This is the story of my son Steve. Steve has loved tractors since he was a little boy. He specifically loves his Great Grandfather’s 1955 International Harvester McCormick Farmall 300 tractor. Steve’s great grandfather bought his 37 acre farm in Indiana, in 1947. In 1955 he bought a brand new Farmall 300. He used this tractor until he retired in 1973.
Since then, the tractor spent most of it’s time in a shed. It was driven when we would visit Gramps on weekends and holidays. Endless hours were spent by our four kids and their cousins, driving round and round the barn. By the age of six, young Steve was driving by himself. Eventually he learned to back it up and park it in the shed by himself. Steve would help his Dad with basic maintenance, such as changing the oil and spark plugs.
By 2020 the tractor was still running, but it was leaking fluids constantly. Something had to be done. Steve decided it was time to fix the tractor. He spent a year reading repair, parts and shop manuals. He watched You Tube videos and read forums about repairing and restoring a Farmall 300. Most videos were only twenty minutes long, how hard could it be? Steve requested “C4TP”, cash for tractor parts, for his birthday and Christmas. There was only one problem, Steve lives in Chicago. He would have to work on the tractor in his garage, in Chicago. His wife agreed to give up her parking in the garage.
In September of 2021, Steve rented a trailer and brought the tractor home to Chicago. He got many strange looks as he drove it through the streets of Chicago. He immediately had to remove the muffler so that it would fit into his garage. He took apart the tractor. He bagged and labeled every last piece of the tractor. You would never know there was a tractor in the garage by the time he was done disassembling the whole tractor. Steve cleaned 66 years of grease, dirt and grime off all the parts. Each piece was then inspected, replaced or rebuilt. His six year old son Jack spent lots of time helping his Dad. Jack was the shop crane operator.
For two years Steve worked on the tractor in his garage in his spare time. His wife Gina, referred to the tractor as “The Mistress” in the garage, because this is where Steve spent most of his free time. Steve rebuilt the engine, PTO, cooling and charging systems and the torque amplifier. He replaced seals, bearings, and the brakes. He rewired the electrical system. Some of the parts were rebuilt more than once due to trial and error. The only part that he didn’t have to replace or rebuild was the starter! Steve was very surprised at how easy it was to obtain replacement parts. Steiner was instrumental in supplying parts. One day, the door bell rang. Gina answered the door. The Fedex driver was on her porch. He said he had a special delivery for her. He laughed, and said this was the first time he ever delivered tractor tires in Chicago! Where did she want them? In the garage, of course!
After a year and a half , it was beginning to look like a tractor again. Neighbors were surprised to see an old tractor driving in the alleys and streets of Chicago, where Steve did his test drives. Lots of pictures were taken of the old Farmall. Steve did not repaint the tractor. He figured that would take at least another year. He claims he likes the original patina. Or maybe Gina wanted her garage and husband back.
Looking back on his two years of work, Steve said his parts cleaner was his most useful tool. Sixty six years of grease, dirt and grime is a lot of cleaning. It’s amazing, once taken apart, how many nuts, bolts and springs there are in a tractor! Steve loved the experience of restoring and rebuilding the Farmall 300 tractor. To the delight of Steve’s wife and three kids, plus all his extended family, the tractor was brought back to the farm Oct 2023. Many hours were spent driving the tractor round and round the barn on it’s first weekend back. Steve is now thinking about restoring the 1967 Chevy pickup that is on the farm. Just don’t tell his wife!
If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!