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Madison's County, Part 2
by Anthony West
Following Phil’s little mishap at the week end, he had refrained from undertaking any of the restoration work on the Fordson County alone. Not that Phil is by any means faint hearted, it's just that the near miss had given him a different outlook when it came to working with heavy machines alone!! This had put the stoppers on the progress.
As we stood round the County we set out our action plan for the things that needed doing. After the fall, the near side track assembly would have to be removed, and following a closer inspection we were in agreement that it would have to be rebuilt.
The bend was very noticeable, and the only option available was to fabricate a new runner on which the idler wheels and the tensioner wheel were mounted.
Keith being the miracle worker he is, soon decided to take the bull by the horns. Any reservations Phil might have had, were soon dispelled as we got involved with the stripping down. Keith assisted by jacking up the front whilst Phil and I made sure it was secure.
We managed to strip the front near side wheel off without trouble, and we carried on to remove the support beam and idlers in one fell swoop. With this done, we laid it out on the yard, removed the remaining idler wheels and assessed the extent of the damage. Then the idlers and the final drive bearing assembly was repacked with fresh grease.
In the mean time, Keith had taken the trailer to the local salvage yard where he had managed to secure some suitable RSJ girder. This would be the basis of the new runner refurbishment. He returned with a good length of steel beam and some other pieces of flat metal which we would be able to cut and weld to form. I set about dressing the edges with an angle grinder taking the imperfections and dribbles off caused by the oxyacetylene torch, Keith cut and welded the beam into shape.
Philip was nearby taking his time in removing the front grill which had sustained an angular pressed dent as a result of the front, grazing the back of the trailer as it had toppled. Once he got it off he attempted to beat out the dent. Without success!!, and his efforts only made the grill look worse. It was decided that we would drop it off at the local panel shop to see if they could salvage it.
We started on the beam next, stripping off the old top runner support bracket and wheel tensioner, retaining them for later reassembly. We then used the old bent beam as a template. The new metal was measured accurately welded together to match the old one and then drilled to take the pieces we had stripped. The whole runner was then painted with undercoat and allowed to dry, before a top coat of blue was applied. At the same time the wheels were painted too, but in white.
Late evening saw the beam refitted to the County and it was gently lowered onto its tracks. The tracks were refitted and attached using new bolts, and the adjuster bar was greased and tension applied.
Despite the setback caused by the fall, the County was looking really good. Non of the damage was apparent and the tracks seemed to work okay. The next two weeks, saw a concerted effort by Phil, and each time I called, it seemed that something else had been done to bring her on. I picked up the front grill from the body shop and winced painfully at the bill. Phil couldn't complain though, the panel beater had sand blasted filled and primered the grill which now looked like new.
He was really pleased that it could be salvaged!! but the fall had proven an expensive lesson.
The whole machine was later steam cleaned, with attention being paid, not to remove the fresh paint from the newly constructed side beam. The grill, bonnet and fuel tank were then spray painted with a fresh coat of Ford Blue to keep up appearances!!
Phil ordered two new bonnet handles and a grill badge, which finished the job off very nicely, and a new battery was bought to replace the ailing old one.
The final part to be fitted was a nice new black exhaust silencer, which replaced the old rusty one. It looked and sounded like new and Phil had every right to be proud of the work he had done. All that remains now is for Phil to get a new seat and a set of headlamps. Adverts have been placed and he is awaiting any response.
One thing is for sure, after a rocky, almost terminal start to their relationship, Phil is now more than happy to take the County out across the fields. He hopes that during the forthcoming year, someone will be daft enough to let him loose on their land!! It's nice to see the enthusiastic smile back on his face as he churns great ruts in the yard!! and all that remains to be said on that note is....wait till your father gets home!!
Here's wishing you all safe and happy mending's from the UK