The Saga of Grandpa's Tractor

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The Saga of Grandpa's Tractor

The following saga is from the Tractor Talk Discussion Forum. Someone is struggling with the decision of whether to buy Grandpa's Farmall M from the person who purchased it 25 years ago. He already has too many tractors, a baby on the way, plus the Farmall is way overpriced. What should he do?

The saga starts with the following message:

Hey guys I have a decision to make. I know what you all will probably suggest and it will probably agree with me way down inside, but here it is. I have a picture blown up and framed in my "tractor room" of a Farmall M. It was my Grandpa's tractor, of which whom I never got to meet. He froze to death getting this tractor out of the barn to pull a truck out of the ditch before I was born. Anyway my dad and aunt had to sell it at the auction, because of financial reasons. My dad has talked about it before and how good a tractor it was, but I figured it was just one of those pride things about his tractor on the farm. So last weekend I finally convinced my dad to go back and look for it. We started at the old man's house who bought it at the sale 25 years ago. He said he no longer had it. That he sold it because it was parked for 5 years and just rusting. I listened as they talked and had the fire built up even more to find it. I was told by the old man and his son which is in his 50's that this M was the strongest one anywhere around. He said you could spin the tires taking off in 5th gear. I began to believe the stories I have heard even more. So we found out who bought it for him and contacted him and he sure enough still has it. The thing is he wants $1500 for it which is quite high for a old M around here. I have too many tractor projects now and a baby on the way, but I just don't think I can pass this one up. If I buy it, it will never be sold again. This will give me a piece of my Grandpa and my dad when he is gone. I can't help not to buy it. What do you all think? The more I sit here the more I want to go look at it right now. I can't wait. I think this is truly one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make in all my 22 years. This will make my 6th tractor and quite possibly the most sentimental thing I will ever own. Sorry to be so long winded. Thanks for your time to read this.

These are some of the replies that were received:

I would say go for it, if nothing else sell another tractor that less sentimental value. Because if you don't you might not get another chance at it. My dad died 2 years ago and the estate sale this fall I kept a farmall b cultivision runs little rough and a JD 1943 a stuck and head cracked don't have time or money to really work on them but woulded trade them for the world. There is to many pieces of my and dad's past on them. So if nothing else sell one of the others so your family ain't strapped down. Good luck Hope you get it.

Seems to me Bill you have already convinced yourself! You are actually lucky to track down that piece of family history ~ and what a history that M has! If I were in your shoes, I would seriously consider parting with one of your five tractors, if possible, in order to obtain that link to your past. I, for example, will do whatever possible to hold on to my dad's original IH 766, the one I grew up with. What's that old saying... "this is a story you will tell your grandchildren" Best of luck to you anyway... But I think you already know what to do!
What will it be worth to you and your child to be able to take them for a ride on their Great-Grandpa's tractor? To have that memory and something they can see and touch that four generations of your family has? Believe it will be worth more to you in the long run than all your other tractors combined. Congrats on finding the tractor and the new one on the way.
You'd better go get that tractor! There is nothing else like having a family members tractor. I recently got my great grandpas F-14 back, and I own my fathers M. I often wonder if my greatgrandpa cussed the F-14 like I've been doing lately. And as for Dads M, I know he did! Only thing Id be aware of and double check on,ask the guy who has it where he got it. Hopefully he will give you the right answer. The only reason I say that is I tried to buy a C that was suppose to belong to my father, come to find out, these two guys got together to try to con me out of my money and to get the tractor out of one of their yards.
This is a little redundant, and just my two cents, but I believe that if you don't buy that tractor, you may regret it for a long time. I have not been blessed with the history of my family in the form of an object like this, but I would buy it if I had the chance. As the others have said, sell one that has no sentimental value for you if you have to, but get it if you can.
Life is funny. As a younger man I could not get far enough from Dads M. Now in my 50s and Dad gone for a long time , I can't get close enough to that ole red tractor. Got it after it had set for years with a stuck motor. As a young boy I used to set on the seat and think about how I would wheel that M around. Now some times I set on the seat and think about Dads big hands on that wheel.You know what the right thing to do is. Just do it!
First off, Congrats on the little one. I too was in your shoes almost 10 years ago. Grandpa's estate sale was the same day my first daughter was born. Dad was going to bid on granpa's F20 for me. I called him on the way to the hospital, and in a moment of highly regretted stupidity, told him not to bid on it. The thought of hospital bills and another mouth to feed was too much. At the time it was the right decision, because of complications during child birth, she was our most expensive child (Over $17,000 in 1990). Looking back, I would have bought that F20 anyway (It brought $1100). I am looking for it now, and it has been sold several times. Buy it, sell off one of your other tractors, finance it, go in halves with other family members. You may not get another chance, and 10 years from now, the yearning the past will only get stronger, and $1500 will seem like an insignificant price to have paid. Consider it a gift to your new born. Good luck and congrats again.
I'm 57 and in my younger days, I was completely in love with my uncle's 46 M. As I got older, I practically lived at his place and finally got to the point where I worked for him for many years putting on MANY hours on that M. Then I went to college and got into non-farm related jobs but always kept in touch. About 15 years ago he and my cousins decided to go Green and Yellow and the M had to go. He offered it to me (I'm ashamed to tell you how low the price was) but for a variety of reasons, I "passed" on his offer. Big regrets---!!! Learn from those of us who have made the mistakes. If there is anyway you can do it, buy that M! One way to look at it is, even though you think that you can't afford it right now, how much difference are you really going to notice in a year? Thanks for listening to my $.02.
I had a chance to get my Grandfathers Super C, and because of distance and cost, (and lack of a place to keep it) I passed, but there isn't a week that goes by that I don't wish I could have purchased it. I never knew my Grandfather, but his farm is still in the family, and I suppose that might become a situation sometime in the future. Buy it, sell one of the others that you're not overly attached to and get it. You may not get the chance again.
Don't wait to buy it. Sell some of your other machines if you need to. You'll kick yourself for YEARS if you don't buy it. My grandfather's 100 was on the verge of being sold when I asked my grandmother if she would consider selling it to me. My grandfather died just after I turned five, so I don't have a lot of memories of him - but this was too special to pass up. My father used it in the hayfields for many years, so he has a special attachment to it, too. He was really pleased I bought it.
Have you ever heard the comment "if my foresight was as good as my hindsight, I'd have done things differently"? You're 22 years old and don't have much hindsight yet. You've heard from a couple of dozen people that are 50+ years old and have lots of hindsight. At 40 years old, I'm in the middle. I'm fortunate, my Dad is still alive (84 years old) and his 1950 JD B and 1940 Farmall A are still in running condition on the old farm. He told my brother and I that he put it in his will for us to have them as joint owners, so I know they'll never get away. However, my Dad traded and older JD B with hand start for the current B with electric start, and my grandfather on my Mom's side had a AC B that was sold long long ago. I have 2 kids (3 1/2 year old twins) and we are on a single income so my wife can raise the kids instead of a day care center. I don't have much, if any, extra money. But, if I ever find either one of those tractors I'll find SOMETHING to sell, beg for the money, borrow the money, get a temporary second job, or do anything short of stealing to get the money! If you don't buy it, then you wasted your time asking our opinions, since everybody recommended you do buy it! However, I agree with some others, make absolutely sure it's the one your grandfather had before you buy it.
My response to you is the same as the other 25!! DO IT! My husband and I had the opportunity to buy the AV that he used on the family farm to rake hay when he was a young man. It has been a decision that neither of us have regretted, although the AV has cost us considerably more than any of the other 9 Farmalls we have, due to a complete overhaul, and other "miscelleanous repairs", he thoroughly enjoyed turning it back into the tractor he remembered! The wonderful thing about it, we are now using it to rake our hay!! As has been said many times before - it you don't get it, you will kick yourself for MANY years!!

The Final Outcome:

old shot of farmall pulling four wheel wagon
The picture of Grandpa's M that hangs on the wall, taken many years ago.
The following message was posted later, and our saga comes to a close...

Here's the picture of my Grandpa's M that I wrote about last night. I went and looked at it today and it is about 10 ten times worse than in this picture. My dad about got sick when he saw it, because they always took good care of it. There was not a lick of paint on it, one tire was flat, and just poor looking sitting there in the weeds. We got the guy down $500 to $1000 and I think we are going to bring the old girl home where she belongs.

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