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Great Great Grandpa's Case SC

In the spring of 1941, the exact date lost to time, a truck stopped at the end of a driveway about a half mile west of Willard, WI. On the truck’s door was written ‘Kalepp Implement Store Abbotsford, Wis’ and Harold Kalepp was behind the wheel. On the back of the truck was a brand new 1941 Case SC Tractor, serial # 4502336, one of the first Case tractors sold by Kalepp’s since acquiring the Case franchise earlier that spring. The truck stopped on the town road because the driveway to the Vladimir ‘Mirko’ Pakiz farm was plugged with drifted snow and was impassable. Harold unloaded on the road and drove the tractor down a shallow ditch, then across the field to it’s new home. Why would Mirko go all the way to Abbotsford, 34 miles away, when a John Deere could be had in Willard or a Ford in Greenwood? Mirko’s son Frank, 20 years old at the time, recalled that all the local dealers were willing to take in the old, unreliable, steel-wheeled Fordson but only Kalepps would also take 5 workhorses in trade. So the deal was made! Thus started a near 80 year, 5 generation saga in the life of a tractor. The Case spent the first 20 years performing mundane farm duties, pulling tillage equipment, seeders and corn planters, hay mowers, rakes and hay loaders, most modified from the horse- drawn version by shortening the wooden pole and adding a couple pieces of steel so it could be attached to a tractor drawbar. It was also used to cultivate corn, made much less demanding because of a mechanical ‘cultivator lift’ installed at the factory. In the horse-drawn version, the operator not only guided the horses, but also manually raised the cultivator at the end of each row by means of a couple of long levers. The Case also was especially suited to ‘picking rock’, as Willard was generously blessed with stones. The tractor could be kept in gear and idling, and it was only necessary to step between the tractor and the wagon and engage the hand clutch right from the ground. The tractor slowly crawled ahead and as it arrived in a new area to pick, someone would step behind the tractor and disengage the clutch, stopping movement amid more rocks. Sometimes, rocks were so numerous that only one move was needed to get a load on the steel-wheeled wagon. The tractor probably pulled grain and corn binders, as well as powered a silo filler or corn-sheller. Frank said it only once powered a threshing machine. That event occurred right across the road when “Bergant’s Oil-Pull broke down”. Frank married Rose Plautz in 1946 and started his own farm southwest of Greenwood. The Case was borrowed from time to time to assist at this farm. Mirko stopped farming in 1962 and the Case became a permanent resident on Frank’s farm, joining his ‘H’ and later his ‘M’ in farming. The Case was very handy, very maneuverable and easy for young helpers to operate, due to the very gentle hand clutch. Granddaughter Patrice, then about 12 years old, as well as others used the tractor to rake hay, pull wagons and ‘on the rope’ to raise hay into the mow. In 1980, Frank & Rose sold the farm to Wes Stieglitz and retired to a new home ‘up the road’ on the former Freddie Decker site. One day, several years later, Wes contacted Frank to inform him that the under- sized and well used Case had suddenly quit in the field. No attempt was made to diagnose the problem. Wes told Frank that the Case quit and that they had pulled it up behind the shed. If Frank wanted, he could have it, otherwise, it would go to the Scrap Yard.P Frank and 3rd Generation Larry (Mirko’s Grandson) towed the tractor to Frank’s new house and parked it in a vacant corner of the newly built pole shed, there to remain, unused , neglected and rusting for nearly 30 years. Occasionally, it got a passing glance when someone went into the shed but mostly it sat, waiting to be repaired. At some point it was discovered that the engine had ‘seized’ and would no longer turn over. In 2014, Rose passed and the decision was made to sell the house and downsize. An auction was scheduled, but what about the old Case? Lots of history and nostalgia there. Too many memories to send to the scrapyard along with the tractor. Larry decided that this tractor had to be preserved. Larry’s son, Todd, is interested in all things mechanical and his son inherited this trait. Why not get it running and give it to Mirko’s Great-Great Grandson, Brayden? Problem was, parts for a 75 year old tractor were scarce or simply not available. And since Grandson Larry was 70 years old, it was decided that this undertaking should be out-sourced. Larry had an ‘Army Buddy’, Wally Tix from Minnesota whose son Brian was capable and willing to undertake this project. In the Fall of 2014, the tractor was relocated to Hastings, MN in Wally Tix’s garage, to await Brian’s attention. The tractor was disassembled and the shortcomings evaluated. The engine was in much worse condition than was first thought. The pistons were hopelessly stuck to the liners, the valves in the cylinder head were unusable. Front tires and one front rim were junk and the rear tires, although holding air, were not much better. Extensive searching led to a Minnesota Restoration Dealer that had contracted with an off-shore company to reproduce pistons, rings and liners. Four sets were obtained. The crank shaft was worn and needed to be reground. This went to a machine shop. Since main and rod bearings were unavailable, the original inserts were sent away to be stripped of the bearing material, then relined with new babbitt. The inserts needed to be reinstalled and machined exactly to match the size of the reground crank shaft journals. The cylinder head was completely reconditioned by a shop in Hastings. Then all the engine parts were brought back to Greenwood and assembled in Bill Herr’s shop north of town by Bill & Larry. The completed engine was then returned to Hastings, MN in the fall of 2019. Brian Tix reassembled the tractor in early April 2020. Various parts still needed to be found, such as battery cables, a new battery, replacement ignition switch and a new water temperature gauge. A front rim was found and 2 new front tires and tubes purchased. Larry, an amateur machinist himself, replaced the brushes and bearings and trued up the commutator of the starter motor. Two used rear tires were discovered and bought. Finally, on Friday, July 24th 2020, the starter hit the ring gear and generated a couple of coughs and a puff of smoke. A minor twist on the distributor and after 45 years of silence, IT RAN!! Mirko’s Grandson Larry and his Great-Grandson Todd watched as 12 year old Brayden Pakiz proudly drove his Great-Great Grandpa’s Case SC, serial # 4502336, built in February 1941, out of the shop.P EPILOG On Labor Day, September 7th, 2020 Todd Pakiz loaded the Case onto a trailer and delivered it to Neillsville Assisted Living in Neillsville, WI, for a reunion with the man who watched it being unloaded in Willard almost 80 years earlier. After Grandsons Larry and Dave took it for a spin, Great Grandson Todd and and Great Great Grandson Brayden had a turn. Son Frank commented that he “never expected to see that tractor run again.” Dean Lesar of the TRG took some pictures of the old tractor with 4 generations of people who valued it, each for their own reasons. Then it was reloaded onto the trailer and delivered to its permanent home in New Prague, Minnesota.

Larry, WI, entered 2020-09-22
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