Farmall Tractor Project – Introduction Part 2

Picking up where we left off…

I spent several hours on the Internet looking for stuff: the Operator’s Manual and parts, including a new carburetor.

The manual turned out to be easy—and free. Found an online site that has manuals for most farm equipment available as PDF files. They were a little awkward to download—a page at a time, but fortunately, 1950s manuals were not terribly detailed.

Using this manual, I made a list of the lubricants and other materials needed to complete an annual service. I also checked the sparkplugs (new ones were available, but I elected to try the originals).

Carburetors were also available on line, some reconditioned, some new. Then, I decided to try the local Farmall dealership in the next community about ten miles away. This is a busy farm equipment dealership and service center. The parts department is well-stocked and the service personnel knowledgeable and helpful. So I walked up to the service counter, sat on a stool and asked. “I don’t suppose you know where I could get a carburetor for a 1955 Farmall cub?”

The tractor as we found it!

The tractor as we found it!

“Hmm, let me check.” He turned to the computer terminal behind the counter, punched a dozen or so keys, studied the screen, and then disappeared into the stock shelves behind the counter.

“This should work,” he said. And the price was no more than the online prices. I had to buy the attachment bolts separately, but I had a (new) carburetor ready to install.

The next day I installed the carburetor. With that done, I could attach the hood and gas tank and complete the fuel connection to the carb. With that accomplished, I followed the manual to complete all of the steps for a routine annual service. Oh, and I had to buy a six volt battery—remember them?
It had been ten days since we unloaded the tractor from the trailer.

I had already determined that the battery and starting motor would crank the engine. Now it was time to add fuel and ignition.

With a couple of gallons of fuel added to the tank, I opened the fuel valve and checked for fuel to the carburetor. Master power switch ON; set the throttle about midway in its range; and pull the starter handle.

The engine fired on the first attempt, then simply stopped. It fired on the second attempt and stopped. I located and opened the choke on the carburetor and tried again, and it fired and continued running. Blue exhaust belched from the exhaust manifold—from the rich fuel mixture. After a minute the engine settled into a steady rhythm, the smoke disappeared, and I eased off of the choke. It was running smoothly, and with four days to spare!

The Cub was driven around the yard under its own power for the first time in 20 years.  It was parked here for photos.

The Cub was driven around the yard under its own power for the first time in 20 years. It was parked here for photos.

Several weeks later, I arranged some professional attention for the Cub. The drain plug for the radiator was frozen in place and the head of the plug had been rounded off by earlier attempts (not me) to take it out. I was afraid I might break something if I forced it. I also wanted the exhaust pipe welded onto the exhaust manifold, a quick steam cleaning and a few other items. I took it to the same dealership that had the carburetor, and had them do the service. They cut the head off of a bolt and welded it onto the damaged radiator plug and were able to pull it right out.

I took the tractor home and flushed the cooling system and installed a new pressure cap on the radiator. Surprisingly, there were no leaks in the cooling system. I did replace the cooling system hoses, all of which were brittle and badly cracked.

Preparing for the local July 4th parade.

Preparing for the local July 4th parade.

Over the past year, I have run the tractor regularly. We used it to pull the family reunion hayride wagon and to pull my wife’s vintage camper in the local July 4th parade, as well as for simple chores around the home place.

The Cub drew lots of attention at a local classic car

The Cub drew lots of attention at a local classic car “Cruise In.”

People have been looking at the tractor; even had a couple of offers to buy it. One cousin asked if I was going to really restore it—paint it and make it look new. At first, it seemed more authentic for it to retain in age-appropriate rustiness. It has taken more than a year to make up my mind on that, but I have started cleaning and painting the tractor. It will take a while because I will be doing it in sections. I want to keep the tractor available to run.

A new wiring harness will have to be fabricated. The cloth covered wires are badly chafed and the wires are weakening. I have already had to replace several wires. There are missing parts to be found, other parts to be straightened and several minor repairs to be made to bring it back to its former glory. Additionally, there is a rusty cutter-bar mower to be restored.


If you know anyone who has done an auto or tractor restoration, please share this with them and let them know I would like to be in touch to be able to ask questions and seek guidance as I proceed on this project.

Farmall Tractor Project – Introduction Part 2 concludes the introduction to this planned series of posts 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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