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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi folks

Been looking for a gear drive GT for a while. Found a really nice one owned by my brother’s step son. It has been stored for many years inside and is by far the nicest one I have seen in my 4 months of looking.

Nose piece and dash are in one piece, no cracks! Looks like seat has been replaced at some point.
Wheel Tire Vehicle Motor vehicle Vehicle registration plate


3 point hitch (needs adjustment) and rear blade Ice chains that look too big for the tire size and wheel weights

Tire Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle Automotive tire


The overall condition is what amazes me. 45 years old and no serious rust issues. Orange shift knobs are still bright, decals are in place and legible, muffler shroud is good and PTO cover is there. The transmission feels better than some cars I’ve driven. It goes easily into all gears with a smooth positive click and no slop in the lever. High /low range is a little stiff but goes in and out of ranges with a good solid feel. Steering is tight and remarkably easy to turn. The rear “Chevron tread tires” as Sears called them look really good. I’ve never seen a set with that much tread on them. The implement clutch and parking brake levers still have their rubber handles. Clutch/brake pedal is complete and has the decal. A lot of these details were missing or damaged on most of the tractors I looked at.

Wheel Tire Vehicle Automotive tire Tread


Sitting in it’s new home next to it’s bigger sibling

Wheel Tire Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive tire


Automotive tire Tire Motor vehicle Tread Bicycle tire


Hood latches down securely. Sears decal in centre of wheel is mint!

Steering part Motor vehicle Corded phone Steering wheel Bicycle part


How many hours?

Automotive tire Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Gauge Rim



Automotive tire Motor vehicle Tread Art Automotive lighting


Apparently these rear blades are rare here. Lots of people were trying to buy this blade but didn’t want the whole package. It was perfect for my needs. I don’t need a deck and prefer a 3 pt over a sleeve hitch.

Wood Hand tool Tool Saw Metal


Never seen this much tread on this style of tire. Those chains are definitely too big. Maybe 26/12x12 size. Have to see if I can subtract some links and make them fit because they are a really nice design for ice, which is a problem for me.

Arthropod Automotive tire Seafood Marine invertebrates Chiton


The Onan is running but not very well. The fuel system is gummed up and the carb likely needs a rebuild or replacement form sitting for many years. I’m really looking forward to working on this, collecting some more attachments and using it around the property.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Eric! I couldn’t believe my luck in getting this. I drove over 200 miles round trip to get it and narrowly avoided snow and a heavy rain storm. I just managed to sneak through before the driving would have gotten tricky. I took a chance and got it ASAP because this time of year driving gets pretty sketchy here with rain and snow and flash freezes etc and I was using a utility trailer to get it which I do not like towing, even in good conditions. I’ll check that shift lever boot. It may still be OK given that this tractor has been inside most of it’s life but I will purchase a new one anyway to have it in hand. I think the transaxle takes 30w non detergent oil if I remember correctly. I intend to give it a thorough going over before putting it to work. I have a bunch of trails through the woods here that are gravel and about 5 ft wide. That rear blade will be a nice attachment to maintain them. I’d like to get a front blade and a blower for it. I have seen some videos of an SS18 with a single stage blower on it and it seemed to be a real beast. I’m not sure if they ever made a 2 stage blower that would fit it. I have a small workshop that is insulated and has electric heat, so this winter I can take my time going over it, doing all the maintenance and get it running properly. The previous owner seems to be really good at finding tractors and attachments and he is going to keep an eye out for me. You probably get more snow in the winter than we do here. Our biggest issue is temperature swings above and below freezing. A recipe for ice buildup on my gravel driveway and tricky driving. In 2015 we had record amounts of snow, just crazy like over 20ft and that year it stayed cold throughout Jan to Mar. I could not plow my driveway because the snow banks were too high. Ended up putting the loader on and moving back the snow banks with it. Lots of crazy stuff happens when you are doing snow removal. Equipment breakdowns are always bad news. I try to keep my machines well maintained to help reduce the surprises.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thanks guys. I need to put on new front tires right away. One is leaking down overnight and they are both badly cracked. I pulled the leaking one off to see how hard it would be to remove. It didn’t fight me much at all. There was no wear to speak of on the front spindles, just the tiny bit of clearance that is there when new. The chains came off pretty easy although it looks like a too large set of chains were used and sort of folded over. it was strange. A lot of welding was done to make them fit. They were rubbing the 3 pt hitch lever probably because the bungee cords tightening them had lost their bungeeness! I’ll sort those out for next winter. The wheel weights are another story!:mad:
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Thanks Kenny! Now there is no excuse for having spelling errors in my posts!

The tractor came with a set of those plastic cement filled wheel weights. I wanted to remove them to install my home built weight brackets that I kept from when I had JD GT’s a few years back. What I don’t like about those plastic weights is that you cannot remove the wheel without removing the 50lb weights first, can’t check lug nuts or do any maintenance on the rear axles or change trans fluid for example. I removed the mounting bolts and the weights would not come off the rim. I tried prying, but didn’t want to damage the rim, tried pounding then from the back side of the wheel with a 20oz hammer and with a dead blow hammer, wouldn’t budge. Tried torque to turn them a bit to get them to release. Broke the tool I made to do that and they still wouldn’t budge. I used lots of water to flush the dirt out between the rim and weight, lots of penetrating oil, lots more pounding from the back side and no go. Managed to gear up a puller to the back side of the centre of the weight and push on the axle. I loaded it up as much as I felt comfortable with, didn’t want to damage the axle, pounded them again and still no go. So I went for the nuclear option, got out the reciprocating saw and sawed them in half. I still had to pry them out of there even then. I think they may have been on there since the tractor was new. Anyway a few photos of the carnage and the brackets I will use to replace them. The brackets have to be clocked to the correct position to allow access to the lug nuts. So now when I need to take a wheel off I remove the weight plates one at a time and then can remove the wheel without removing the bracket.


First one off! Boy, that felt good when that weight hit the floor!


Wheel Tire Automotive tire Motor vehicle Tread


No 2 came off a bit easier.
Wheel Tire Automotive tire Tread Locking hubs


I didn’t know what these looked like from the back side. They were jammed in there pretty solid. Held in by the interference fit rather than the bolts.

Automotive tire Font Rim Circle Automotive wheel system



Wheels cleaned up pretty well!

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Locking hubs Motor vehicle


The brackets can be put on in 4 possible positions. You have to clock them to the correct position to line up with the wheel bolts. I forgot about that until I looked at this photo. I built these for a tractor that had 26x12/12 wheels so the weight mounting rod sticks out a bit further with the narrower Sears wheels, about 2 inches. I should be able to get 90 lbs on there 4x10lbs and 2 x 25. I have a pair of Marcy Grip 25 lb that are only 10 inches in diameter so they will fit into the first step down on the rim and another 25lb wallmart weight outside of that. Given that the Sears is only about 37” wide it’s about 8 inches narrower than the GT these weights were made for so I don’t think the extra width will be an issue. Tires have a lot of cracks in the sidewalls. The tread is crisp and almost like new. Remarkable that tires can be that old and still hold air. Need to plan to replace them soon though.

Tire Wheel Motor vehicle Automotive tire Locking hubs


In conclusion. If you are looking at a used GT and it has those plastic/cement weights on it, it might be a good idea to see if they will come off easily before you make an offer. I didn’t want to destroy them, but I needed them off there in the near future to replace the tires and I didn’t want to break anything on the tractor doing it. What do you guys think. Should I leave those weight brackets yellow like the tractor or paint them white like the wheels? When I retired them previously I cleaned them up and painted them so they really don’t need any paint.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes, I think it would be a waist of time to paint the brackets. I picked up a set of front tires and will replace the one that is leaking tomorrow so I can get it rolling again. I got the gas tank off and rinsed out and new fuel lines and filter ready to install. I need to take the carb out and inspect and clean it. The whole fuel system smelt like old gas. I got an “extra brass float” with the tractor so it may still have the foam float in it. It’s been sitting a long time. There is a great Onan carb video online by a member here that really gives you a complete roadmap for getting a good working carb. I’m hoping someone else hasn’t been into the carb and messed it up. The Onan carbs are more like an automotive carb then a small engine carb like what is on a Tecumseh or Kohler. After I get fuel sorted I’ll check the wiring and when I’m happy with that I’ll check for spark and then it will be time to try to start it with fresh fuel. Oil has been changed by the PO but filter looks like it has been on there for a while so I have one ordered. It should be here by Wednesday.
The transmission on this thing is huge. It takes 5 quarts of 30w oil! It looks to me like the shifter boot is OK. If all goes to plan I hope to have it started sometime next week. Got some yard work that will cut into my tractor time. Also need to do an oil /filter change on the JD2320 diesel. Fall is always busy here.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Got lucky with Fiona. We had a few trees lose large branches and one oak that had grown out of a sucker from a stump and was leaning at about 45 degrees that split and snapped off. It was about 10” at the base and it’s cut and split and in my wood shed. We had a professional take down 2 large pines near the house last year. One was over 60ft tall and 2ft dia. at the base. Glad we did that before Fiona because that tree had a split in the trunk about 2/3 of the way through at 15ft from the ground. Rick, the guy who does our tree work noticed sap leaking from the trunk and I never would have noticed that. In halifax there was some serious damage with streets closed where huge hardwood trees in the older south end of town had come down along with power and phone lines and sometimes taking out cars and parts of houses. We got off easy and are only 25km from the city.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I’m new to these tractors but I am impressed with the build overall. They have their weak points. The nose cone is one. It looked mint but on close inspection it has some fine cracks starting to appear. I should be able to deal with that this winter before putting it to work in the spring.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Front tires just don’t seem to last as long but even so, the Sears branded tires on the front were pretty shot, but one still holds air perfectly. The rears are cracked on the sidewalls but the tread is still in almost new condition. I had a 74 MF8 and the rears were still holding air in 2018 when I sold it. 52 years for your Bush Hog is the longest I’ve heard of for a garden tractor tire. I think keeping the tractor out of the sun and weather helps. I doubt that some of the modern bargain brand Chinese tires will last that long but I have confidence that Carlisle or Goodyear will still have a long service life. I’m seeing prices approaching 500$ For a pair of 23x10.5/12 AG tires. Yikes, maybe I can find a parts tractor with good rear tires for less.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I had AG’s on my JDx475. 26x12/12. The salesman said that would be best for my application so the tractor was ordered that way. In hindsight I would have been better off with something else. Conventional chains on AG tires aren’t a great choice. I only use chains for snow removal when it’s icy. The original rears will be on there for a while. They seem to be holding air just fine but I haven’t checked the pressure. Today I got a new front tire and valve stem installed to replace the front that was leaking down overnight. The other one will wait until I get it running and can put it away in my little heated workshop. The garage isn’t big enough to keep it in there. Cleaned up the rim and painted the inside and the outer lip. The rims were in good shape.

Wheel Tire Automotive tire Vehicle Tread


Found a small crack in the dash coming from the upper inside of the throttle control. I drilled a small hole at the end of the crack to stop it. The throttle was so stiff you had to use too much force to move it. Choke was stiff as well. Removed both cables at the carb, tilted them up and fitted a short piece of tubing over the end of them. Put about 10-15 drops of light weight oil in the tube and let it sit. After an hour or so the oil had reached the console end of the cables. Worked them back and forth for a while until they both ran smoothly. I want to add something to the back of the dash to spread the load of the throttle mounts over a larger area. The thin plastic panel flexes noticeably when you work the throttle.


Wood Table Door Building Floor


Pulled the intake manifold off to deal with the carb issues. You have to loosen the exhaust clamps at the engine to allow the manifold to lift out. I vacuumed the engine first to get rid of anything that could fall into the engine and covered the intakes with tape ASAP. I’ll have a go at the carb tomorrow. I know it had old gas in it and that it had been sitting for about 10 years since run. The vacuum line from the engine to the fuel pump was a loose fit so that will get changed out.

Wood Machine Artifact Metal Fashion accessory
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Yes, I got some oil on that first but the main issue seemed to be inside the cable. A bit of corrosion from sitting for at least 10 years since last being used on a regular basis.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
The previous owner said the carb had issues. The engine was spitting fuel out the carb. I’ve never owned an Onan before so I did a Youtube search and came up with a video from Cranky Motor Sports that pretty much gave me a blueprint for servicing the carb. It had a number of issues. The fuel that was in it smelled terrible. The bottom of the bowl was covered in a gooey green sludge. The main jet was not fully screwed into the carb. The O ring had swelled and it seemed tight but wasn’t anywhere near deep enough into the carb to meter fuel. The tip of the jet also had a hard black coating over it. Got that chipped off and put a new o ring on it. Installed it and set to factory default so it now has a chance at providing the right amount of fuel. There were 2 clogged channels in the carb that I got cleaned out by pushing a small wire through them. The vent hole in the fuel pump was also partially plugged. I was able to reuse all the gaskets and pump diaphragm although they are showing some wear. The carb still had the foam float in it. It was starting to crack but didn’t seem to be in bad shape. I switched out to the brass float that came as a spare and adjusted it to where it looked like it would work based on my experience with Kohler and Tec carbs. The needle valve was dirty and the valve seat looks a bit rough so I cleaned them and put it all back together. I should have thoroughly scrubbed the outside of the carb before taking it apart. Carb cleaner softened the paint and it was a pain to keep the peeling paint out of the carb.
I cleaned up the intake manifold and scraped the excess sealant off of the seam between the 2 halves. I then cleaned the area with carb cleaner and an abrasive pad. I sealed it with Motoseal which was a suggestion in the cranky motor sports video to seal intake leaks in the manifold without the need to drill out the rivets in the 2 halves.
Sometime in the next couple of days I hope to get it back together and try to start it. I need to have a quick look at the electrical side of things and also check the crankcase vent system to make sure that is in good shape before I try a start.

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Got the carb and intake manifold installed with new gaskets and a new pulse line to the pump. Ran a new fuel line with an inline filter. Put the fuel tank back in and the seat bracket. Took a look at the electrics and one of the plug wires doesn’t look like it was making a connection at the plug. I cleaned a lot of corrosion out of the contact and squeezed it together a bit. Seems to be good now. At the coil end one connector pin in the coil was corroded so I cleaned that up and cut a short piece off of each wire to make a new solid connection. Pulled the plugs and they were badly fouled. I guess that would happen trying to run it with the main jet essentially missing from the carb. Cleaned them up and that side of things seems ready to go. Checked continuity through the ignition switch and the points to the coil and it all looks good. I still need to check the point gap. Points look OK, not pitted. Condenser measures .32uf on my meter so it looks in the ballpark. Points and condenser look like recent replacements.
Have a battery to put in it but I’m not sure if it’s strong enough to start it. Tomorrow I will test the battery and starter circuit and then if all looks good I’ll add some fuel and see if it will light up! Hopefully I’ve fixed enough of the issues so it will run.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #30 · (Edited)
Got it to run guys! :):) Put some gas in it this AM and connected the fuel line. Got a good battery on it, set the points and cranked it. I couldn’t get it to run at first but it would fire if I put some fuel in the carb. Removed the top of the carb and nothing in the bowl at all! Tried turning it over and the gas shot about a foot in the air proving that the pump was working, so I readjusted the float and tried again. This time it fired within a few seconds and ran. Puked some black smoke for a few seconds and then ran like a top. I adjusted the idle down a bit and it settled into a smooth idle, no hitches or stumbles at all. Hit the throttle and it went to full rpm without a hesitation. No smoke on restart or when you rev the engine up. Sounds good, with that smooth opposed twin exhaust note. Drove it around the yard for a while. All the gears work fine. The belt is in bad shape and it squeeks a little when ever it engages. Pulleys are a bit rusty. Brakes work. You really have to have the clutch all the way in for it to disengage. Ground the gears a couple of times because of that. I’ll have to adjust that when I get a new belt on it. Battery was 12.5v when I was trying to start it. It seems to be charging. Voltage was up to 13.45 when I shut it down. I must say it is easy to steer. Hardly any effort at all required. Now I have to get it out of the garage and into the small workshop and get some other stuff done around here. Winter is upon us!
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
I’m more than happy with it Mark. The last 2 GT’s I had were a nightmare of worn out parts. This one is a real peach compared to those 2 -a 1983 JD314 and a 79 317. Had my fill of green tractors there! I like the Sears because it is a much simpler tractor but is still very versatile. Tried a cold start today. It barely cranked over before starting. Reduced the choke gradually to off and it settled into a smooth idle for about half a minute then quit. I tried restarting it but it wasn’t even kicking off. I think the float needle is sticking shut. When I was assembling the carb the needle was sticking in the seat when the float would drop. The seat is in bad shape. Time to order a rebuild kit and replace the worn parts. The fuel pump gasket was leaking a tiny bit as well, so a rebuild kit should put things right. I know the engine runs very well. When i was running it around the yard I drove it up the steepest hills I have with it not much above idle in 3 high and you could hear the engine load a bit but the governor kept the speed constant so that’s one more piece of the engine that seems to be working fine. I figure I can open the top of the carb and get that needle to release and get it running again to get it moved. Once it’s moved I can work on it in a heated space, although it’s small. I picked up a new drive belt today for it and some yellow paint. I’m going to start with the carb when I get the parts in and then the battery tray is coming out to be painted and I’ll have to make battery hold down hardware. With the battery tray out I can have a go at renewing the wiring and adding some reinforcement to the back of the console. I have never bought a used tractor yet that had the factory battery hold down bracket. To me it’s a pretty essential piece of hardware. I’ll then take off the old cracked belt and check and service the idlers and pulleys, install the new belt and adjust the clutch/brake for proper operation. The brake, like the clutch only works at the very end of the pedal travel. However the parking brake works perfectly! So that’s my plan for the next while for the SS18. I hope to have it ready to work in the spring. The rear blade will be put to work grading the trails I have here as well as the driveway.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
My price wouldn’t help you much as a guideline. Condition is everything in my book. Also a lot depends on what the supply of tractors is like in your area. It’s hard to get anything viable here for under 500$. 50$ is an unheard of price for a tractor. Remember I am in Canada. everything is 30-40% higher to start with because our dollar is worth less. It seems older GTs are in demand and sell quickly. I know where there is a SS 18 for sale for 450. It has no attachments, is supposed to be running but has 2 car wheels and tires on the rear instead of the normal 12 inch tractor rims. Saw another one recently that was a real basket case. Hood butchered for an engine transplant. No engine. Pieces of pipe welded to the frame for some reason and a bizarre winch mount on the front end. No seat. Basically a parts tractor -price 500$. Today there was a Wheel Horse 520 listed with a snowblower 3pt hitch and a tiller. Price 5500$ “ non negotiable”! So that’s what I am facing when looking for a garden tractor. Low supply and high prices.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Noel, I’m sure there are some deals around if you happen to know where a tractor is and get to make an offer on it before it goes to Kijiji or FB marketplace. I just don’t have the connections to find them like some folks do. In my view a tractor that is low hours and was maintained properly is worth much more than one that has thousands of hours on it.
 

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1976 Sears SS18, 2008 JD 2320
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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Not sure where I would find auction results for tractors around here. Most of the auctions I see don’t have any garden tractors in them. When I look at a new garden tractor I see at least 8k$ for a lightweight frame and a hydro rear end that is rated at pretty much the minimum requirement for ground engaging equipment. That just doesn’t seem like a good value proposition to me. I’m looking at condition as a big contributer to how much I’ll pay after having spent too much money and time on tractors that are worn out. By that I mean pretty much every system on the tractor is worn out on a lot of the stuff out there. Engine, trans, steering, tires, seat,fuel, hydraulic issues on a hydro, battery and electrical issues etc, etc. You start adding all that up and the money and time is substantial. I found this tractor and when I look at all the systems they are not worn out and look well maintained, so it’s worth a lot more to me than a parts tractor would be. I might have been able to find another one for less, but prices seem to be going up not down lately as stuff gets older. Bottom line, I’m happy with what I got for what I paid!
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
It’s impossible to get any profit from most GT restorations, even if you discount your labour. If time is valuable to you then doing a restoration to make money is not a valid plan. The huge prices that people are willing to pay for vintage automobile restorations is another story. Even then, in a professional restoration shop they have to watch the hours of labour in the job to make sure there is some profit at the end. So many things can be worn out, damaged or missing that the finances can easily go off the rails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
Sometimes family members will end up with the tractors. Some keep them and sometimes they end up for sale. A neighbour of my father had a nice Ford 14hp diesel GT but the tractor went to a family member without anyone else having a chance to buy it. The Case big wheel tractors are cool looking I suppose but I don’t think they offer much in terms of capability over the 12 inch versions in most cases considering the increase in the asking price. If you need to replace those big rear tires there will be some pain in your wallet. Even 12” tires are more expensive than car tires these days.
 
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