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The family has a shiny new heirloom—thanks to a two-year school project.
By Chadd Petrick, Anamosa, Iowa
My grandpa, Joseph Petrick, bought this Farmall 450 new in March 1958. It was the biggest tractor he ever owned, and it was the farm’s workhorse. He used it to plow, disk, mow and bale hay, grind feed, spread manure, combine oats and green chop forage for the milk cows every day. In the fall, Grandpa mounted a two-row corn picker on it.
My grandparents only owned 96 acres, but Grandpa also farmed on crop-shares and did a lot of custom work. One fall he picked close to 300 acres of ear corn—and the 450 doesn’t even have power steering! The only rest that Farmall—and Grandpa—got was on rainy days.
Grandpa and Grandma raised 10 kids, and every one of them drove the 450 at some point. In 1980, my uncle and my dad overhauled the engine and replaced the clutch and torque amplifier. That was the first time a wrench had ever touched the engine. They finished just in time to give it to Grandpa for Christmas. Dad drove it 17 miles in 20-degree weather with no heat houser. He was frozen by the time he got home, but they caught Grandpa completely by surprise. What a great present!
My dad, Ken, and mom, Cinda, bought the 450 from Grandpa in January 2009. At the time I was a student in the diesel agriculture technology program at Kirkwood Community College, so I worked on the tractor as a project during my two years there.
It didn’t run when I got it—one piston was frozen in its sleeve—so I completely overhauled the engine and transmission. It got all new parts in the engine, a refaced flywheel, new clutch assembly, pinion gear, axle bearings, input and output PTO shafts, hydraulic pump and brakes. Finally, I repaired the sheet metal and painted it. We ended up investing more money in parts than that tractor cost new!
But with its new paint job the Farmall looks and runs like a brand- new tractor. I finished just in time to show it as an FFA project at the 2012 Iowa State Fair, where it was named Reserve Champion in its class of 28 tractors. Sadly, Grandpa passed away in 2010 and never got to see his 450 restored. But I think he would have been proud of how well the tractor turned out, and even prouder that his trusty old workhorse has become a treasured family heirloom.