Project Super C, Stuck Shifter Part 2

FBN Network

Sep 18, 2018

This is the fifth post in our ongoing series on Project Super C. We are chronicling the rehabilitation of our 1954 Farmall Super C tractor, which has taken up residence outside of the Farmers Business Network office. If you are new to this series, please start with the introduction to the project in our first post.

In our last post, we got the gear shift lever and the associated fork and rails apparatus out of the tractor, only to discover that they were very badly rusted:

This time, we are trying to restore these parts to functional condition, which we are not at all sure is possible given their degraded state.

We started with the fork and rails (second picture above), which is made up of five pieces of metal, all of which were fused together by rust. First, we took a wire brush to them in order to get off surface rust. Then we scraped and chipped at the rust in an attempt to remove big flakes. After some limited success doing this, we soaked the entire apparatus in Evapo-Rust® for 24 hours which removed some rust and made the remaining rust more brittle. More chipping, more scraping, more soaking in Evapo-Rust® and some hammering finally removed enough rust so that we were able to separate the five pieces, exposing yet more rust that had been hidden. We continued scraping and chipping, but now added a Dremel tool with a grinder bit to the repertoire, which helped us grind out metal that had turned to rust. All told, we spent many hours on this project over the course of several days, finally yielding this result:

Amazingly, all of the rust is gone and the rails are able to slide back and forth again! However, the rust had consumed some of the metal, as can be seen in the picture below, and it isn’t clear whether the apparatus will still function correctly.  

We now turned our attention to the shift lever. We gave it much the same treatment as the rails, and removed all of the visible rust, as well as, unfortunately, some of the original metal. Removing the rust also revealed that within the bulb of the lever, there is an inset cylinder, whose job is to rotate to allow the shifter to be tilted side to side (we’ll talk more about why that matters in the next post). Below is a picture of the lever with the rust removed and the inset cylinder plainly visible. In the picture you can also see how lumpy the remaining metal looks, which is a result of the removal of the metal that had rusted.

The inset cylinder was, surprise surprise, fused by rust to the shift lever and thus unable to rotate. We tried penetrating oil, we tried hammering it with a punch, but it held firm. Finally, we used a torch to heat the metal around the cylinder, which expanded it and allowed us to punch out the cylinder:

Having removed the cylinder, we cleaned the rust off of it and the inside of the bulb where the cylinder goes. This allows the shifter to correctly pivot forward/back and left/right as you can see in this GIF:

We had now removed all of the rust and re-enabled the basic movement of all of the parts. From where we started, this is great progress and frankly it came out much better than we expected. While there is reason to be optimistic that the shifting mechanism will work again, we aren’t out of the woods yet -- we’ve lost a lot of metal to rust damage, and we don’t know if that will prevent it from functioning correctly.

In the next post, we will reassemble the shift mechanism on the tractor and find out if it works!

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FBN Network

Sep 18, 2018