Rebuilding Old Equipment Pays Off

Lar Voss likes the satisfaction he gets from giving a worn-out piece of farm equipment a new lease on life, especially when it’s financially profitable. Buying a John Deere H manure spreader for $350 and selling it for $2,100 makes for a nice profit. All it took was a couple of days, $200 for new tires and $125 for miscellaneous parts.


   Voss admits that you need to be careful when picking a prospective project. Even an experienced hand like him can be surprised, as he was with the spreader.


   “The floor was decent with a few holes to fill in, but a bearing was welded to the axle,” says Voss. “I always expect to have to rebuild gears and put new teeth on sprockets, but that bearing was welded in place.”


   Adding insult to injury, it was a really nice weld, according to Voss, and about an inch deep all around the axle. “It took a lot of acetylene to cut out the weld and the bearing,” he says. “Once we got it loose, we drove it out from the other side and did some grinding to get the new bearing in. The bearing on the other side was fine and just needed grease.”


   Aside from the problem bearing, the spreader fix was straightforward. Voss fabricated a new torsion spring to replace one that was broken. The bar over the beater had been extended vertically for some reason and was bent.


   “They had done a good job on it, so we just straightened it and left it as it was,” says Voss. “Otherwise, we patched holes and repainted.”


   The metal pan on the H was bolted to the side. Knowing any manure getting into the joint would rust it out, Voss sealed it with epoxy. Where the pan had rusted through, he used Gorilla epoxy adhesive between 1/16-in. galvanized steel and the pan. Once the epoxy was in place, he riveted the metals together.


   “Then we crawled underneath and sealed up any holes with more epoxy,” says Voss.

Making a repair job profitable means not doing anything you don’t have to do, like sandblasting away old paint, he explains. “If the paint has bubbled, we grind it away, but if it has just rusted over, we use Corroseal,” says Voss. “It takes away the oxidation and turns the rusted surface into a hard, black material that we can repaint. We sprayed the paint on, so it penetrated any cracks or spaces.”


   Once the job was done, Voss took it back to the auction where he bought it. It is a round trip he has done many times. Sometimes the surprises he encounters are better than with the H.

“I paid $2,000 for a Deere Gator that was listed as inoperable,” recalls Voss. “We hooked up a battery and used the key from our own Gator and drove it on the trailer. We had to replace bent pushrods at $4 each and resold it for $6,000.”


   Voss is fond of IH belt-drive mowers. He can often buy them for around $500. He converts them to a quick-attach hitch, puts a hydraulic cylinder on for lifting the bar, and often resells them for $2,500.


   “Belt drives run at any angle, making them great for mowing ditch banks,” says Voss. “With the hydraulic cylinder, it’s easy to lower them 30 degrees or raise them almost all the way up while still mowing.”


   Sometimes he has to rebuild the sickle bar or rework the wobble box if a bearing has gone out. Whatever minor repairs are needed, when Voss is finished, he has made some money. A piece of farm equipment has had years added to its working life, and a buyer has what he needs for far less than the new price.


   “I don’t know why more farmers don’t do the same,” says Voss. “Many of them have the knowledge, the tools and the time during the off-season. It’s a double win. I make some money, and someone else gets a good working machine.”


   Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Western Land and Water, 27455 County Road 15, Johnstown, Colo. 80534 (ph 970-204-9300;