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Back When: 1958 Ford 861 Powermaster

10 Sep 2023
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Ralph Lind said he has loved to repair and fix things for as long as he can remember. Restoring his 1958 Ford 861 Powermaster put that love to the test.
 
Equipment dealer and friend Terry Jones sold Ralph the 861 in December of 2007. Buying the 861 was a purchase made from the heart. His family’s first tractor was a 1950 8N and the similarities of the two tractors rekindled memories from that earlier time. After buying the 861 he had to truck it seventy miles to his home. It was in very bad condition and would put Ralph’s problem-solving skills to the test. With the help of a forty-dollar Ford service manual and a fifteen-dollar owner’s manual, the restoration began.
 
Ralph was fairly sure the oil had not been changed in the 861 for a long time because the once square oil plug was so rounded off that it was impossible to remove it in the conventional manner. Telltale marks on the plug were evidence of numerous unsuccessful attempts to remove it. After several more conventional attempts of his own, Ralph realized he had to get creative and come up with a better solution. A pipe wrench with a jack held tightly against it to keep it from slipping off the plug proved to be the solution. Soon the old plug was out and a new plug solved the problem for future oil changes.
 
For the next year Ralph worked on the little Ford; each day it was closer to the tractor that had come off the assembly line fifty-plus years earlier. The engine did not require a great deal of mechanical work- spark plugs, a couple of gauges, a thermostat, and fuel shutoff valves had it running fine. However, the appearance of the 861 required a great deal more work than the engine did. There was sheet metal that had to be repaired and dents to be removed. The special Ford paint cost over $150 and the correct decals were $75, but both were necessary to make sure it was restored correctly. A new seat was $110, replacing the missing hood emblem was another $70 and topped off the completed restoration at $800.
 
The 861 is Ralph’s pride and joy. He still uses it around the acreage where he and his wife Maxine reside near Houston, Minnesota. One day the 861 will be handed down to a younger family member, but until that time the couple will enjoy using it to give their signature buckboard rides. They own a 110-year-old horse-drawn buckboard that is the type early settlers used. Ralph said he uses the Ford’s 41 horse team (horsepower) and hooks it up to the buckboard for rides at church picnics and family gatherings at their acreage. 

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Farmers Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.