Tuesday, July 5, 2011

7 Things You Need To Know Before Restoring Your Antique Tractor

Whether it is your first or tenth tractor restoration project, you are undoubtedly excited, enthusiastic and ready to jump into the deep end. Spend a few minutes taking "before" photos of your project from different viewpoints. Documenting the "as is" condition of your tractor before restoration work begins is something you'll appreciate when the transformation is complete.

Now take a deep breath and resist the temptation to reach for your wrenches. First, it's important to gather all of the information necessary to prepare for a streamlined, efficient restoration process.

Make, Model and Serial Number

The critical pieces of information at the beginning of any restoration process are fairly easy to gather: the tractor's make, model and serial number. Also, some tractors have an engine serial number in addition to a tractor serial number, both should be documented. Retailers of original and reproduction parts will need this information to determine if they have parts for your specific tractor.

Make, model and serial number details are usually on the paperwork that accompanies the majority of antique tractor sales. If this is not the case, you can locate the information with a quick inspection of your tractor. The location of your serial number will vary depending on the make and model. You can consult an online resource for tractor enthusiasts or the Steiner Tractor Parts catalog shows the location for many common models.

Fuel Type

The fuel type will have a huge impact on the restoration process. You will need to establish whether your tractor runs on gas, diesel or liquefied petroleum (LP). The purchase papers may include this information, or the tractor may have markings near the fuel tank. Also, diesel engines do not have carburetors normally (there are a few rare exceptions). Diesel engines also will not have spark plugs.

Carburetor Manufacturer Number

It's also very useful to get specific details about the carburetor. You will need to know the manufacturer (Zenith, Holley, Marvel Schebler and others) as well as a specific model number to the carburetor. Typically, this information is contained on a tag on the carburetor or a casting. Examine this critical part carefully and you should be able to come away with manufacturer's name and a model number. Armed with this information, you'll be able to purchase a rebuild kit, a remanufactured carb or a totally new unit.

Engine

The largest component of most tractor restoration projects is the engine. In some cases, you will have already gained some information about the engine from the tractor's previous owner. But it's risky to believe everything you hear about the tractor from the seller. If you are a knowledgeable about engines and general operation, you can inspect the engine yourself.

If you do not possess the knowledge to inspect the engine, hire a certified mechanic who specializes in tractors to inspect the engine for you. A basic engine evaluation will include a compression test, a careful visual inspection to detect cracks and oil leaks, and a check for modified and non-original parts. Whether you're doing this inspection work yourself or relying on an experienced mechanic, the process begins with a thorough cleaning.

Availability Of Parts And Cost

When you have all of the information listed above, you can take the next step in the restoration process. This step is deciding whether or not to complete the restoration or to sell your tractor to someone who is better prepared for the project. Evaluate your finances and the condition of the tractor. Consult with vendors of tractor parts to determine the availability of the parts needed to complete the restoration. Obtain a general estimate of the cost involved. Take all of this information into consideration and determine if you have the necessary budget and desire to complete the project.

Once you have all of the information and parts necessary for your restoration, go for it. Record the restoration process and any information you learned during the build. Have fun and don't forget to share your restoration knowledge and photos with fellow enthusiasts!