by Clif Bolton

   I bought this old 1959 Case 310 tractor years ago and used it around the "estate" for everything including snow removal, mowing , engine pulling and tree trimming. It came with original industrial loader, rear blade and mower.
About 6-7 years ago I was helping a neighbor clear some land that I had allowed him to grow pumpkins on when a leak in the gas line led to a fire that fried some wiring and burned off some paint.  I dragged it home and decided to restore the old work horse.

    While preparing a section of the garage to use for the project my left hand was inadvertently dragged  into the blade of a table saw causing serious damages to the thumb and three fingers. The months of healing and physical therapy that followed caused the project to be shelved.  After cursing it every time I walked by it and wallowing in self-pity for 3 or 4 years I decided it was time to go forward with the project.   

   My nephew came by to kick the tires on the old Jeep Wagoneer that I had taken in as payment on some back rent. He had been trying to trade me out of it even though it needed a lot of work. It wouldn't run but it got my wheels turning. I began telling him what a great mechanic he was and that he could have it up and running in no time.

   Then, I mentioned my plans to rebuild the old tractor but I was concerned about attempting such an endeavor with my bad hand. Even after I had expounded on his mechanical skills he made no offer to help. Either he was testing his selective hearing abilities or he was simply ignoring me. Either way his failure to respond convinced me that I had to shift gears.

    As a last resort I offered to give him the Jeep if he'd help me rebuild the tractor engine. He walked around the Jeep again, opened and closed  the driver door, looked at my hand and  said "OK". 
   With the sympathy card played and the bartering done the work was begun. I took the head to a local racing engine pro shop where it was completely rebuilt. We removed the engine and disassembled it on the garage floor and in the days to follow I became known on a first name basis with the parts dept. guys at the nearest CASE dealership. And, I must say they were all a really great bunch of guys. 
   After a couple of weeks of evenings and weekends and a few cases of Miller High Life the engine was completed and given a test run. To our surprise and amazement the brand new engine roared to life and purred like a kitten and there was no parts left on the garage floor.

  I helped him winch his "prize" Wagoneer onto a borrowed trailer and I laughed when he remarked that his wife was sure going to be surprised when she saw it since he hadn't told her about our deal. I thought, well I'm not going to be invited over for dinner for awhile.

  I spent a few days admiring the new engine and showing it to my friends and neighbors before pushing it into the corner to make room for the rest of the restoration. I removed the rest of the sheet metal and Desert Sunset parts and got down to the Flambeau Red main tractor parts. I had previously removed the front loader in order to have access to the engine. After using up a couple of bags of blasting sand and a few wire brushes from Harbor Freight the cast iron parts were ready for the paint. The painting went well except I forgot about over spray and everything in the garage including my TR3 and minivan took on a reddish tint. 

  With the main tube, wheels, front end and engine painted I reassembled all and had a much more maneuverable rolling tractor. The rest should be a piece of cake, right. All that was left now to do was the front loader, sheet metal and all the misc. small parts scattered about.

   The sheet metal, fenders, hood etc. was in basically good condition with very minor rust. None the less, I thought I needed to get this project finished up and remembering that a friend had a custom car and restoration shop I loaded all pieces in the minivan and paid him a visit. While he was checking over all the parts I was reminding him of the good times we had when he lived in the neighborhood and what good friends we were.

    All of this sucking-up drew no response from him and he finally rubbed his chin with his body filler dust covered hand and said "yeah, I think we can work it in". Big mistake, I didn't get a price quote since he said "If you're in no big hurry I'll work on it in my spare time and save you some money".
    While waiting for him to do the sheet metal parts I began redoing the front loader. I made another trip to the building supply yard for more blasting sand and to Harbor Freight for more wire brushes. The front loader didn't require a whole lot of labor and all went well with not a great outpouring of capitol until I took all the hydraulic hoses in for new replacements.

    The hydraulic sub-assembly components specialist, hose guy, said "are you sure you want to replace them all"? I said "well I'm in too deep to cut corners now". But, after his calculator stopped spitting out tape and I could see the total I began to doubt my logic. I checked the balance in the checking account that I use for rental property expenses and thought maybe I could write it off as a major equipment maintenance expense.
    A little over a year later my friend from the "custom car emporium" called and said that my parts were ready. It took a moment to remember what parts. Then, when I asked him what I owed him he cleared his throat, grunted, paused and mumbled something. By now I'm thinking this ain't good, the second time he spoke loudly enough to be heard. After having a Redd Foxx moment I finally regained my composure and I remember thinking it could be worse, he could have charged me his prime-time rate.
    Anyway, I stopped by the bank and fed the loan officer some wild story about needing a home improvement loan. I wasn't about to tell him that I had my tractor hood and fenders painted. I picked them up and they were beautiful, too beautiful. I packed each piece in at least two quilts and drove home carefully. After spending far too much time admiring each piece and fearing the thought of inflicting the slightest scratch to any one of them I began the arduous task of installing them.     
    Where did all those lag bolts, clip nuts, washers and misc. hardware go? Besides being an unbelievable source for hard to find items Handy Hardware was also, except for a somewhat minor jog, in route to my favorite pool hall. I might have made a few less trips if I had composed a more comprehensive parts list but I would have missed out on some really great 8 ball games.
     I did this once before with an early 50's Ferguson tractor. I pulled it into the garage to fix the starter and  a few months later I had a showpiece that I  couldn't use. I sold it and bought the 310 workhorse vowing to never again spend that  much time and money on an old tractor.  Yeah, right! 

     Check out the FERGUSON TO-20 TRACTOR  page for more info and

  Clif Bolton  Ferguson TO-20 Tractor    Red Neck Riding Mower    Case 310 Tractor Bud The Road Dog