Retirement project ready to hit the road
Marvin Crom, left, one of the faithful volunteers at the Farm And Ranch Museum near Gering, was chosen by John Smith, right, to over haul the engine of his 1938 Minneapolis Moline tractor. Crom began working on the engine in March, and the elite model is ready to participate in the Tractor Relay Across Nebraska this weekend.
By SANDRA HANSEN
When John Smith retired from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center last year, there was no question what he was going to do with his spare time. He had a 1938 Minneapolis Moline tractor, including a cab, waiting for some special attention. This weekend was his first long-distance journey in the dull yellow, rusty fendered machine.
Smith and his tractor joined the Tractor Relay Across Nebraska event at Bridgeport Sunday morning, and drove to the final stop of the cross-country relay at Lyman later in the day.
Smith and the MM got acquainted after he found it sitting in Canada in 2006. He knew then that he would be retiring before too long, and had been looking for a good retirement project. This dilapidated machine was perfect for his purposes. Since bringing it home to the Nebraska Panhandle, Smith had only put on new tires, and let it sit while he gathered parts. Then the relay idea came up and he decided this would be a good time to get the old timer on the road.
Marvin Crom, a whiz with engines, agreed to take on the project, and in March this year, began over hauling this one at Marvís FARM Shop, his special facility on the grounds of the Farm And Ranch Museum west of Gering. Both men were eager to see it on the road, and spent a lot of time the past couple of weeks making sure it would be ready.
Although Smith doesnít intend to go overboard during his first run in the MM, he expects to have a good experience. It doesnít have the new yellow paint of 64 years ago, and the three wipers donít work on the three-part windshield, but the tractor has a lot to offer. It was advertised as being able to reach 40 miles per hour.
Its rusted and banged up fenders show that it earned its keep. The original bumper is gone. Smith said they were removed because they were in the way, and farmers took them off to use the fenders for pushing.
The cab idea was intended for use especially in the northern states such as North Dakota and Minnesota, supposedly for two reasons: the farmerís wife could ride to town to a movie, and a lot of those farmers were also mail carriers. The 6,400-pound monsters would be good for plowing through snow and mud.
But the $2,200 idea didnít attract enough buyers, and after one year, the models were discontinued. Those that had not been sold were returned to the factory where they were down scaled to the standard model, which sold for about $1,100. Even the five-gear transmission was revamped. The original fifth gear was designed to over-ride the governor on the engine so it would run faster only in fifth gear.
These dryland model tractors had a lot of specialty features, but they just werenít what the day-to-day farmer needed. Consequently, few have survived. Smith said there are three in this area, but his is one of the last that he knows of that hasnít been restored. Heís debating on how far to go in restoring this one.
ďIím taking it slow,Ē Smith said last Wednesday. ďI donít want to mess it up.Ē
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