Restoration Story: 1929 McCormick Deering 10-20

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Restoration Story
1929 McCormick-Deering 10-20
by Randal Simmon

On July 4th 1998 my dad and I was sitting on the front porch when he said that he was going to sell his two 10-20's to a junk man. He said that the junk man was going to give him $500 for both of them but he hadn't received the money for them yet. So I went into the house and wrote him a check for $500 and bought them myself and said now they are mine. He had bought them about five years before thinking that he was going to restore them himself. After five years sitting in the barn, he changed his mind in restoring them knowing that it would be a real difficult task for him to restore. Now they were mine and I couldn't wait to get them home.

In August of 1998 both of them were sitting in my barn waiting for my wrenches to tear into them. One of the 10-20's was a 1929 and the other one was a 1930 10-20. The 1929 was in rougher shape than the 1930 but the 1929 was the one that I wanted to restore seeing that it was the older of the two. Both were on steel and the sheet metal was in rough shape. Both motors were stuck but the motor on the 1929 was in worst shape of them all. It took me a month to free up the pistons on the 1929 and by the end of September I had the engine completely torn down.

While trying to free up the 1929's engine I had to set each cylinder on fire. I would put a cup full of diesel fuel in each cylinder and set them on fire thinking that it would expand the cylinders enough to break the pistons free. I then took an oak block shaped to fit into the cylinders and rest on top of the pistons and with a 10lb heavy hammer my brother and I would hit the block hoping to jar the pistons free. Three out of the four pistons broke free doing it this way but the fourth one had other ideas. It took us six hours of work on that last piston until it finally gave. Once the pistons where out I could now take the crankshaft and the camshaft out of the block.

Once I got into the the push rods I found out that they were also rusted tight and many of the push rods broke off inside the push rod guides. While trying to free up the push rods I broke a few of the push rods guide and found out to my surprise that these guides had holes in them so the water could pass through and around the push rods themselves. At first I thought that they had rusted through but after cleaning them up I had noticed that they were made that way. I still could not believe that the guides had holes in them until after going through the manual I noticed in the book that the guides in the book had holes in them also. So now my thought is, what keeps the water from running into the crankcase? After going to shows and talking to people who had 1020's and posing this question to them they could not answer my question. So I finally pressed the others out along with the others in the 1930 engine, cleaned them up real good and brazed the holes shut. I wasn't going to take any chances on them leaking water in the crankcase once I had it all put together. (While pushing the guides out I just had to break a few of them that is the reason why I had to tear into the 1930's engine.)

Everything seemed to be stuck on the engine. The crank and the camshaft were rusted tight. The main bearings are not your usual type of bearing. They are a ball bearing and I thought that they were going to be hard to find. But to my surprise I could still get them. I had the block and the head taken to a shop where it was dipped in acid, which cleaned the both of them up real nice. Once I had the new crankshaft bearing's, new piston rings, different push rods and the guides brazed shut, the valves ground and new valve springs it was time for me to start putting it back together. It was a lot easier to put it together than it was tearing it apart.

The rest of the tractor had to be torn down. The front wheels on both of the tractors weren't in the best shape so I took the best two out of the four and started repairing them. I do my own welding so it didn't take long and I had both of them looking like new again. So now it was time for the rear wheels to be worked on. They were in good shape so they didn't need too much work done on them except that I did take the lugs off them. I had to take both radiators and make one good one out of them and I had to also purchase a new core for it. Except for the inside of the rear end there was not a single bolt that was not turned. Everything was taken off that tractor.

Thank God for the internet. Not everything could be used on both tractors. Both gas tanks were shot to death by bullet holes. So I went to the internet to start looking for parts. The place where I went to first was (you guessed it) Yesterday's Tractor's. I went to the wanted ads, put my ads in and I got a good response. I purchased most of my parts from people all over the country. All of the parts were sandblasted before painted. I have my own sandblaster so most of the parts I could sandblast myself. The wheels and the main frame of the tractor were sandblasted by someone else who has a larger sandblaster.

The fenders had to be new as the ones I had were in real bad shape. The fenders were made by a co-worker who restores old cars for other people and does his own body fabrication. All the parts were primed and then painted with 3 coats of battleship gray. I don't know what the true color was when it was new, but talking to guy's who have 10-20's they said battleship gray or a darker gray would work. So I went with battleship gray. Since I want to show my tractor in shows and in parades I cut truck tires and put them on the front wheels and cut old tractor tires and put them on the rear wheels.

On July 4th, 2000 two years after I purchase both of the 10-20's the 1929 came to life. It moved on it's own for the first time since, God knows when. It was a great feeling seeing something that was in such poor shape running and moving on it's own power. It took two long hard years to restore this tractor. Someone asked me if I had to do it over would I do it again, and my answer was, yes I would. The tractor is not completely done yet. I still need a hood for it. I have the curtains or sides for it, but need the hood. I want to thank my dad for giving me the opportunity to take such a difficult task like this on. Also my brother Curt and my dad for helping me out from time to time, my neighbor Harry for telling me that it belongs in the junk yard and my wife Kathy for telling me, "It's looking good". Thanks guys.

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