Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Austin's Tractor

Austin totally rebuilt a 1949 John Deere tractor for an FFA project. It was judged at our county fair, and he will take it to the State Fair to be judged there as well.

Austin has wanted to do a tractor since he was a young boy, but you need to have completed at least one year in the FFA program at our school in order to be in the classes. So he was anxious to get started.

Jay and Austin found a tractor for him and brought to the school, along with several other students who were doing tractors. Some rebuilt the entire thing, some only did body work. Austin did the full rebuild.

Here's some pictures to show just how involved he had to get in this project:

 This is a picture of the front grill. It was green...sort of. Austin had to pound out dents and then totally sand it down before he could even think about repainting it.

The tractor had to be taken completely apart, to see what parts needed to be replaced (many did) and what could be reused. Even the ones that could be used had to be cleaned and sanded to make them look new.

Once the new parts came in, you couldn't just re-assemble the tractor because you still had more body work to do. As Austin said "sooo many stupid dents!" lol

Mechanics is not Jay's strong suit, and the FFA advisor has so many kids he's trying to help at the same time, so he allows kids to have someone come in and help them when needed. Our good friend, Jeff, is very mechanically knowledgeable and he was so great to come help Austin several times.

Jeff was also great when it came to teaching Austin how to put the newly rebuilt motor back together. Jeff talked Austin through how to do things when he helped him, but he made Austin do the actual work himself, so that he learned what he was doing, and why. What a great friend he is!

Once the body has been un-dented, and fully sanded, it then goes into the painting station. All the parts must be painted and if any mistakes are made, you have to sand those out and then repaint. The main parts of the body took 2-3 coats. After that, it's reassembly time.

If you look closely you can see all the nuts and bolts and cables that Austin had to clean or replace.He spent so much time on this project over the past year. They only have 1 1/2 hours each day in class ( although part of that is spent in the classroom). So most kids, including Austin came in before and after school to work on their tractors.

Remember that grill? Looks much better now doesn't it? :)  Austin's FFA Adviser came out to our place this Summer to help Austin apply the stickers and logos. You only get one shot with those and he has some special tool to aid in the application. It also helps to make sure you have it lined up properly.

After a very long year, the tractor was finally done. Austin is so proud of the job he has done on it, and so are we! When we asked him about doing another one he said "No way!" It took so much of his time, especially when you figure in school, sports, school music concerts, and homework. He also learned that he does not enjoy mechanics. He is a perfectionist like I am, and therefore he preferred the body work and painting, and enjoyed making sure it was just right.

However, he did say he'd like to redo another tractor without having to do the mechanical parts...just the body work. This next year he is taking a welding class in FFA, so who knows what will come of that. :)

Austin earned a purple ribbon at the fair for all his hard work, and purple is the highest ribbon you can be awarded.  We are extra proud because he was the only sophomore, and according to his Adviser, not many first year kids earn a purple.

As for the future of this tractor, it will remain a show tractor. With this being such a strong farming area, many have restored or rebuilt tractors over the years, so they appreciate all the hard work that goes into doing that. People are encouraged to drive their restored tractors through area parades, and Austin plans to do that next Summer.

In the meantime, it will travel to the State Fairgrounds next week to be judged there. We're keeping our fingers crossed!! :)

No comments: