News Eufaula FFA Wins Tractor Restoration Contest

Eufaula FFA Wins Tractor Restoration Contest

Eufaula FFA Wins Tractor Restoration Contest
November 18, 2008 |

More than six decades after it was first built, a 1946 Case A model tractor rolled to victory on Oct. 24, thanks to a monumental restoration effort by the Eufaula chapter of the Future Farmers of America.The Eufaula FFA took the $2,500 grand prize in the 13th annual Chevron Delo Tractor Restoration Competition, defeating nine other teams from across the United States at the National FFA Organization’s annual convention in Indianapolis.According to Eufaula FFA Leader Buster Padgett, the chapter has competed in the competition almost every year since 1997 — and this was the eighth time it has been a finalist — but had never been able to finish “in the money.””We hadn’t started a restoration for this year’s competition, but the students begged to try just because of the chapter tradition,” Padgett said of his nine-member team. “Some of them were on the team the year before, and they were determined to go back.”Cody Medley, Steven Filgo and Padgett’s eldest son, Jake Padgett, had competed last year, and mentored the other six members of the team — Katie Walden, Justin Gibson, Andrea Pittman, Jackson Harris, Jim Johnson and another Padgett son, Zack — who had “never touched a tractor.”But on June 26, the students began work on the rusting hulk of a 1946 Case A model owned by Landmark Park in Dothan. “(Landmark) offered to pay for materials if we could do the restoration work,” explained Buster Padgett. “We shook hands on a win-win arrangement — my students receive the ‘hands-on’ education and the park gets the restored equipment for its farm and museum.”Initially, the students were eager to start the project, but once they saw the task ahead, they were overwhelmed. After all, whipping a 62-year-old tractor into shape requires more than just elbow grease.”It was in a terrible rusted condition,” said Buster Padgett. “The engine itself was as bad as it could get. We had to actually replace it with an engine from a ‘parts’ tractor. The students did a lot of sheet metal fabrication on the fenders and spent a great deal of time removing rust and prepping the hood and fenders for paint. I’m really proud of the job they did saving all the original pieces.”That “parts” tractor was found on the online auction and shopping site, eBay. An alumnus from the Eufaula chapter traveled to Arkansas and picked it up. Other parts were purchased from a business in Minnesota.Undaunted, the students meshed together as a team to get the job done.”The students divided themselves into various tasks, and the work went smoothly,” said Buster Padgett. “Some kids worked on the engine while others worked on sheet metal. Others worked on the transmission and rear end. They felt good about carrying on the chapter tradition and also about the skills they were learning.”That, of course, was the idea behind the Chevron Delo Tractor Restoration Contest. The skills needed for success in the program — equipment maintenance, team work, project management, budgeting, planning and marketing — help develop the participants into future leaders in the agriculture community.”What we love about the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition is its ability to inspire kids to do things they may never have done, or even thought possible,” said Julian Cran, a Chevron spokesman.
On Sept. 3, with the ’46 Case looking showroom sharp, the team declared the project finished and submitted their workbook documenting the entire restoration process from mechanical overhauls to external appearance to five professional tractor restorers.For two days, competitors went through rigorous interviews on the development of their tractor restoration project. Contestants were graded on the restoration, overall outcome, recordkeeping and a presentation followed by safety question.As the individual and chapter winners were announced at the National FFA Organization Convention, the Eufaula students knew their shiny tractor was a winner.”It was exciting when we heard the word ‘Case’ because no one else did a Case tractor,” said team member Andrea Pittman.The Cotton Center (Texas) FFA was first runner-up with its 1961 John Deere 3010, and the Northwood FFA of Nappanee, Ind., was second runner-up with its 1967 John Deere 3020 Gas.Matthew Dehlinger of the Olney (Ill.,) FFA won the individual competition’s $2,500 grand prize with his 1936 John Deere A. Ishley Elmore of the Decatur (Texas) FFA was first runner-up in the individual contest with his 1950 Farmall H. Jordan Raska of the Brazos FFA in Wallis, Texas was second runner-up with a 1959 John Deere 830.First runners-up received $1,500, while second runners-up took home $1,000.The Eufaula FFA team, however, already has plans for its $2,500 prize, says Buster Padgett: “We are already talking about which tractor we want to do next year and when we can start working
on it.”

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