Machine Learning: Kicking Off Project Super C
This is our 1954 Farmall Super C tractor, serial number 197757, which proudly sits in front of the Farmers Business Network office in San Carlos, California. We found it at the site of a former restaurant appropriately named, “The Farmhouse” in Newark, California.
The Super C had been outside the restaurant (as seen in the picture below) since the early 1970s, and had been the victim of rain, bad paint jobs, vandalism, parts scavenging and general neglect. While we know from production records that our Super C was produced in Louisville in August of 1954, we do not know the history of the tractor from then until the time at which it became a restaurant decoration. We do know that the restaurant sits on former farmland, so our Super C might well have worked on the surrounding ground prior to its retirement.
We bought the tractor from the owner of the land. She drove a hard bargain, but we eventually settled on paying her five dollars for the tractor. We then decided to splurge and bought an antique plow from her for another five dollars.
After hauling it 18 miles home on a flatbed, cleaning off the leaking oil (it wasn’t drained when it was retired), and removing the incomplete Wagner hydraulic loader apparatus (as seen in the picture above), the Super C makes a great addition to the FBN office. It gets a lot of attention and is a frequent subject of pictures with visitors to the FBN office and local residents alike.
We are often asked whether we intend to restore the Super C.
From an appearance standpoint, we like its patina of dirt, moss and rust and don’t intend to change that. Incidentally, some have asked whether FBN has now taken sides in the great red versus green rivalry. The answer is a resounding “no” - we maintain our neutrality. The only color we have chosen here is the color of money - if we’d first found a vintage Deere (or Allis-Chalmers, or anything else for that matter) for five bucks we’d have been just as happy to buy that. Besides, if we’re honest, our Super C is more rust colored than red at this point.
In terms of functional restoration, there are two major issues.
The Super C does not roll (we had to drag it with a winch) and it does not run. Investing time and money into a tractor that has been yard art for 45 years may seem a fool’s errand, but count us as fools.
A few weeks ago we began working to get the tractor rolling, which requires:
Investigating and fixing the seized rear wheels and seized gear shifter
Repairing and restoring the brakes (which are in sad shape and are missing parts)
Assessing the steering and repairing as needed
Replacing all rims (structurally unsound due to rust) and tires (rotted out)
Replacing the seat spring (missing) and shock (failed) - not strictly needed to roll the tractor, but needed if anybody wants to sit on it
General maintenance (e.g. replacing the gearbox oil and various leaking seals)
If we are able to get the tractor rolling, we will then look into getting it running, which will be a big project.
At a minimum this requires:
fixing the clutch
overhauling the gas tank (filled with debris and rust) and fuel system
rebuilding the carb
replacing the distributor and ignition coil (which are missing)
re-wiring the tractor entirely (wires frayed or missing)
fixing the radiator (which has a big dent in the fins and debris inside)
replacing the gauges (which are all missing or broken)
overhauling the air intake (missing parts)
replacing all perishable parts (belts, hoses, spark plugs, etc.)
replacing the rusted out manifold
probably an engine rebuild (seized)
And that’s just what we already know about...
Why are we doing this?
Because it is a challenge, because it will be fun and because we will learn along the way. Will we be successful? We don’t know. We may discover something that makes repair extremely difficult or extremely expensive. The seized rear end is particularly concerning and is our first project.
This post is the first in a series about our Super C project so if you are interested, watch this space for the next one.
The FBN team is growing! Join our team in Sioux Falls, SD, San Carlos, CA or in the field supporting farmers face to face.