SKSD students show TLC to aging machinery

Ah, 1955, it was a very good year. Happens to be the year I was born and the year a certain Ford 640 tractor rolled off the assembly line.

By the time the tractor was donated to South Kitsap High School’s Future Farmers of America by the Blackler family (in memory of Bud Blackler) it was in pretty rough shape. Well who wouldn’t be at 58 years old?

Students in the high school’s agriculture program took the old gal from “ragged” …
Ford 640, old

… to “righteous.”
Screen shot 2013-10-02 at 8.20.49 PM

“The tractor was a mess when we first got it,” reads the school’s entry in the Delo (tractor products somehow related to Chevron gas) tractor renovation contest.

Who knew tractor renovation was so popular with high school students? There were scores of entries, most from states that end in “-ois”, “ana,” “owa,” and “sas.” There were also a lot from Texas, a disturbing number in fact, as you will see.

“Immediately, we started tearing the tractor down, taking every component off until it was completely dismantled.”

This gets a little graphic, here, so those of you with weak stomachs, beware.

“We disassembled the engine and sent the block and head in to be cleaned up and machined. After taking every piece off the tractor, we sandblasted, primed, and painted every single piece individually. We got the engine block and head back assembled, torqued, and adjusted it according to specs. Then, we began assembling the tractor.”

(If only renovating humans were so easy.)

They rebuilt the distributor, starter, generator, and steering box. Amazingly, the carburetor, grill, radiator, water pump, and front fender were the only parts that needed to be replaced.

New tires, a new seat cover and steering wheel (along with some other miscellaneous parts essential to ignition) completed the job.

The students won awards at the Washington State Fair and at a local tractor show, and they put the “Triple Treat” to work, raking and tending hay fields.

Then they entered their tractor in Delo’s annual tractor renovation contest, “established in 1995 to recognize and reward the creativity, technical aptitude and business knowledge of high school-aged students from around the country.

“Participants develop teamwork, project management, budget management, planning and marketing skills. All of these new skills will enable them to become future leaders in the agriculture community,” the fine folks at Delo said.

SKHS submitted before and after pix and a video of their work. According to rules I read in September on the Delo website, voting was to have remained open until Oct. 25. The Triple Threat received 1,611 votes, far better than many, but far behind others, mostly from states ending in “xas.”

Although voting technically is still going on, the judges, in their infinite wisdom, have chosen a dozen finalists, seven of which hail from Texas. Texas is just too darn big, if you ask me.

The judges said, “While all the entries demonstrated the remarkable dedication, determination and teamwork, a few tractors really caught our eye.”

So it’s over for the Triple Treat, just like that. Ah, but she’s a beauty. Yes, 1955 was a very good year.

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