a great education.