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SLIDESHOW — Salvaged tractor a tribute to Dad

When Pat Klein was 10, he traveled 30 km with his father and his brother to pick up a used tractor for the family farm.

Now, 60 years later, Pat and his brother Elmer spent a year and a half putting the old tractor back together.

The brothers lost their dad, Andrew, in 1990 and decided to do this as a way to remember him.

“When we dug it out of the bush in October 2011, it was rusting, it was old and it was all there,” said Pat. “We decided we’re going to do this for Dad’s sake because we remember farming with it from the time Dad got it until probably 1965.”

The Farmall H tractor was purchased from the Mitchell family near Elnora in the mid 1950s and driven back to the Klein farm near Delburne.

Over 850 hours of labour and $14,000 in parts was poured into restoring the 24-horse-power tractor. Pat said it is now completely restored front to back.

“There is nothing that hasn’t been done to it. It’s completely brand new.”

The parts were ordered from the U.S. through Future Ag and Case International or through the Internet with mail delivery.

Pat said the tractor cost about $200 to $300 in the 1950s, second hand, and a new tractor would start at $1,100.

When Pat was putting the tractor back together, he found an anomaly in its production history. He was ordering gears for the transmission from a place in the U.S. Pat was working based off the 1944 production date, but the person he was ordering from asked him to count the number of cogs on the gears.

“In 1939, they had 28 cogs on them, because they used to use it for a car,” said Pat. “After 1944, they slowed them down, the gears were cut down to 23 cogs. So the tractor was slowed down. That’s how we got to know the tractor was minted in 1939 and produced after.”

It was built in 1939 but wasn’t put together until 1944 because of the Second World War.

“So its a pre-war tractor but it was produced after the war,” said Pat.

The restoration work on the tractor was done in Red Deer in Pat’s shop. Andrew would drive in to town and help with the project, which he worked on in his down time from farming.

They mostly put it back together in town but took it to the farm to put the metal on it, including the exterior panels.

“Our wives wouldn’t drive it because it had no fenders on it,” said Pat. “So we had to put the fenders back on because the fenders are an afterthought.”

The fenders on the original were built in Calgary by Calgary Fenders. They too were put back on. The fenders prevented the driver from getting covered in dirt that was kicked up by the wheels.

With the addition of the fenders, the wives did drive it and the grandchildren hopped on for a ride.

The engine started up for the first time in decades on May 17, 2012, before the finishing touches were put on.

Working through the project, they discovered several local businesses that shared their interest in antique tractors.

Elmac’s Auto Electric did the motor, because the No. 1 piston was rusted through the sleeve and the block.

Pat and Elmer primed the tractor, but went looking throughout Central Alberta for someone to put on the final coat. Red Deer Collision Repair put the glossy red coat on the tractor.

“David Cruickshank, the manager there, loves this old stuff and said ‘I gotta have that tractor, I’ll know what to do to paint it,’ ” said Pat.

Pat and Elmer picked up the finished product from the body shop on Friday.

When the tractor was in use in the 1950s and 1960s it was used for haying.

Now it will be shown in parades (its first was on Aug. 8, 2012) and kept at the old family farm near Delburne.

Elmer still farms on the land and is passing it on to his son, Emery, who will be the third generation of Klein to farm on that land.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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