Farm Collector

Friendly Connection

A collectible tractor that comes with a personal connection is doubly special.

And that’s just how Gene Preston of Rochester, N.Y., feels about his model 100 1964 International Harvester Cub Cadet. The little tractor was purchased new in 1964 by the late Ray Gutmann, a friend of Gene’s dad who would become a friend and mentor to Gene in the years to come.

Ray was a skilled machinist and a tool-and-die maker who lived near Wolcott, N.Y. His Cub Cadet, serial no. 87636, came with a 10-hp Kohler K-241-A engine, and was outfitted with the optional hydraulic lift, hour meter, real tractor-style seat, and the hard-to-find creeper drive gear and round fenders.

Gene recalls being on hand when the Cub arrived in 1964, at Ray’s home, and then talking with him again about it some 25 years later, after seeing him snow blowing in his driveway with the immaculate little machine. “I asked him if he ever thought of purchasing a new Cub Cadet,” Gene says. “After all, his 100 was approaching 25 years of service.” The aging Ray slowly swung open the door of the winter cab, climbed out and answered emphatically, “Heck no! This tractor is mighty and will do anything a new one will do, and furthermore, I’m just getting it broke in. Anyway, don’t you know that Harvester made these things to last forever?”

More time passed and Ray’s health started to fail. He could no longer maintain his own yard, so he made a deal with his neighbor: the neighbor would take the 100 in exchange for keeping Ray’s grass cut.

After the neighbor acquired a larger mower to do the job, he put the 100 up for sale, and that’s when Gene finally got his chance. “What was I to do?” he says. He purchased the 100, and all its attachments, which included the mower deck, snow blower, tire chains, fully enclosed winter cab, front-mounted 2,400-watt generator power unit, all parts and service manuals, and various tools and spare parts.

The tractor had not received the same good care from the neighbor that Ray had given it, but Gene was able to clean it up, repaint the necessary parts and return it to show condition. Before Ray’s death in 2000, Gene took some photos of the restored 100 to him so he could see it once again. Unable to speak because of a stroke, Ray’s smile expressed his satisfaction eloquently. He took a nearby pad of paper and pencil, and wrote this note to Gene: “Now you are the Cub Cadet man.”

Among the many “extras” with Ray’s Cadet 100, by far the most valuable was what Gene calls the “bible,” a handwritten journal that Ray kept of the tractor’s history. In it, Ray documented everything from the tractor’s arrival to ongoing maintenance work: oil changes, blade sharpening, instances of engine work, tire pressures, gasoline usage, muffler changes and even dates when the mower deck came off and the snow blower went on.

Attached to the inside journal cover is the original sales receipt and warrantee. It shows that Ray paid $747 for the tractor, $144.25 for the mower deck and $165 for the CW-36 snow thrower. The popular creeper drive unit cost $41 and the fenders cost $45.

Also neatly inserted into the journal are letters tracing communications between Ray and International Harvester engineers about various modifications he suggested be made to future generations of such lawn and garden tractors. “He must have been so pleased when the new Cadet models came off the Louisville assembly line sporting improvements he sketched out years earlier,” Gene says. One dealt with mower-deck height control; another with the fully enclosed winter cab.

“Since I took ownership of this nearly 40-year-old tractor, it has been retired to tractor parades and shows,” Gene says. “I like to say that this old girl does an excellent job of just sitting around and looking good.” FC

  • Published on Jul 1, 2002
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