Efforts to restore an antique tractor are ‘worth it all’Published 6:59pm Friday, June 6, 2014
What an amazing thing it is to dream of something for so long and then have that dream come true.
Rogers Powell’s dream has come true but it didn’t happen overnight. It took years of wishing and hoping and a trainload of patience to make his dream a reality.
“But it was worth the time and effort and the wait,” Powell said Friday, with a smile of satisfaction.
Powell didn’t say how long he waited for his dream to come true or the price tag attached to the dream, only “it was worth it all.”
“It’s a Case, a 1951 Case,” Powell said as he approached the bright orange tractor housed in his carport. “I farmed with this tractor between Honoraville and Rutledge. Farmed cotton and peanuts with it. I farmed my daddy’s land with it and my wife’s daddy’s land with it – about 200 acres west of Rutledge.”
Powell said the Case in point was that he had several good years on the farm. Then, there was a year when he didn’t make a dime.
“Drought and rain,” Powell said. “It was too dry and then it was too wet. I didn’t make enough to pay for the fertilizer and gas I’d used. I had to find a job with a paycheck.”
Powell lucked into a job with Foremost Dairy in Montgomery but he kept his Case and his cows.
“With the dairy, I was making more cash than I had ever made,” he said. “I had a little money in my pocket.”
A year and more later, Powell got lucky again and landed a job with the soil conservation department in Florence.
“That was a college town and it was expensive to live there so I went back with Foremost and was making twice what they paid me before,” Powell said. “Later, I came to Troy and worked with the milk company and then ran several service stations.”
Having no need for a tractor, Powell sold his 1951 Case but he never really let it go.
Years passed but the 1951 Case was never far from mind or out of sight.
“The man who bought it, had let it sit out in a pasture and weeds had grown up all around it,” Powell said. “I saw it every time I went that way. One day, I stopped to see if he would let me buy it back.”
The man’s asking price far exceeded what Powell expected to pay for an abandoned tractor.
“When I sold him the tractor, it had a tiller, a harrow, a duster, a wagon and planting equipment,” Powell said. “He paid me $500 for all that and all I was going to give him to get the tractor back was $500.”
Powell had to chop the brush down to get to the 1951 Case. The tires were flat and Mother Nature had not been kind to the aging tractor.
Finding someone to restore the tractor was much easier than finding parts for a tractor that had rolled off the assembly line a half century earlier.
Gene McLeod in Goshen tackled the restoration of the 1951 Case and the search for parts seemed endless.
“Every time he would find part he needed, he’d need another one,” Powell said. “It took a couple of years to get it back in running order. Justin Jordan painted it and it looks just like it did when it was brand new.”
McLeod and Jordan made Powell’s dream of seeing his 1951 Case back home and running again come true.
“I can’t get on it yet but I know it’s out here and I can hear it run,” he said. “That was my lifelong dream.”