The tractor was so beat up that Ceres dentist Bruce Young didn't want to even buy it for his son Colton to restore for a Hughson FFA project. But after a year of hard work, the 1951 John Deere G tractor is a sparkling exhibit at the Stanislaus County Fair this week.
The work has impressed audiences at the fair where Colton won an award from the Western Heritage Engine Antiques Tractor, or WHEAT. While the fair is on until Sunday it's being housed inside the ag mechanics building on the fairgrounds.
Since last August, tThe project has put Dr. Young in closer contact with his son, who is a 17-year-old Hughson High School senior.
"It's a little uncommon to have a dentist and his son restoring tractors for his FFA project," remarked Colton's mother, Ronda.
Bruce said when he first saw the tractor in Oakdale he nearly walked away from it.
"The old tractor was pretty beat up," he said. "I didn't really want to buy it. I said, ‘Oh my god we don't want this thing.'"
The tractor had belonged to the owner's neighbor and had a history that didn't make matters any better. The neighbor had been riding it down the road when he was hit by a drunk driver. The impact rolled the tractor and bent the axle. It sat around for about 20 years awaiting a restoration, complete with extra parts but "still needed a lot of fixing."
The Youngs decided to buy it. Colton fixed the bent axle, freed up the rusty brakes and clutch and got it running again - even beefing up the low compression engine.
"He worked on it pretty much every weekend and nights when he wasn't working," said Dr. Young. "It runs nice. He learned a ton."
An estimated $4,000 to $5,000 went into the project, which called for new tires as well.
After the fair, Colton would like to join tractor pull competitions.
Colton has been courted by the Caterpillar dealership in Stockton, said his dad, after watching him win statewide competitions on a FFA Farm Power team.