My grandfather, Martel Lloyd of Jacksonville NC, had a small farm of about 30 acres, most of which was woods. He had 2 garden plots of about 1 and 2 acres each that he planted with various crops like corn, peanuts, collards, okra, watermellon, squash and the like. He had purchased a 1947 Ford 2N from a neighbor up the road a few years after that man had bought the tractor new. It was our familys first tractor.
Somehow, the tractor came to be called 'Johnny'. As a child, I reasoned that we were a southern family and reble soldiers were sometimes called 'Johnny Rebs' and that since the tractor did resemble confederate gray....the name seemed appropriate. I grew up riding on my granddads lap 'helping' him steer at the ripe age of 2. I have ridden many a mile on that old steel seat. 2nd gear always had a distinctive whine to it and I thought as a child that it sounded like grumbling and I thought the tractor was grumpy!
As I grew older, I learned a lot from my grandfather. I learned the meaning of (relatively) hard work. Of taking pride in what you have done by the sweat on your back and seeing the payoff of a good days work. I eventually grew to take on responsibilities of bush-hogging and discing the fields and even some cultivating. I got to be pretty good with a back blade too.
Over the years, I helped my granddad out a lot with working on and with that old tractor. The times that we shared together became very special and endeared that tractor to me. I remember when I heard that the engine finally quit and it was to be sent off and rebuilt. I was so thankful it wasn't going to be sold! As I went through high school and even college, I never lost that love I had for old tractors. How long they last and how dependable they were! True engineering marvels and tributes to their designers. I told my granddad that when I finished college, I wanted to restore that tractor to like new condition, and I meant it.
Sadly, my granddad never lived long enough to see me graduate college. I had to pull teeth to keep the family from selling it, but I was able to get the tractor and the restoration began immediately. Nothing was spared on this restoration. I have right at 7000 in parts in this tractor and every time I go out and see it, I have to smile.
Walk around. Kick the tires. Check the oil. Open the fuel valve. Turn the key. Pat the hood and say 'C'mon Johnny, let's go!' and listen to that engine roar to life brings a smile and an ear-to-ear grin that can't be mistaken. It has taken me almost a year and a half to get the restoration done, but I think the results speak for themselves. I can't wait to show my parents and my uncle how good it looks now. And I know my grandparents have been smiling down on me the whole time and helping me through this true labor of love.
People wonder why I love old Iron so much. Its true I marvel at the linkages and mechanisms that make old machines something of a novelty. But the fact of the matter is that these machines truly have character. These machines and the times in which they were used are what made our parents and grandparents the types of strong, hard working, good, decent, honest people that they were. It's not about preserving a machine so much as it is about preserving a way of life and the experiences that have helped shape this country during its finest years. Sure, a 6V system may be cranky at times, but my granddad dealt with it and he turned out just fine. I think I can do the same. Patience is just one of the many virtues that these old machines can instill on a person and which is so hard to find in young people today. Thanks for all the great info on this site! I'm 25 years old and this is one of the greatest and most important things I think I have ever done in my life: preserving a piece of family history.
Jeb Lloyd (Jeb2N), NC, entered 2005-02-26
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