This 1940 Minneapolis-Moline Model Z was bought by my father, Art Sorter, on July 1, 1940, from Harstad Implement, Newfolden, Minn., along with a 3-14 Minneapolis-Moline plow and 7-foot Minneapolis-Moline mower, all for less than $850 (about $14,000 today). To get it back running, it cost almost $3,000, not counting many hours of work cleaning, painting, sandblasting, disassembly and reassembly. I also spent a lot of time looking for parts, like all four wheels, a good block and others.
When I began restoration, the tractor had not run for 20 years. The manifold was broken at the top and the engine was full of water. When I took a spark plug out, water shot across the shop floor. Everything was stuck. We went through five blocks before we found two we could use. Even the crankshaft was stuck: We broke it loose with the crank and a pipe wrench.
This is the third engine in this tractor; Dad would get engines from combines. It never had an oil filter unit, so I found one from an old tractor that was junked. Then I found out you can’t get Minneapolis-Moline oil filters anymore. A friend gave me a Wix filter (no. 51125) that fit without the nut on the outer end.
When I went out to the farm to look at the tractor on Nov. 21, 2008, all the tires were flat. We aired them up and jacked it up out of the dirt and blocked each wheel under the tires, but we couldn’t turn the rear wheels; they were frozen. But the temperatures warmed up enough the next day that the tractor rolled on its own when we pulled it to a trailer. After getting it on the trailer, we took the tractor to town to work on it.
We drained 2-1/2 gallons of water out of the rear end but everything worked OK. I bought four new tires: 600-by-12-inch for the front and 11.2-by-38 on the rear. When I got the tractor from the farm, my dad had 14-by-30 tires on the rear and welded rims on the front 650-by-16.
This tractor was built the first year Minneapolis-Moline came out with a starter and lights. I had to find lights for the tractor, because my dad had broken the lights off driving in the woods and my brother had hit a rock when he was driving in fifth gear and rolled the tractor, also causing damage. FC
For more information:
— Willard Sorter, 230 2nd St. N., Middle River, MN 56737.
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