Cockshutt 30 Restoration
By Cheryl Anderson
It started with a tractor show in Perry, Georgia. I was surprised my husband wanted to go, since he hadnít shown a lot of interest in old tractors other than the old Cockshutt 30 he had. It wasnít a big show but it was big enough to put a fire in his eyes. Returning home that afternoon, he got the John Deere 950 out of the barn and pulled that rusting old Cockshutt down the hill to the shop. The Chevelle he had been working on previously was pushed over into the corner.
My husband was born in Minnesota on a farm. His grandfather farmed several Ďsectionsí with Cockshutt tractors. He idolized his grandfather as a child, never knowing how much like him he would grow up to be. He stood in the shop that night, looking at the old, rusty, tired looking tractor. "My grandfather had one just like this on the farm", he said as he walked around touching the old pieces of metal. "I remember when I was about 16 years old he wanted me to help him rebuild it. I wouldnít do it. I had other things to do."
Day and night he stayed in the shop taking the old tractor apart. The block was full of water and rusted. He came to the house one night, a worried look on his face. I asked him what was the matter. "I think the block is cracked in this old thing. Iíll take and get it vatted tomorrow to find out", he replied. Sure enough a few days later he came home with the block and showed me a crack between the cylinder walls.
It just so happened that he had another old Cockshutt sitting back in the woods behind the shop. He pulled the engine from it and cleaned it up. There were no cracks in it so this became the block we would build. Every night and weekends for months, with me by his side, we worked on the old tractor. Two nights a week I took creative writing courses at a local college and when I came home - down to the shop I went. I know nothing about engines, but I was a good gopher and I think I had a calming effect on my husband when things looked glum.
One night after school, I went down and he was ready to put the flywheel on. He couldnít hold it and line the holes up to the bolts by himself so while he held the flywheel, I positioned it to line up with the bolts it sat on. My husband is a stout man, but the flywheel weighs over 100 lbs. and it was all he could do to lift it up and slide it onto the bolts. We did it though.
We rebuilt the starter and carburetor, making gaskets out of the cardboard from six pack containers of Miller Beer. Weíd work until early in the morning, finally reaching a point of exhaustion and dragging ourselves up the hill to the house where at 2:00 a.m. Iíd grill us a cheese sandwich and weíd climb the stairs to bed. Grease clogged my fingernails and cuts scored both our hands and arms.
Finally the night came to set the engine in place on the tractor. After it was in place and bolted down we installed the distributor. This is no easy feat as it is set in line with the oil pump. The teeth have to mesh in the right place, or the timing is off. For many, many nights we took the distributor out, drained the oil, took off the oil pan, moved the oil pump a notch, put the pan back on, put the oil back in and set the distributor down into the hole, gently, gently, hoping this time we had the right notch.
Fearing a fire, my husband and I pushed the nose of the heavy old tractor out the shop door before trying to start it. Finally, after numerous attempts it fired! We danced, we sang, we hugged each other mingling our sweat and tears as the tractor sat chugging away!
My husband painted the old tractor a shade of yellow -orange as close a match to the picture of his grandfather's tractor as he could get. Everyone that sees it says itís wrong, but my husband says itís right, and thatís all that matters!
To complete the tribute to his grandfather, my husband started looking for a Little Genius Two Bottom Plow. His grandfather used this type of plow to turn the soil on the old farm long ago. My husband and I rode over to talk with an older man my husband had befriended many years before. "Red", as he is known, asked him what he wanted with an old plow like that. My husband told him about his grandfather and how he had used one on the farm. Red told him he wished he would have known earlier that he wanted one. "There was an old widow woman that had one a few months ago", he said. "It sat along the fence row for years. Itís gone now though." As we started to the truck Red grabbed my husband by the arm, looked him in the eye and said "You gotta have a rope you know. Those old plows donít have no hydraulics." My husband just laughed. "Yeah", he said, "I know you gotta have a rope."
The following summer, we traveled to Wapakoneta Ohio to a Cockshutt tractor show. The weather was wet and cold but the show was huge. There were over 150 Cockshutts there from the earliest models to the latest. Of course there were other tractors too, but the Cockshutts were what we were interested in.
On the last day of the show they held an auction on everything from tractors to trailers of junk. My husband waded through the rows of tractors, trailers and implements when suddenly he came over to me and ask how much money I had. "Why? What have you found?", I asked. "Thereís a two bottom plow sitting over there. It looks to be in pretty good shape", he replied. He walked around and around, studying it, pulling on the long levers and looking at the shears.
"What do you think itís worth?", I asked him, watching his eyes roam over the piece of equipment.
"Iíd bid up to a hundred for it but no more", he said. The auction moved outside to where the plow sat. The air was chilly and the ground soggy as everyone gingerly made their way over. The bidding began on the plow starting at thirty dollars. My husband raised his hand. Another bidder went higher, my husband went higher. It went back and forth when suddenly the other bidder backed out. My husband got the plow for $65.00!
We had to go to town and buy some rope, a come-along and a wrench. We spent more on supplies to get it home than we had on the plow itself! The toolbox on the back of the truck had to be removed. With this done, a backhoe lifted the plow up and set into the bed of the truck. It was too long!
Like I said, Iím no country girl, and the thought of driving all the way back to Georgia with a plow hanging off the end of the truck didnít set well with me at all. My husband pulled the plow forward as far as it would go and told me to lift the end up and close the tail gate, letting the plow rest on it. Iím only 5ft tall and couldnít budge the thing. A man standing off to the side watching us ran over and lifted the plow while I slammed the tailgate. It would stay, but what were we going to do with the toolbox? Taking the rope we bought, we stood the toolbox on itís end and copiously tied it around and around the plow. Our set up looked like the Beverly Hillbillies but it would do.
Our two day trip home was a story in itself. The odd looks we got on the interstates as we headed South with our prize gave us great pleasure. Several people
tried to buy the plow as we stopped for the night.
We made it home safely and unloaded the old plow. We talked about how we had
an old tractor from Kansas and now an old plow from Ohio. The stories they could tell! My husband measured a length of the rope we bought to secure the plow with and looping it through the draw handle tied a knot.
Grinning, he walked over and put his arm around me. "Remember honey, you
gotta have a rope!"
My husband and I have been married seven years now and our tractor family has
grown. Besides the original Cockshutt 30, we now have a Cockshutt 40 and 50, a John Deere M, and a John Deere MC, as well as our working tractor the John Deere 950. Oh yeah, and the two bottom plow.
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