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Good as new

By Staff | Mar 3, 2008

Rudy Cyphers was 12 years old the first time he climbed into the seat his dad’s new 1937 F-20 Farmall tractor for a driving lesson.

He could never have imagined it then, but on his 83rd birthday, Rudy once again took his spot behind the wheel of that new tractor.

While ‘new’ may not be a term commonly used to to describe a 71-year-old tractor, in this instance, it fits. In fact, ‘better-than-new’ might be more appropriate for the septuagenarian F-20 Farmall recently refurbished by members of the Faribault County Historical Society.

“It looks like it did when dad bought it — the paint may even be a little brighter,” says Rudy with a chuckle. “It’s back to normal. They did a great job. ”The recent restoration of this Farmall tractor is something very special to Cyphers. It’s a project Rudy hoped to have completed before he dies, says friend Fern Adams.

The retired farmer considers the tractor a huge part of his farming career. Not only did he learn to drive on that exact machine, he spent nine years behind the wheel farming with his father.

Rudy believed in the top of the line machine so much that when he ventured out on his own to farm in 1946, he purchased a used F-20 Farmall.

Cypher’s father finally sold the family’s F-20 in 1953 to Carl Weise during a farm sale. Unbelievably, when Rudy went looking for the machine two years ago, Weise’s son was still in possession of the tractor. He purchased the machine and hoped to have it restored. That turned out to be a little harder than he expected. Rudy had trouble finding anyone to work on the piece of farm equipment until a friend suggested the local historical society. The group took possession of the tractor in December. On Feb. 17, the day before Rudy’s birthday, the group rolled out the tractor for Cyphers to drive — a wonderful surprise for the farmer who just retired this year after 60 years in the business.

The task was no small feat. The old tractor was stripped to its bare bones, rebuilt piece by piece and re-painted by Larry Prange, Ken Mastin and Lloyd Koestler. To accomplish the project, each man needed to log more than 300 hours on the F-20.

The tractor will be on display at the local fairgrounds, along with a a horse carriage and a sley also donated by Rudy.

“You have to give the guys (Prange, Mastin and Koestler) a lot of credit,” says Fern of the time and effort put into the project. “They did a beautiful job fulfilling Rudy’s wish. It means a lot.”