Seeing an Old Friend Again
Tractor Talk Forum Post
by Joe Evans
Dad had a concrete contracting business starting in 1960. One of his first pieces of equipment was a Ferguson TO-35 with a Davis loader. Dad replaced the TO-35 with a MF 202 Workbull, essentially an industrialized Ferguson 35 I am told. Dad bought the 202 new in 1962, and I recall quite clearly going to the dealer with him to sign for it.
The 202 to me, was a serious piece of equipment. The loader was beefy and looked like it belonged on the tractor. The 202 had power steering, a shuttle shift and was painted yellow just like the big-time Caterpillar earthmovers that I was so enamored with. Anytime I went to a jobsite with Dad and spotted the 202 on site, I knew this was a serious job--the Ferguson was there!
Dad sold the business in 1968 but kept the Workbull for use on the farm. My passage into manhood came to be in the seat of that 202 when one day, Dad told me to clean up all the building debris from our new farmhouse, level out and disk the yard. He cut me loose flying solo with the 202 to do that just after I had turned 12. I spent many other hours at the farm while Dad was at work doing assigned tasks with that neat tractor.
He sold the 202 to a contractor friend in 1969. I remember the contractor driving the 202 away after a check exchanged hands. I was never to see it again. Until...
Through the passing years, once in a while Dad would mention that the contractor still had that 202. After Dad's passing four years ago, I've been reconnecting with my farm boy days. Knowing where that contractor kept his equipment, I would occasionally drive by to possibly catch a glimpse of my old working buddy. I was almost like a stalker, but my "voyeurism" proved unsuccessul. I began to think this contractor no longer owned it, and my hopes of reconnecting with the Workbull and possibly acquiring it someday were fading quickly. One day a phone call to this contractor swept my fears away--he still had it! It was not for sale, however. They still used it, and why replace it with something that would cost at least $10,000?
Last Friday, I blew off work for the afternoon to go after Mom's day stuff. My errrands took me past this contractor's building. The building doors were open, and there were two guys there. Whoa! I did a 180 in a gas station and pulled up to the contractor's building.
I recognized one of the chaps as the contractor. Introducing myself and making certain they knew I was Bob Evans' son, I was greeted with a big smile.
"You still have that Ferguson loader you bought off Dad?"
"Yep. She's right there in that barn. Go in and take a look if you want."
Do I want to???!!! I felt kinda geeky, like anticipating meeting a high school sweetheart again. Walking into the barn I spied it parked in a back corner. There it was, those friendly headlights staring right at me! I know it was talking to me--"Hey! Where've you been? How are you? Remember me asking you 'what are we gonna do today?' "
I was alone with her, so I let my eyes well up freely. I ran my hand over the loader arms and the heavy radiator guard casting as I did so often as a kid. The textures and contours were all so familiar. The loader bucket had been rebuilt; it seemed smaller than I remember. Dad's scraper box was still on it, and I smiled at the 4" round solid bar welded to its rear for added counter weight. I quickly looked at the 3 pt lower lift links. Yep! The modifed ones were still there! Dad broke one of them when cutting in the new drive to the farm in 1964. I remember carting both of them to a weldor friend on a Saturday afternoon for repair and beefing up. She had been repainted. The rear wheels were now an incorrect orange.
Climbing aboard for the first time in 36 years and settling in the seat, I looked out over the hood and giggled. Typical Ferguson--feels like you're sittin' in a hole even at an adult 6'-2"! How did I cope with this as a scrawny 12-year-old? I tried the clutch. Dad often replaced clutches on the 202 because his employees would ride the pedal. He had manly clutch springs installed to keep this from happening, and I literally had to stand on the pedal to work it. Ha! Ha! Still the same old clutch feel! Always fascinated with the shuttle lever linkage, I flicked it back and forth again and felt its effortless motion. I played with the two loader levers. How many times did I do this pretending to operate the Ferguson before I was old enough to really do it?
Typically, I was on a deadline so I stepped off and gave her another look. Turning around and heading out the barn door, I thanked the current owner for my visit and told him he's surely given the Ferguson a good home. I apologized for taking up some of his time and for "visiting a tractor" which may appear "weird".
"Nope. No, I understand perfectly. Stop by any time," he said.
I left and went about the rest of the day. Dang! Why don't I slow down just once and smell the coffee? I didn't get the S/N, the hours, I didn't have my camera, and I didn't even start the 202 to hear it run. I'll bet that guy would've let me run her again for a while. What kind of tractor nut are you anyway? But my self-scolding yielded to thoughts of 36 years ago: Dad, me and the Ferguson doing "stuff".
Someway, somehow, I'm gonna get that yellow buddy back.
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