Industrial team restores vintage tractor for Victoria Livestock Show
Feb. 22, 2014 at 6:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 21, 2014 at 8:22 p.m.
In preparation for the Victoria Livestock Show's ag mechanics competition, components of a 1946 Farmall B tractor lay strewn across one end of Industrial High School's huge shop.
Since August, Aaron De Los Santos, 17, and Levi Perry, 17, have worked on the restoration project with Ardy Tiner, Industrial agricultural mechanics teacher and Future Farmers of America adviser.
"It takes hard work to bring something old back to life," Aaron said. "I wanted to be part of something, learn mechanics and hopefully win."
This is the first tractor project undertaken by Industrial High School in at least six years, Tiner said.
Pat Mercer, a photographer from Inez, owns the vintage tractor, which he uses as a prop for his business.
With the exception of $1,500 worth of tires donated by Titan Tire Corp., Mercer provided the necessary funding for the project.
Mercer also promised a contribution to the school's ag mechanics program.
"The tractor ran but wasn't in great shape," Tiner said. "The body had lots of imperfections, and the engine needed a tune-up."
One of the most formidable and time-consuming challenges was project research, Tiner said.
With a service manual, owner's manual and two parts catalogs ordered online, the students located between 80 and 90 percent original parts for the restoration. Most were found in tractor bone yards in northern states.
The dyes used to create parts in the 1940s were slightly different from those used today, so the students used sandblasting and Bondo to adjust parts that did not line up perfectly.
A $2,800 industrial-size bead blaster donated by the Industrial Education Foundation stripped tractor parts of their old paint in preparation for new coats of paint.
The team also restored the seat mount to its original location on the side and fixed the power takeoff, the source of power for cotton gins, saw mills and other equipment used during the tractor's heyday.
Aaron and Levi worked on the tractor project two hours every day during their ag mechanics classes and three to four hours after school as well as weekends leading up to the show.
"I've learned about gears, gear boxes, bolts, how to buy parts and how to put them on," Aaron said.
The project began with five students in August but dwindled to two in January because of conflicting class schedules.
The work has not been easy.
"We would throw tools sometimes when we were frustrated and didn't know how to fix something," Levi said. "But we figured it out and got it done."