Farmall Tractor Project – Introduction Part 1

Be careful what you wish for…!

By now, anyone who has looked into my blog knows “I Grew up on a Farm in Virginia.” From as early as I can remember, there was a tractor on the farm—except for a brief period after “The Day My Mother Burned Down the Tractor Shed.”

Now that we are settled in the country in Tennessee, I have had my heart set on getting a tractor. I don’t really need one, but it was my desire to get a tractor similar in make and vintage to the ones I grew up with. Some “fixing up” would be expected. Well, as they say, “Be careful what you wish for.”

The 1955 Farmall Cub exactly where it had been for 20 years.

The 1955 Farmall Cub exactly where it had been for 20 years.

My friend since college, John, and I have often talked—just talked—about restoring something; maybe a 1960s Volkswagen or 1957 Chevy or in my case, that tractor. John married a girl from North Carolina whose parents have a farm and a Farmall Cub stored in a barn. They were no longer actively farming and the tractor had been sitting in storage for more than 20 years. John had vague memories of seeing it running, but certainly not recently. He sent me photos. It looked rough, but complete and that was what I had in mind. Through John, I expressed my interest in buying the tractor if they would consider selling it.

John’s mother-in-law wanted to know why I wanted the tractor, and John knew enough about me to explain that I wanted to have something to fix up and use around my home place. After a few days, I was told that I could have it. As soon as spring arrived, I arranged a U-Haul trailer and met John in North Carolina to pick up the tractor.

Afer 20 years, the tires still held air and we rolled it onto the trailer.

Afer 20 years, the tires still held air and we rolled it onto the trailer.

The first thing I checked after walking around the tractor was the oil dip stick. There was oil in the engine, and no sign of water. That was good. The next thing was to turn the engine crank to determine if the pistons were frozen in the engine. Not only were they not frozen, but there was good compression in the cylinders.

A check of the serial number on data plate on the front of the engine identified this as a 1955 Farmall Cub.

The carburetor was missing.

The carburetor was missing. Circle indicates where the carburetor should be–but was not.

A detailed inspection revealed that the carburetor was missing, and it could not be found. The tires were all flat, and showed some signs of dry rot and cracking. Surprisingly, though, we were able to pump up all four tires and roll the tractor onto the trailer. We collected all of the parts that we could find, including the fuel tank and engine cover which were off the tractor and secured everything on the trailer.
As we rolled it off the trailer here at home, John asked if I really thought I could get it running. There was skepticism in his voice.

My overly confident response: “If I can find a carburetor, I’ll have it running within two weeks! If not, I’ll give it a coat of paint, put it in the yard, and plant flowers around it.”

The first step was to find a copy of the original Operator’s Manual with all of the service specifications.

Did I find a carburetor? Did I find an Operator’s Manual? Did I get it running within two weeks? Will I have to buy flowers? Find out in “Farmall Tractor Project – Introduction Part 2,” coming soon.

Farmall Tractor Project – Introduction Parts 1 is the first in a series (I hope) of articles that document the intended restoration of a 60-year-old, 1955 Farmall tractor retrieved from 20 years of idle storage. Let’s see how far this restoration really goes! Keep in mind, this is “in progress,” so I do not have all of the answers—yet.

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6 Responses to Farmall Tractor Project – Introduction Part 1

  1. Melissa Shaw-Smith says:

    Great! Can’t wait to see the outcome. I love old tractors and often stop to take their lovely pictures.

  2. merlinjr01 says:

    Well now the pressure is on. Someone is watching my progress. It is going to be an interesting experience. Thank you for your comment, and “stay tuned.”

  3. I’m rooting for the carburetor and the Owner’s Manual …

  4. merlinjr01 says:

    Thank you for the comment. Thinking of naming this series “As the Tractor Wheel Turns.” “Will he get the carburetor!?” “Does the tractor fall in love with the plow?” “Is the mower out of the picture?” “What is the evil planter plotting?” Stay tuned for the next gripping episode.

  5. I was born in NC and lived in the south with a southern born and bred Mother so I think I’m a kindred spirit. 🙂 I like tractors and all things vintage, but don’t aspire to restore anything with grease, and motor oil! Mind I am a Lady! 🙂 I do hope you’re able to get a Tractor restored though. I’d love to see and photograph it!

    Truth be told…since moving to CA when I was a toddler I’m a Southern, Country Western Sun lovin Gal. 🙂 I really don’t fit in here, but time and history are on my side. 🙂

    • merlinjr01 says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. Will forgive you for deserting to California. I was there but did not “take root!” If you get a chance, look at some of my growing up stories under the category, “I grew Up on a Farm in Virginia.”

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