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1955 Deere 420C "Track-Tor" Gets Big-Time Tune-Up
When the rockershaft casting broke on his 1955 Deere 420C track-type tractor, Frank Ziegelmann of Colfax, Calif., replaced it with a welded-up angle iron framework.
    He also made several other key modifications to the tractor, including adding a hydraulic multi-outlet block that allows him to perform multiple functions on both front and back of the tractor.
    "This is a popular tractor - anyone who owns one doesn't want to part with it. The changes I've made converted it into a much more versatile working tractor," says Ziegelmann.
    The rockershaft had already broken twice, and Ziegelmann got tired of welding it back together. "The only replacement rockershaft I could find was one that had been repaired. They wanted almost $2,000 for just the casting alone."
    His solution was to use 4-in. angle iron to build an upside down U-shaped frame, which he bolted on in place of the original casting. Then he unbolted the original rockershaft assembly from the tractor's final drive and differential housing, pulled the shaft out of the casting, and installed the rockershaft in the new frame. Both ends of the rockershaft bolt to the tractor's original outrigger yoke arms and run through a pair of bearings made up by a local machinist.
    "It looks exactly like the original but is built much stronger. It should last a lifetime," says Ziegelmann.    
    The bottom part of the tractor's 3-pt. is equipped with a ball hitch, allowing Ziegelmann to pull a scraper or even a small disk. A vertical cylinder that he added to the right side of the 3-pt. linkage is used to change the angle of the blade. Extending the cylinder causes one side of the blade to go down, which sets the blade at an angle. "It works great for cleaning out ditches," says Ziegelmann.
    A big cylinder on the left side of the tractor is used to raise or lower the 3-pt.'s lower lift arms.
    Three levers mounted on the tractor's right fender are used to control all hydraulic operations. One hose goes to a hydraulic cylinder that he mounted on the center link of the tractor's 3-pt. hitch. "The center link connector is used to adjust the angle of the 3-pt.'s top link. Originally, you had to turn a crank up or down to adjust it. Now all I do is pull a hydraulic lever," says Ziegelmann.
    The front of the tractor is equipped with 6-ft. wide blade fabricated by a local shop. The blade can be raised or lowered by a hydraulic cylinder that he added on front of the tractor. The top part of the blade bolts onto mechanical linkage that also bolts to the tractor. Blade angle is adjusted by changing the position of a steel pin in the linkage.
    The blade is supported by a steel frame that goes all the way back to the tractor's main frame between the tracks.
    The blade can be replaced with a 4 1/2-ft. wide, 2-ft. high bucket. To dump the bucket, Ziegelmann removes the mechanical link and replaces it with another hydraulic cylinder. "I've moved a ton of dirt with the bucket," says Ziegelmann. "I can raise it only about 1 ft. high. But by driving up a ramp I can get high enough to dump into a truck."
    The last change Ziegelmann made was for comfort. He replaced the tractor's original metal and leather seat with a large, comfortable one that he bought at an office warehouse. He also made a frame to fit the 4-bolt pattern that had secured the original seat. "The seat can be slid forward or backward on a homemade hinge, and secured in place with a pin," notes Ziegelmann.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Magazine, Frank E. Ziegelmann, 19009 Geisendorfer Rd., Colfax, Calif. 95713 (ph 530 878-0892).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #6