Alum Scott Hart restores agricultural icons on the farm
Members of the agricultural community choose sides when it comes to tractors: you are either green or red. All his friends know that Scott Hart is a John Deere green kind of guy. So why does he have all those red Farmalls and International Harvester tractors parked all through the outbuildings on the farm? “I love Deere green, but IH red helps pay the bills,” he stated.
Scott restores classic tractors, of all makes and models. A 2003 alum of the Kishwaukee College Diesel Power Technology (DPT) program, Scott has actually been restoring tractors since he was a student at Indian Creek High School. “In 1998, I fixed up my grandfather’s tractor,” he recalled. “A neighbor saw what I’d done with it and asked if I would restore theirs. It sort of grew from there.” Scott enrolled in the DPT program after high school to gain the extra knowledge and the credentials he needed to do the best work possible with the tractor restorations that were steadily coming his way.
He eventually created Scott’s Tractor Restoration and formalized the business in 2003. Over the years, Scott has worked on many tractors from a wide variety of manufacturers: John Deere, and IH, of course, but also Milwaukee-based Allis-Chalmers and even a Field Marshall from England and a Porsche. Yes, Porsche. The high-end sports car maker actually manufactured diesel tractors in Germany and Austria in the 1950’s using an engine designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche in the 1930’s. “Sometimes I have to wait for parts for some of the older or more unique models,” he said. “It is pretty easy to get parts from Deere and IH, so those arrive faster.”
Scott will have restorations in progress on 5 or 6 tractors simultaneously. “If I have to wait for parts, I just move on to another tractor until the parts arrive,” he said. He has a designated paint bay and 2-ton crane to lift out engines and for other heavy work.
“I take the whole thing apart, down to the bolts,” he explained. “I check and fix everything. My favorite part is painting, though. I like when a rusty tractor gets a new coat.” Scott uses the paint from the manufacturer so the color is accurate. Tractor paint is different from regular automobile paint and the colors are unique to the manufacturer. People can’t walk in an auto paint store and get “John Deere green.” Scott has it though; he has connections.
Scott never starts the tractor engine itself until the entire project is complete. “I concentrate on doing it right from start to finish,” he explained. “I am pretty confident when I am finished that when I sit on the tractor, turn the key, and press the button, the engine will start. I have had a few times when it didn’t and I tear into it to find something was tightened or was 90 degrees off or something.”
Business is steady and in many respects booming. Scott has a backlog of tractors to restore. He said, “Sometimes I have to tell people that I may not get to their tractor for a year or so and most people are like “Well, it sat in the barn for 30 years, one more year won’t matter.” For most people who love tractors, it is like a contagious disease – you get one and then another and you do what you need to do.”
The best part for Scott – besides being his own boss – is talking with the customers. “Probably 90% of the tractors I work on have been in the family for generations. People bring in their grandfather’s tractor, the one they remember riding on when they were a kid. It’s more than farming history, it is family history. An heirloom. I like being part of that.”
To learn more about Scott’s Tractor Restoration, visit his company website for photos of restoration projects and more at:
http://www.scottstractorrestoration.com/ or you can check find Scott’s Tractor Restoration on Facebook.