Welcome to our Farmall B tractor story
7/23/03: Carolyn and I were driving through the neighborhood and I spotted an old Farmall sitting under a tree in a guy's back yard. We drove up his driveway and I asked him if it was for sale. He did not want to sell it, but after a little conversation, he though he might, after all. The guy and I talked a while and we went out and looked at it, to see if it was stuck or not, as he said it had been sitting for a while. It was stuck, and the value went down. It was a Farmall B with a sickle bar mower and a single front tire. I offered him what I thought it was worth, he took it. The serial number is FAB16531, which makes it a 1940 model, born on February 28, 1940 (almost one year to the day before our John Deere model B). It has no electrical at all, and the bell housing was cast without an opening for a starter motor.
8/30/03: Pat Noonan and I drove over with his truck and our trailer to get it. We pulled it up on the trailer, and the pictures in Gallery 1 are what it looked like when we got it home.
9/7/03: Pat and I moved the tractor into the garage and removed the mower. We found the left rear axle housing was cracked at the brake area. Because it had the mower, there is no drawbar. I will start looking for one.
10/04/03: Pat Noonan and I took the tractor apart today. We filled the radiator with water to see if it leaked, and found water pouring out of the bell housing. I suspect the freeze plug on the back of the engine is leaking. the radiator seems to be fine. The sheetmetal came off pretty well, and the only damage is a little rust on the hood and the bottom of the grill, which was rusted out pretty bad. We took off the valve cover, oil pan and manifold. And when we did, we found rust, more rust, and water. The oil pan had a couple of quarts of water and a couple of quarts of very thick oil in it. The valve cover area was very rusty and the rocker arms were stuck.
We took the head off and found the cylinders full of water, sand and rust. The head is so rusty, the valves are stuck in the guides. I pounded them out with a hammer. Man, this engine is shot. We rigged up some 2X8 legs, bolted them to the bell housing, and lifted the front up to get the front tire off of the floor. We then removed the radiator, fan, hoses and all of the front end casting with the steering mechanism all the way up to the steering wheel. To do that, we removed the steering shaft bearing at the top of the steering wheel post. We then rigged the engine hoist to the engine with a chain and removed the engine. After removing the clutch and flywheel, we placed it on the engine stand.
We turned the engine upside down and removed the oil pump. We removed the front and rear filler pieces, which we found to be cracked, and they fell apart into several pieces. We removed the rear oil seal and found it to be cracked as well. These parts are made of what I would call "pot metal", kind of a silvery zinc casting. We removed the connecting rod nuts and bolts, the main cap bolts, and then lifted the crank shaft out of the block. We found the center main cap broken into two pieces and the center crank journal was rusted and pitted.
The sleeves are very rusty on the bottom, too. We tried hitting them with a wooden plank and an 8# hammer, but they will not budge. The pistons are stuck pretty well too. This is a job for a press. Our diesel pickup truck club is going to have a shop day next month, so I will do it then. Click here for pictures of the engine.
12/06/03: We took the engine to the shop where we removed the head studs and then pressed out the liners and pistons. One of the guys had a big pry bar and he got the cam shaft loose enough to turn so we could get the retaining bolts out. I will take the block and crank to a shop and have them checked out after it warms up a bit. Right now the garage is too cold to work on tractors, so that is it for a while. I called a friend who owns some Farmalls, and he said that he had a few parts that although they are used, are better than what I have now.
12/07/03: Carolyn and I went to the Will County Thresherman's Association Christmas Dinner. The friend who has the Farmalls gave me a Christmas present: A used center main cap and a oil pan filler piece.
1/12/04: I took the block and crank to Service Masters in Romeoville. They guy there works on a lot of tractor engines. I will check back in a couple of weeks.
2/5/04: I found a guy who has a drawbar for sale and he lives in northern Indiana. We set up a meeting point in Hammond, Indiana and I got the drawbar from him for $75.00.
2/10/04: I got a call today about the engine. The crank is in pretty good shape. He said that the cvrank is only worn a couple of thousandths on the front journal. All the rest are fine after polishing, even the center main that was pitted. The guy said it will just have a little extra oil passage, that is all. The bad news was that the block is cracked pretty bad. The water jacket has a crack about a foot long in two places.
2/20/04: I picked the block and crank up today. Man is it cracked. I guess with the dirt and grease all over it, I could not see the crack. We were not able to get it to hold water because of the freeze plug leak, so I missed seeing it then, too.
2/21/04: Carolyn and I head down to Florida for the Florida Flywheeler Show. The feature tractor is IHC, so perhaps I can find some good parts.
2/29/04: We got home from Florida, and I have head with valves in it, a good rear oil seal plate and filler pieces to replace the broken parts.
3/20/04: I took the carburetor apart today to clean it. It was filled with rust and the choke and throttle are stuck. I got a gallon of hydrochloric acid at the hardware store and soaked the bottom in a mixture of one gallon of water and one quart of acid. It started to bubble a little after a few minutes. I checked it in an hour and it was doing just fine. I took it out after a couple of hours and rinsed it off in a bucket of water, then hosed it off to get all of the acid off of it. I looked it over and half of the rust was dissolved, so I repeated the process for another two hours. After the second soaking, I was able to get 95% of the rust off, and I was able to get the choke plate and shaft out. I also removed the main jet and the economizer jet. I put it back in the acid for another hour and gave it a final rinse. I was able to see bare metal with a slight rust stain almost all over the casting. I drilled out the passage ways with a small drill, twisting it with my fingers. I rinsed it out again and put the jets back in. The top is a different story as it has an aluminum venturi, and that can not take much acid, as it will dissolve. I put it in for a few minutes and it fizzed like an Alka-Seltzer. I rinsed it off and the venturi was clean. I tried to remove it, but it will not come out, and I can not take it apart without getting the rust off of it. So I am stuck. No acid until the aluminum part is removed, and I can't take the aluminum part out until I soak it in acid. I started cleaning the rest of the small parts and found that the rocker arm center pedestal is cracked. I put a bid in at eBay on a rocker arm, cam and cam gear. The starting price for all three parts is under $15.00.
3/27/04: I began cleaning the governor. It was just dirty, but the inside was rusted. The thrust bearing was stuck, but I was able to work it loose. The drive gear had rust in the teeth, so I wire brushed it and soaked it in solvent to get it clean. I tried some new rust remover that has Oxalic acid in it. I sprayed it on and waited a minute and rinsed it off, like the instructions said. It did a pretty good job removing light surface rust and rust stains. I won the rocker arm, cam and gear auction today. The parts are on the way. I am now bidding on some carburetors.
4/6/04: The rocker arm, cam and gear arrived today. I have lost several bids on carburetors, but one or two pops up every day. I am bidding on another one right now.
4/10/04: I won a really good looking carb on eBay and it should be here in less than a week. I reworked the rocker arm assembly, removed a little rust with a wire brush and some very fine sand paper. It was missing an end washer and c-clip, which I took from the original one.
4/15/04: The carb arrived today and it is a real beauty. I have to move the fuel fitting and choke from the old one to this one as they are missing. I took the oil pump apart and cleaned it up. The oil pickup float was stuck, and I got it free with a little work.
4/16/04: I put a message on the Farmall part of the ATIS email lists asking for advise on my cracked block and if anyone has one available. I got an answer back that a block is available from a guy who lives in Monee, Illinois, just a few miles south.
4/17/04: I bought the block this morning and took it to a machine shop. It has two broken studs, one has been boogered up and needs professional attention The block had a good cam and gear in it, too! When I got home from the shop I ground in the valves from the original head into the new head I bought in Florida, as they were better valves. I assembled the head and put it aside for later.
4/18/04: I took the old carburetor choke shaft and plate out and installed it in the new carb. I also put the fuel fitting in the carb body.
5/8/04: I picked the block up at the machine shop today. I put it on the engine stand and started cleaning it up and getting it ready to go back together. I re-tapped all of the holes and cleaned all of the oil from the crankcase. I noticed that the block is from a Farmall C and it is in the 1948 serial number range. It has a hydraulic pump mount on it and I will have to put a blanking plate over the hole.
5/9/04: I miked the main bearings on the crankshaft and found they varied by a couple of thousandths from standard and that the middle main was the smaller on of the three. I ordered the overhaul kit today from my Farmall friend in Morris. I ordered standard bearings, flat top pistons and a full gasket kit.
5/18/04: Pat took the sleeves, pistons and rods to Bill Peak's shop to press the stuck pistons out. Bill said that would take too long, so he cracked the sleeves off with a couple of blows with a hammer. Then he drove the wrist pins out. total job : 10 minutes.
5/22/04: Carolyn, Pat and I went to the Yorkville tractor show today after stopping to pick up the engine parts from my friend who lives in Morris, Illinois. We will start on the engine tomorrow.
Click here to see all of the pictures