How do I Restore an Old Tractor?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

The restoration of old farm equipment is a task that requires a commitment of time, talent, and finances. Often, an old tractor is brought back to pristine condition as a business venture. Sometimes the restoration is a labor of love. In any event, there are a few things to keep in mind if you have an old tractor that you wish to restore.


One of your first tasks when restoring old farm machinery is to assess the current condition of the equipment. This includes checking the condition of the frame, the control panel, the steering mechanism, and the motor. The condition of the tires, rims, and axle system is also very important. Taking the time to thoroughly inspect the old tractor makes it possible to determine if it is even possible to restore the equipment and if so what will be needed for the job.

After determining what will be needed in the way of replacement components, your next step is to secure everything you need to complete the project. Fortunately, the Internet has made it much easier to locate authentic components for many different makes and models of brand name tractors. Finding parts for old John Deere® and Farmall® tractors usually requires nothing more than spending some time looking through salvage web sites and spending some time on message boards devoted to antique tractors. You may even be lucky enough to find what you need at an online auction site.

While waiting for your replacement components to arrive, it is possible to move forward with cleaning the existing components on your old tractor. As part of the process, wash the frame thoroughly to remove all dirt and other residue that may have built up over the years. This will allow you to identify any rust on the frame and take care of that problem before sanding, painting, and sealing the restored paint job on fenders, panels, and other painted surfaces of the equipment. At this point, you can also take the time to break down the engine and thoroughly clean each of the parts, restoring them to a condition that is like new.

Once the parts are on hand, you can move on to the most labor-intensive portion of the restoration. This will involve removing the components that are no longer usable and integrating the new parts into the used tractor. Hopefully, you were able to acquire period components that are contemporary with the make and model of your tractor. This will help to keep the value of the tractor higher in the minds of collectors, which may be important if your plan is to sell the restored tractor.

Keep in mind that restoring an old tractor is not a one-weekend project. In most cases, you can plan on spending quite a few hours in each stage of the process, beginning with the inspection and moving all the way to completing the restoration. However, it is important to take your time and pay close attention to many small details, such as using the right color and shade of paint for an authentic look. Restoring tractors, like restoring any cherished item, is a task that must be completed on its own time and not rushed. Taking your time will not only produce a higher quality restoration, but also provide you with many hours of satisfaction in the long run.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Drentel - Be prepared to invest a hefty sum of money in restoring the old farm tractor. It's crazy, but buying the individual parts can cost more than the entire tractor with all the parts already in place.


@Drentel - This article mentions that you can find old tractor parts online that you can buy to restore your daddy's old tractor like you were writing about, but you may find that some of the prices on these parts are more expensive than they are worth.

I have found that I can find a lot of old vehicle parts, including old tractor parts, at flee markets. You'd be surprised at some of the things you can find at flee markets, and in the case of tractor parts you can surely get them for less money at a flee market than you can buy them for online.

Another thing you can do is drive around in the country and find old farms where people have old barns and sheds. A lot of times these buildings will be filled with old tractor parts and you might be able to find something you need. Sometimes the people will practically pay you to get rid of the old parts.


My father grew up in the country during a time when the majority of families did some type of farming whether it was primarily for income or to put food on the table. He farmed for a living up until he figured out he could earn better wages and better support his family by taking a full-time job year 'round in the local mill.

When he started farming, he and his family used mules rather than tractors, so you can imagine how much he valued the first tractor he ever owned. Long after he stopped farming he still used to work on that tractor to keep it in running condition. At some point he stopped working on it, but it is still under a shelter at the old farm.

I've decided to see about restoring the old tractor to see whether I can get it back to working condition, and get it back to the point where it looks like more than a rusty old tractor. I think my daddy would have liked to have seen that.

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