Old tractors

Hammers to Chainsaws

Old tractors

Postby Rich » 26 Feb 2010 06:30

I know I have seen some past discussion about this topic. So who has old tractors or has experience working on them? I may have a lead on a 1940 Farmall model A complete with snow plow, single-turn plow, and mower deck. I think it's in running condition with a nice paint job and new tires but I don't have any real details on it.

I did find this info about the model in general:
User avatar
Posts: 2323
Joined: 23 Feb 2009 06:50
Location: East coast

Re: Old tractors

Postby Joe » 27 Feb 2010 08:14

I want a tractor.
If it was me, I'd take two of my "tractor buddies" with me and let them tell me if it was good to go or not.
User avatar
Viking Chieftain
Posts: 6274
Joined: 20 Mar 2008 08:34
Location: CONUS - usually

Re: Old tractors

Postby mosby's men » 27 Feb 2010 09:17

one of the guys at work has been used tractor shoping . he said you can find parts for farm alls cheap because
they have been making them so long .
he also said if the tractor has been setting up for a long time you need to tear it down and rebuild it .
2004,2005,2006,2007.2008,2009,2010,2011 ,2013,2014,2015 national winter B.O.B event
2009,2010 viking fest
2011 G.O.T'S
User avatar
mosby's men
Viking Moderator
Posts: 2971
Joined: 21 Mar 2008 18:23
Location: southron , louisiana

Re: Old tractors

Postby backwoodschemist » 27 Feb 2010 15:27

The Farmall A is kinda small, but it’s a good tractor.
I couldn't tell you what the value of it is, but it should run, tires should be good, clutch should work. Look for oil leaks on engine and around wheel hubs and axles.

Since it's a 70 year old piece of equipment there will be lots of wear on any moving pats especially anything outside of the engine.

Does the radiator leak?
Belts and hoses?
Throttle linkage
Governor linkage
Plugs, wires, points, condenser
Carb (the throttle shaft seal to the carb housing)
Steering, does the gear box leak? Is the steering linkage tight? Is there much play in the steering wheel?

Pull the dipstick, check the engine oil, does it look milky (coolant leaking into engine), does it smell like gasoline (excessive cylinder wear, or some times leaking fuel pump)
Does it smoke when running? Black or white smoke? Idle, under load, constantly

Take off the radiator cap, is the radiator full of coolant? If not, there might be a leak, or tractor is poorly maintained.
Is the water pump leaking?

Test the hydraulics, do they go up and down with and without load, is the reservoir full? Does it make any strange noises? Leaks?

Can you drive it around? Is it comfortable? Is it easy to operate? Visibility

Is this tractor going to do what you want it to do? Will you be able to work on it, or will you need to call someone?

How will you get it home?

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but taking a good hard look at both the tractor and your reasons for wanting one will prevent disappointment latter.

BTW I have two tractors ( Ford 8N and Ferguson TO-20) that see much use. I find them very handy to have and not too expensive, but you have to budget for things like fuel, oil, plugs, filters, tires, batteries and other normal wear items. I do all of my own wrenching, but the old tractors are very simple and make a good learning experience for beginners of all ages.


Re: Old tractors

Postby Rich » 29 Mar 2010 18:03

The tractor is mine and came free. It has carb issues so I'm not sure if it will start. Looks like it was restored about 10 years ago. When I have some time this summer I may try to look at the carb. Hopefully it's just a gasket issue. If not I hope I can find someone that still works on them. If nothing else it will be a fun project for the future.

A long time ago I wondered what was wrong with carbs. Then I bought an truck that had one. Now I appreciate fuel injection everytime I crank up a newer car.
User avatar
Posts: 2323
Joined: 23 Feb 2009 06:50
Location: East coast

Re: Old tractors

Postby Cache Creek » 29 Mar 2010 20:00

I feel your pain about the old stuff. One time my Grandpa was working on the old "M", said it was missing on one cylinder. I couldn't hear it. So he took off the second plug wire and I still couldn't hear a problem (there's only 4 cylinders). He just shook his head and went back to cleaning plugs with a piece of baling wire. Some have talent, I don't. That said, I can break things and keep breaking things until I figure out what's wrong and start to fix things. I still haven't gotten over how a carberator will freeze over, with actual frost on the carberator, on a 100+ degree day and pulling hard, one inch away from a red hot engine. Good luck, let me know if you need someone to break things until you figure out what wrong.
Cache Creek

Re: Old tractors

Postby Sprint » 29 Mar 2010 21:16

I've got a 1946 model A that I restored some years ago. Parts are still readily available. They're easy to work on - they were designed in a time when a farmer expected to all of his own maintenance and most of his own work (in the field, in the mud.)

That particular model has a weakness in the block behind the carb - if the water has been allowed to freeze there's a good chance that there will be a longish crack in the block. You'll see water or marks where the water has been leaking there. Also there's a freeze plug behind the fly wheel and the tractor must be split to access. Not hard, but on the other hand not a job for the faint of heart. It's a sleeved engine so replacing cylinders and pistons is no trouble.

Getting it with implements is a good thing - hard to find 'em. Mine has a Woods 59 mower deck. Works good in big open areas. Not good for maneuvering around lawn obstacles though.

I'd like to find a snow/gravel blade for mine.

Re: Old tractors

Postby Rich » 01 Apr 2010 06:05

Spring, that is some excellent information. Do you have any recommendations regarding a manual/book? How hard is it to adjust the carb? Is it a single jet? I think the current carb issues have to do with a leaking gasket which should be an easy fix. Adjusting a single jet would also be relatively easy. My last carb'd truck had two jets and the idle was very easy to set correctly.
User avatar
Posts: 2323
Joined: 23 Feb 2009 06:50
Location: East coast

Re: Old tractors

Postby backwoodschemist » 01 Apr 2010 08:29

Try these guys out for parts, I’ve ordered from them with good results.


If you have the Marvel-Schebler Carb (non Zenith) it tends to be prone to wear on the throttle shaft where it enters the carb body. Check right on the carb behind the throttle linkage. If worn, the general fix is a new carb. I bushed mine with good results but the new carb is a better bet.

Carb is a single jet setup with an idle needle screw and a power needle. It should be just about the easiest carb to adjust if it isn't totally gummed up or leaking at the throttle shaft.

If you start the tractor and spray some WD40 around the throttle shaft and the engine changes idle, suspect a shaft leak.


Re: Old tractors

Postby Sprint » 06 Apr 2010 19:46

Rich wrote:Spring, that is some excellent information. Do you have any recommendations regarding a manual/book? How hard is it to adjust the carb? Is it a single jet? I think the current carb issues have to do with a leaking gasket which should be an easy fix. Adjusting a single jet would also be relatively easy. My last carb'd truck had two jets and the idle was very easy to set correctly.

Sorry for the delay - lots of things going on around here just now.

I have an I & T shop manual that's served well. Not as involved as a true IHC manual but it's proven invaluable.

The carbs really are pretty simple. I rebuilt mine once and found that it was a bit easier than most of the Briggs & Strattons that I've overhauled. Mostly 'cause all the parts are bigger. My tractor has a fixed jet and tends to run a tad rich. I don't recall ever adjusting anything beyond turning the idle set screw.

Are you sure it's the carb? Most of my experience has turned out to be the magneto. Is it in time? Does the impulse coupler trip (click) when you roll it over? Does it produce a nice strong spark when it aught? It's really easy to get the distributor timing gears 180-d out of phase. Also, under the black cap on the top of the mag, there's a coil with a connection point on it - that has a bad habit of rotating around a little and stops making contact with the pick up. No spark is the result. And a note about mags in general: never separate the coil and the magnet(s). They need to stay in very close proximity of each other or some bit of magical something gets away and you have to send it to someone skilled in the art of magneto repair. Sort of like the smoke in a Lucas wiring harness.

As for the carb, there's a small screen filter/insert behind where the fuel line connects in. You might want to check that isn't clogged or something. Also, and I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but is the fuel tap open? (I do that about once a year - get the thing started and going and then sputter . . sputter . . . ) Old tractors generally have accumulated a lot of crud and rust in the fuel tank and is often the direct cause of a whole wealth of problems. I'd look at these things before even speculating about a carb kit. If you open the fuel tap, and remove the bolt from the bottom of the carb, you should get a nice steady stream of fuel. When I first started with this little jewel you wouldn't believe how often I overlooked that simple test and spent a lot of time and effort chasing some other problem when the real issue was a clog or something in the lines. Shine a light down in tank and verify no sediment or rust problems. An air bubble will sometimes form on the top of the sediment bowl, might look for that too.

I can tell when all is well with the fuel system when I'm cranking the engine - you can smell the atomized gas in the exhaust. That carb is such a simple design; my starting problems are almost _always_ ignition! If I'm rolling it over by hand I'll only choke it for three or four pulls or it floods out and you'll never get it to start. It's best to park it on a hill and use kinetic energy for a starter 'cause the battery is always dead and the alternate starter (me) gets a bit cranky. (If you'll pardon the pun.)

There's a place over in Farley Mo just off 45 highway that will work on old Farmalls and sell you all the parts you might want. My fav., H. H. Halferty's in Smithville stopped dealing in Case/IHC I'm sorry to say. They were pricey sometimes, but they never gave me any guff and always found what I needed (often had it on the shelf.)

Good luck! You've got a good hard working little machine there.


Return to Tools

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest