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Tractor Restoration Hobby Began At Age 10
“My nephew Derek helped me restore a 1955 model IH W-400 Wheatland when he was 10 years old, the age when most kids are into sports and video games. So I guess I’m responsible for his ‘affliction’,” laughs Illinois farmer Matt Frey.
That initial experience sparked a 20-year string of IH tractor restorations, a hobby that’s brought 7 old Farmalls back to like-new condition.
“There’s something very fulfilling about taking a rusty tractor apart bolt by bolt, part by part, cleaning it all up, getting the engine to run and doing a complete restoration,” Derek Frey says. “Those I’ve done have taken 4 to 6 months each, and they’ve all been front-to-back bare chassis restorations,” he adds. Derek still owns the W-400 that he and Uncle Matt worked on, and his other tractors include a 560 Wheatland and a 1971 IH Hi-Clearance 966. Other projects have included a 720 Deere, a 730 Deere diesel and a few lawn tractors.
“When I bought the 966 from Abilene Machine it was a rusted heap with several missing parts,” says Derek. “Originally it was used by a sugar cane farmer in Louisiana.” Over the next 6 months he tore down the engine, put in new pistons, sleeves and injectors, and rebuilt the starter and clutch. “The transmission was okay so when the engine was back together and running it drove just fine,” Derek says.
Derek purchased new wiring, gauges, a seat and muffler. New steering tires on the front and authentic rice tires on the rear along with a sparkling new paint job and decals rounded out his project.
“The 966 is a rare tractor for the Midwest, so it attracts a lot of attention around central Illinois,” says Derek. “My next project is going to be a 706 or 806 diesel, a tractor that was on a lot of farms around here in the 60’s and 70’s.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Derek Frey, Pocahantas, Ill. (ph 618 781-1368; derekfrey@live.com)

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #6