TRAC­TOR TALK

A fam­ily puts the putt-putt back into a neigh­bor’s beloved B.

Farm & Ranch Living - - NEWS - BY DAN RENTMEESTER DEN­MARK, WIS­CON­SIN

Our neigh­bors Er­rol and Lo­rayne Vanseg­gern bought this 1952 John Deere B brand-new from Larsen Im­ple­ment nearby. Lor­raine fell in love with it, but be­cause it didn’t have enough horse­power, they had M&W pis­tons in­stalled so it could make it up all the hills around here. When the Vanseg­gerns re­tired from farm­ing, they sold every­thing but the John Deere B.

When I was 10, my fam­ily learned that the Vanseg­gerns wanted to sell the trac­tor—but they didn’t want it to go to just any­one. My fa­ther and I went to take a look. We bought the trac­tor, cleaned the car­bu­re­tor up, put gas and a new bat­tery in it, and lo and be­hold she fired right up.

As we left their yard, I re­mem­ber Lo­rayne say­ing—and you could see the emo­tion in her eyes—“It’s go­ing to a good home.”

Back home, my dad told me the trac­tor was my birth­day present, and when I was old enough it would be mine. Be­ing a farm kid, I thought that was the coolest gift I could get.

We used it around the farm un­til 2016, when I de­cided to bring new life to it. This was the first time I’d re­stored a trac­tor, so I knew it would be a chal­lenge. But when it came to the B, we wanted to do our best. I did on­line re­search and talked to a lot of peo­ple. The mo­tor was still run­ning and had never been touched, so we left it alone. But I took the rest of the trac­tor apart piece by piece.

My son Monte, who was 5 at the time, wanted to help. He used a wire brush and a screw­driver to re­move years of grease and dirt. He was so proud to help pres­sure-wash it so we could sand­blast the hoods and fend­ers and fix the dents. We sanded and painted un­til we were happy, then we put it back to­gether

with new gauges and wiring and a re­built mag­neto gen­er­a­tor.

With the trac­tor put to­gether, a fam­ily mem­ber found some­one to repli­cate the old Larsen Im­ple­ment and M&W de­cals so that we could pre­serve the trac­tor’s lo­cal his­tory. With help from a neigh­bor, we tuned up the re­built car­bu­re­tor and dealt with some tim­ing is­sues.

Af­ter six months of hard work, the Mighty B made that great twocylin­der putt-putt sound. These days we take the trac­tor to pa­rades and shows, and Monte loves turn­ing the wheel and us­ing the hand clutch.

This John Deere is some­thing my dad gave me, and I’m proud that we re­stored it as a fam­ily. When Monte is old enough, it will be his. And when he drives it and the neigh­bors hear its putt-putt, the Vanseg­gerns can look down and know Lo­rayne’s trac­tor has a good home, and that it’s cher­ished by our fam­ily.

Dan and Monte Rentmeester with the re­stored trac­tor; at right, Dan and his fa­ther, Glenn Rentmeester, took the B apart piece by piece. BE­FORE

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