Mott chapter trying to make something old, new again (PHOTOS)

It’s going to take a little more than elbow grease and some spit shining, but that’s how they want it.

The tractor is a 1952 Allis-Chalmers WD. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor

It’s going to take a little more than elbow grease and some spit shining, but that’s how they want it.

The Mott-Regent FFA has embarked on a different, large-scale project since they purchased a used 1952 Allis-Chalmers WD tractor with the hopes of restoring the antique piece of equipment.

“[The students] are tractor heads for sure, they want nothing more than to work on tractors, talk about tractors and learn about tractors, that’s all they want to do,” said Courtney Yelton, FFA Advisor. “[I’m] just playing into what they really want to do.”

Yelton said she had been contemplating this project for more than a year, and since she had seen it done with other FFA programs, it had always been in the back of her head.

For nearly a year, Mott resident Darwyn Mayer had been helping her locate a project tractor. She said she wanted a brand that wasn’t green or red, indicating the brand of the tractor.

“Because that’s a huge fight in this community,” she said jokingly.

Mayer eventually came across the Allis-Chalmers and brought it to Yelton when he realized it wasn’t going to work for his own personal project, and she was happy with the machinery.

“It was just a perfect fit for us,” she said.

Allis-Chalmers tractors are traditionally orange, and that’s what color it will continue to be.

“Just like it was [originally],” Yelton said.

The tractor was purchased from Victor Meier, another Mott resident.

Students in Yelton’s Ag Mechanics and Ag 3 and 4—which consists of sophomores, juniors, and seniors—will be the ones working on the project. Yelton said there will be around 30 students with their hands on the project.

Each student, she said, has a passion for a specific part of the project, so everyone will have a role, with little crossover.

The project will consist of, among other things: new paint, replacement parts, cleanup, and a general overhaul of the engine, according to Yelton.

More of the learning will come in tracking down parts.

“I intend on making it kind of a learning experience,” Yelton said.

Many companies actually make aftermarket parts, so comparing and contrasting different brands and catalogs will be a part of the process.

This initial project is estimated to take about 12 months, according to Yelton, and it will act as a trial run for the group. They will see how it goes and evaluate the value of future endeavors. Part of that future will depend on what the future of this tractor.

They’ve talked about selling it to fund future projects, or even keeping it on display as an example of the capabilities of the group. And perhaps others who want a restored tractor can bring their equipment to the group in the future.

Aside from Yelton, when other community members heard about what they were trying to do, they have been more than generous to help the project.

“I’ve had more people than I could count offer their support,” she said. “It’s a whole community thing, it’s definitely not just me it’s a village.”

After installing a new battery, they fired it up for the first time on Thursday, Feb. 16, and from the first sound of the engine, and the light in her students’ eyes, she knew it was going to be a great experience for the group.

“Just to see the one kid who fired it up, and to see it run for the first time…it was gold right there, it sold me on the whole project.”

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