by Donnie Anderson
They call me "Little M" and this is my story.
For the past several years I have sat against the tree-line, where my parts have rusted and rotted away. For all of these years I have wondered just exactly what happens to old tractors?
Times were not always like this. I can remember back to 1948 when I was a brand new John Deere Model M. A man and his wife came to the dealer and looked me over real good. After many talks with the salesman a deal was struck and I, along with a M2 plow, cultivators, planters, and a disc harrow, were loaded on a truck and delivered to the place I would call home for the next 50 years.
As I was unloaded from the truck, I looked around and couldn't believe the beautiful meadow and surrounding hills. My new owner, and his wife, listened intently as the serviceman explained my care and operation. I couldn't wait to get to work.
My new owner took excellent care of me. I was never abused, fluids were checked and changed regularly, and every night I was parked in the tractor shed. For a tractor, life couldn't have been better.
Early in the morning, my new owner and I plowed. I can never forget how my 2 cylinder engine echoed off those hills. When the plowing was done we disked. As darkness approached, my muffler glowed "cherry red". Planting was easy, but cultivating had to be my favorite task. As the shovels skimmed loose dirt, I frolicked in 2nd gear. The distinctive "putt putt" of my 2 cylinder perpetuated itself within those hills.
For many years we toiled that sod, my owner and I. I always kept my end of the bargain as I provided a lot of the labor that my owner relied on to make a meager living and raise his family during the 50's and 60's. My owner kept his end of the bargain, taking excellent care of me.
As these years past I noticed many things. The land was forever changing. Houses, stores, and people crept into the country. I also became aware that my owner was getting older. We didn't plow as much, didn't disk as much, and I was always in the tractor shed way before dark
For a few days there were a lot of people visiting, and then I realized I never saw my owner again. He. of course, had died and all I knew was like last years corn, he was never coming back.
Day after day, week after week, and month after month I sat in the tractor shed looking out. The fields were soon overgrown with weeds and two houses were built in the meadow. All of this time I couldn't help but wonder what happens to old tractors?
After a couple of years, my owners son came and drove me down the road to his house. There we plowed, disked, and mowed. One day, after mowing, he shut me off next to this tree-line, climbed down, and left. For the first time I wasn't in the tractor shed.
For years I sat along this tree-line. When the sun wasn't baking me, the freezing weather caused condensation in my fluids. The can covering my muffler rusted and soon rain water crept in through one open exhaust and intake valve. After a while my tires were flat and the very dirt that I had plowed all of these years now rusted away my rims. My seat and steering wheel rotted away and then a big limb came crashing down, breaking the glass in my gauges. As all of this happened, I couldn't help but wonder what happens to old tractors?
Many times someone would stop and inquire as to whether or not I was for sale. Every time my owner's son would say, "no, someday I'm going to fix it up."
One day a man came and looked me over carefully. He removed my hood and grille and tried to turn over my engine, but it wouldn't budge. When he was through he put my hood and grille back on and left. I continued to wonder, what happens to old tractors?
A couple of days later the man came back. He put air in my tires and winched me onto a trailer. We drove down the road, leaving the place I had called home for the last 50 years.
As we approached my new owner's place, I saw several old tractors and pieces of old farm machinery. I couldn't help but wonder what happens to old tractors?
The next day I was reunited with my plow, disk, planters, and cultivator. Unlike me, they had spent all of these years in the tractor shed and were in fairly good condition.
My new owner, again, removed my hood and grille. He took off my valve cover and found that the years of rust and rainwater had rusted my rocker arms tight. Next, he removed my cylinder head and cleaned out the rust and water from my front cylinder. He filled my cylinders with oil and kerosene. My bent steering wheel was removed and sent to South Dakota to be recovered. Every day, it seems, my new owner took some part of me and cleaned. Every day he tried to turn over my engine, but it wouldn't budge. Then finally one day, my rusted rings let go. With this revelation, more parts were removed, cleaned, inspected, and replaced. Finally, I was pushed into the shop and the reassembly process began. My engine was reassembled, carburetor rebuilt, steering wheel replaced. A new battery was installed, switch "on", choke "out", and my starter rod pulled. For the first time in many years my crankshaft hoisted pistons, push rods opened valves, carburetor mixed fuel. When my engine started it is hard to say was prouder, my new owner or me. He made a few adjustments and shut me "off".
My new owner then stepped onto my drawbar, threw a leg over my final drive and sat down in the seat. Again, switch "on", choke "out", and he pulled my starter rod. Again, the distinctive "putt putt" of my 2 cylinders echoed off of the shop walls. With the clutch in, my transmission was placed into 2nd, and as the clutch was released I not only ran, but moved under my own power. For the first time in probably 10 years I drove up and down hills, along the tree-line.
Since then my new owner continues to work on me. I have many new parts and others have been cleaned and straightened. We ride his grandson around, frolicking in the country. I still love to hear that "putt putt".
Mechanically, I'm as good as I was 50 years ago and when I get a new coat of paint this spring. I'm sure I'll look as good as I did then.
At the beginning of this I told you that I was "Little M" and I had a story to tell. My story is, of course, this is what happens to old tractors. I now sit in the shed among other tractors. As my implements are cleaned up I'll do a little gardening, but for the most part I have been preserved as a testament to my former owner and the way things were done 50 years ago.
In a crowd my 2 cylinder engine and that distinctive "putt putt" will invariably be a reminder of "days gone by". The sight of me, the sound of me, and even the smell of me causes people to stop and remember a time long ago when maybe their dad (or grandfather) had an old tractor, made a meager living, and existed in a world that was a lot less hectic
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