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Baling Through College

Baling Through College
In the spring of 1962, I had two problems; one was how to get through final exams at the Community College I was attending, and the second problem was where to find an affordable tractor with which to pull my hay baler. I had purchased a used IH Model 55W baler over the winter for 600 bucks and my idea was to put together a tractor-baler setup and bale hay in the summers to pay for college. I needed a tractor in the worst possible way. I watched the classified ads in the paper but I was secretly worried about how I could pay for a tractor because, well, it was the end of the school year and my money was nearly gone. I saw an ad for a Case tractor that was for sale for only 150 dollars, so I called the guy who had the Case advertised, and he told me that it had a broken steering box but the engine was real good. After I took my last final I went over to see the tractor. It was a rough looking 40's vintage Case Model VAI, had been outdoors for a long time and was pretty rusty, but the tires were OK. The broken steering box was fixable so I decided to take a chance on the engine and brought the tractor home. I began work on the tractor about 3 in the afternoon and worked all night and all the next day non-stop. All of the electrics and gauges were destroyed by rust, so a trip to the local wrecking yard for a Ford generator, some army truck gauges, and a voltage regulator soon had the tractor ready to run. I took the torch and cut off the old rusty cultivators, cut the fender bolts and dropped the fenders, and while I was at it built a sturdy hitch for the baler to hang onto. By 7PM of the second day, the engine barked to life through a chrome straight pipe I had stuck on the exhaust. With no hood; with a Nash Rambler air filter; some temporary lights, no paint, and no brakes, I drove my resurrected Case VAI out of the shop and hooked up to my baler. I had just enough time to shower and get some much needed sleep before my first baling job at 2 AM the next morning.

The little Case VAI was a superb baler tractor; with the gas pedal to quickly change speeds and the easy-shifting transmission, I just could not have had a better tractor, and the engine was as good as the seller said it was. The next winter, the little Case got the full treatment; new paint, box seat, and better lights. That tractor and baler took me through Community College and then on to two more years at one of the best Ag Universities in the U. S. The tractor was scrapped sometime in the late seventies along with the baler. I wish I had it here right now.

Dave Mello, from IA, entered 2003-02-10

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