Old tractors help teach new technicians through FFA

Some Wisconsin FFA members are learning mechanical skills by restoring old tractors.

Advisor Matt Reinders has been the agricultural instructor at Edgar for the past nine years and taught at Loyal for nine years before that.  His classes have been restoring old tractors the entire time. “I do have some students that have been around this stuff but I also have some students that have never turned a wrench, really, and so when we tear apart that engine, they’re seeing all of the internal parts, and once you learn how they function, they’re really simple.”

Restored tractors at 2023 Wisconsin FFA convention

Reinders says the students do all of the work, from the teardown to reassembly and painting. “I think it’s really rewarding to a student when they see something they took completely apart, they put it back together, and it runs.”

And the community looks forward to seeing the restored machines. “It’s gained so much popularity in the area that the last five tractors have been donated from local farmers. We’ll get them donated and my kids tear it down to the last bolt. We fix up all of the sheet metal and rebuilt the engine, paint it up and get it restored, and raffle it off. It’s been great.”

Reinders says it’s easier to find parts for the more popular old tractors, such as the early John Deere and Allis Chalmers tractors.  He says it’s more challenging to find parts for old Oliver and Minneapolis Moline tractors.

Several restored tractors are on display this week during the Wisconsin FFA convention in Madison.

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