Whether you are going to restore a car, boat, motorbike, van, lorry or a tractor there is a lot to think about. For the purpose of this article we will concentrate on restoring a tractor.
If you are going to undertake a restoration, the finished tractor will give you massive satisfaction and a huge sense of reward, but there is a lot of hard work along the way, as well as a lot of money!
Restoration has kind of lost its meaning, some people think that a quick respray is restoring a tractor, personally I believe a restoration is a complete strip down to bare castings with all seals gaskets and bearings replaced as necessary.
First thing is first, there are so many options on what tractor you can buy. If you are carrying out the restoration yourself do you have the practical know how? Can you identify what is worn out and what is re-useable? Many parts on tractors are very heavy, therefore you will need an engine crane, a gantry is very useful too. Space, the big one, yes you may have a single garage that the tractor fits in, but during a restoration you take stuff off and before you know it you have filled the space of 4 garages!
Money, whatever you think it will cost, treble it and you are about right with what you will spend.
The most important thing is choose your tractor wisely. Is it a family heirloom and therefore money won’t be an object? The saying goes if it is recognisable it is restorable, but is it worth it?
Your chosen tractor will play a huge part in how long and how difficult your restoration will be. For instance, if you’re pulling a tractor out of a hedge, the chances of it running are minimal, the tinwork will probably be scrap and unless it’s something fairly rare it might not be worth restoring.
A tractor that had an early restoration will probably run and just need tidying up, but will probably need parts replacing as well as some panels and possibly some engine bits.
A barn find tractor is one of the best, aside from actually finding one (something that is becoming harder) the likelihood is that it will be fairly original and was probably retired from the farm due to a newer model replacing it. However remember it might have been retired because it broke and was uneconomical to repair!
Personally I believe that buying a tractor that is running is much better, you may pay a bit more but it will give you a much better idea of what is required.
The best advice I can give is join a local club and talk to people, yes a book may tell you most things, but experience from someone who works on them is worth so much more.
Parts; strangely as times goes on, parts are generally getting easier to get. With the added advantage of the internet, you can order parts from the other side of the world and have them with you in a few weeks. More parts are being manufactured by OEM sources as many tractors are still being used daily in developing countries. If you go for a tractor pre 1950 however parts are not easy to locate and get more difficult over time, you will spend many hours on the phone and the internet searching forums and speaking to people. In some cases be prepared to have to have parts made though.
Let’s assume by now that you have your chosen tractor and are ready to start. If your tractor is totally original, do you want to restore it? The trend now is that original tractors are worth more than restored ones; after all you can’t un-restore a tractor back to its “original working clothes”.
When restoring a tractor try and think of the restoration as several bits and not as a whole. Concentrate on the engine, transmission, tinwork, wheels etc as individual items; this makes the whole process a lot less daunting.
Stripping the tractor can be very rewarding as you get to undo the years and start to unravel the history. Before you start though, take as many photos as humanly possible, over time you will forget how it came apart and could be scratching your head for hours trying to remember how it goes back together, a picture will show you how!
Many hours will be spent cleaning parts; this is the worst bit of a restoration, just keep thinking forward to putting those shiny restored parts back on.
Once restored and back to its former glory the tractor should require little maintenance and should give years of enjoyment.
It is worth mentioning however you will spend far more on restoring the tractor than it is worth without adding on labour. You really have to want to restore something to follow it through to the end (have a look on ebay under “unfinished project”).
We here at Anglo-Agriparts can supply most parts for most tractors 1950 on, so have a look through our site for all your parts!