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Antique Tractor Talk Vintage farm tractors and mounted implements. Ford, John Deere, Oliver, McCormick and more.

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Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.


Every tractor has a story, and this was a story that was almost untold. I traveled far to pick up...

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  #1  
Old 11-25-2010, 12:22 PM
flatfenders-n-flatheads flatfenders-n-flatheads is offline
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Default Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.

Every tractor has a story, and this was a story that was almost untold. I traveled far to pick up this '77 Economy 2414 tractor, which I had only seen in photos. When I first saw the decrepit tractor, I felt like I had made a huge mistake buying it. It sure looked better in the photos, and the seller's over-the-phone description was...well, let's say that it was creative.

Ignoring the ache in my belly that told me not to; I loaded the tractor and headed home. Down came the rain, as I made my way to the freeway that would bring me back home. Maybe it wasn't that bad, I thought briefly, glancing at the ugly contraption in the rear view mirror. At that moment, I went over a large bump on the freeway ramp, which ripped the tractor's battery loose from the fender, and sent it bouncing into the bottom of the tractor seat. There was a blinding flash, and a shower of sparks as the battery terminals momentarily short circuited on the old rusty seat. After pulling over to refasten the battery, I could not stop thinking about the mess that I had just gotten myself into.

Safe at home, I crept outside, hoping that the morning light would change my mind about the albatross that I had just brought home. Nope! Overnight, the tractor had oozed oil all over the trailer, it was sitting lopsided and bent, and I imagined it falling to pieces, like in a cartoon, when I loosened the tie down straps. The engine and drive train were seriously loose, the frame was bent and broken, the front tires were going flat, the steering was a mess, the 14 hp engine that was supposed to be in it, actually turned out to be a tired 10 hp engine that barely ran. I also had suspicions that the tractor may have been rolled at one time in its tired past. I had to face it, I had bought a LEMON!

I struggled again with the idea of parting it out, then I heard his voice. "Daddy, is that the new tractor! Can we drive it?!" I smiled and told him that if I can get it started, he can get a ride to the garage. Surprisingly, it did start, and perhaps more surprising was that it actually made it to the garage. My son was all smiles, and his smiles have a way of changing my mind. My wife took some pictures, and seemed a little excited about the tractor. Perhaps our son's smiles had an effect on her to, and I believe that she was also trying to cheer me up a little. She had succeeded. The next day, when I returned from work, she had started to disassemble and fix up the the battered tractor, and urged me to continue.

The initial plan was just to fix it enough to deem it usable. That plan fell away pretty quickly, as there was just too many fixes that needed to be done. As I sat amidst the scattered parts of the completely disassembled tractor, I wondered if this was going to be another project that would never be whole again.

As we dismantled the tractor, the scope of the project became clear. It was taken down to the frame so that weld repairs could be made and parts of it straightened.


We used Case/IH Power Red paint from the local dealer. My wife and I painted the frame using foam rollers, and it turned out surprisingly well. I figured that I would use the tractor as an experiment to test different painting techniques and materials, everything from brushes and rollers to an HVLP spray gun were used to paint various parts of the tractor. Some parts were painted with primer and many were not. The factory painted parts had no evidence of primer use, so I tried that on a lot of the parts.


Pretty much every part of this tractor needed attention. A common problem with tractors that sit outside is illustrated below. Water and wear in the transmission meant that it needed to be rebuilt. Luckily, the T92 transmissions are very simple to work on, a nice departure from the larger truck three and four speeds that I am used to rebuilding.


It took a while, but it was nice to see it back on its wheels after a few months of work. I still hadn't addressed the rear axle problems, but having a rolling chassis seems to mark a milestone in any vehicle restoration.



Daniel
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Old 11-25-2010, 12:25 PM
flatfenders-n-flatheads flatfenders-n-flatheads is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.

The tractor came with only one transmission, but I happened to find a NOS transmission for very cheap, so I located the other parts needed to install the second transmission. I made many little modifications as I went along, since I am one of those folks who can't leave "well enough" alone.


After the tractor was on its wheels, and the drive train was mounted in place, it was time to tackle the engine. My little boy enjoys being involved, which makes mundane tasks quite rewarding. The engine was the most expensive part of the project. I ended up having to locate a replacement engine block, as the engine that came in the tractor was actually a 10 hp disguised under the 14 hp shrouding. Someone had left the engine loose in the tractor which created many problems that I would need to address later on.


The old rims needed attention, and my wife graciously sanded them for me. They turned out excellent, as you can see in the before and after shots.

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Old 11-25-2010, 12:27 PM
flatfenders-n-flatheads flatfenders-n-flatheads is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.

The body tunnel for the tractor was shot. It was rusted through in many places. It was more repair work than I wanted to tackle, and the idea of having the drive train open and visible for maintenance purposes was very appealing to me, just like on the older Economy tractors. I built a hydraulic tank mount and battery mount, using the salvageable parts of the old body tunnel and some 1" by 1/8" flat stock. I also added a weld tab for a rear facing light. The rear light is a standard tractor light with rubber housing, and it takes the same bulb as the Power King headlights. I installed a fuse and a switch inside the rubber housing so that the light can be operated independently to help simplify wiring.

I have to thank my good friend Ken for getting me the replacement hydraulic hoses. I had an extra battery from one of my trail jeeps that fit nicely in the new battery tray. I made all the wiring for the tractor once the engine was reassembled and installed.




I managed to get the tractor all together, and I started it up just before Halloween, a year and a half after this saga began. This was a huge thrill, because I planned to pull the kids in a mini hayride for Trick or Treat.

However, the dark cloud that had hung over the tractor had not left yet...when I tried to shift gears for the first time, it clashed into first gear and the tractor would not stop!

All parts of the clutch were new or rebuilt, so it was a puzzling dilemma. The problem turned out to be the resurfaced clutch friction disk. The resurfaced disk was a mere 0.030" thicker than the new factory disk, and that little difference was enough to cause the clutch not to release! Another hard lesson learned from a project which has taught me a awful lot.

After a couple of weeks of extra work, my boy and I were once again ready for the second "first test drive". This time the sun was shining, and everything seemed to work well. My son steered as I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. The tractor still needs some attention, but it is close enough to finished for me. I will get to the little stuff later. For now, it is time to get it ready for the snow and for gardening in the spring. I have a front mounted plow and some garden implements that I am excited to try out.
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Old 11-25-2010, 12:29 PM
flatfenders-n-flatheads flatfenders-n-flatheads is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.




I found a neat little tachometer / hour meter that helped when tuning the engine, and it should also be invaluable for maintenance. The typical broken plastic throttle T-handle was solved by welding a stud onto the broken lever and threading on a round shift ball for a handle.


It is nice to have it together again. When I first picked up the tractor I really did not think that we would complete such an impossible looking project, but it is true...you can get orange juice from a lemon!

Daniel

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Old 11-25-2010, 12:32 PM
flatfenders-n-flatheads flatfenders-n-flatheads is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.




Hope you folks enjoy the pictures and story, Happy Thanksgiving!

Daniel
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Old 11-27-2010, 06:19 PM
Geoffrey Mark Geoffrey Mark is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.

great tale and neat tractor . thanks for sharing
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Old 11-27-2010, 08:34 PM
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Bigjoedo Bigjoedo is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.

Flatfenders& Flatheads,

You did an awesome job with the tractor restoration!! Thanks for sharing

Bigjoedo
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:02 PM
Brasherman Brasherman is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.

Daniel, the smile on his face says it all. Congrats on the resto, makes it look new again!
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Old 01-02-2011, 02:44 AM
desotonut1953 desotonut1953 is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.

Nice story! Great to see another generation taking interest in restoring tractor also. Beautiful tractor you have there.
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:02 PM
Exbrit Exbrit is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.

That was a heck of a story and I really enjoyed reading all about the trials and tribulations. Photos were also excellent.
A real nice break in pace, sitting and reading it.
Thanks a lot
Roger
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:53 PM
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Mike in NC Mike in NC is offline
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Default Re: Orange juice from a lemon...an Economy Tractor restoration story.

Very nice job!!!
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