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I'd like to give this a go again and nominate my 1940 Standard Twin. Here's the story behind how it became to be:
In the spring of 2002 a friend of mine who I had gotten into the hobby with me mentioned an upcoming equipment auction. It was an outdoor action and was substantial in size. I agreed to go and check it out. This was my first experience at an auction like this, let alone any. I remember arriving and being awe-struck over rows upon rows of various equipment and miscellaneous items up for action. We went up to the office and got our numbers. My friend was gracious enough to give me a quick "auctions for dummies" lesson and off we went to see what we could find. I worked my way up and down several rows and had found one or two items of interest, but not exactly what I was originally looking for.
For some reason earlier that morning I had thought it would be really cool to have a crank start garden tractor. I had always enjoyed when my parents would take me to the local antique car show when I was a child and there would be a few old cars with their crank handles prominently displayed out front. Then I saw the Standard Twin. It was sitting at the very end of a row. Most the paint had chipped and worn off the engine cowlings, and there was a mix of rust, dirt and grease covering the remainder of it with some faded blue and red paint here and there. I wasn't the nicest looking tractor, but it was by first sight at a Standard Twin and it sure was different. I grabbed a hold of the engine pulley and it spun free with plenty of compression. As I did so I noticed the recess in the front of the crank shaft, then the crank sitting in the holder above the transmission. A crank start?! Indeed it was, and I was completely sold on it. As history has it I ended up as the winning bidder.
After I had gotten the tractor home I was excited to get it running. The gas tank was for the most part clean inside and I had my fingers crossed that it was the same for the carburetor. I put some fresh gas in it and started cranking. At first it wouldn't light off. Then it started shooting a 6" flame straight out the exhaust, but still wouldn't start. By this time it was dark outside so I decided to quit for the evening and give it a try the next day. I thought quite a bit that evening what the issue could be. Timing maybe? Valves? I decided to take the valve covers off and have a look before I tried anything with the timing. I found that the exhaust valve for the number one cylinder was stuck partially open. I applied some oil to it and got it freed up. I then started cranking again. Before long I had it running, and I loved the sound of that in-line twin.
At this time I was a senior in high school and was required to complete a "senior project" as credit towards graduation. I recall the school explaining the requirements and giving examples of what could be done, none of which I was really interested in. I wanted to do something that represented who I was, and that I was passionate about. Then I had an idea, I could restore a tractor, but I needed to sell the idea. As most people on here know, there's more to restoring garden tractors than cleaning off dirt and rust and applying new paint. Such a task requires project management, budgeting, and in the case of my senior project, time management with a deadline. This is not to mention a little skill and patience. The school agreed that my tractor restoration project was acceptable. I had a few tractors other than the Standard Twin that were candidates for restoration, but I decided the Twin would be the best choice. It would be a challenge but wasn't too complex to where I couldn't complete it within the timeline that I had.
My goal for the Twin was to keep it as original as possible, down to every nut and bolt. Other than some cosmetic issues, the tractor was in otherwise good mechanical condition. The tractor had one main issue though, the wheels were not by any means to any data I had found through research to be original. It had what looked to be wheels off an old truck with custom hubs to fit the axles of the twin. This was going to have to change to keep it original, but I had no idea where I was going to get original wheels for a 60 year old garden tractor in the few months I had before it needed to be completed. As luck has it I was able to get in contact with someone who had a Standard Twin parts tractor for sale, including a set of original steel wheels. Everything else on the tractor was original as far as I could find, well...except for the spark plugs. This I had a solution for as well. While at a show during the summer prior I had come across a vendor selling tables full of antique spark plugs for $1.00 each. At that price I grabbed what I could, both what I knew I could use and some that may be useful in the future. Indeed I had purchased set that fit the Standard Twin, and were from the same era. I switched out the newer Champion plugs for the correct "old style" plugs after checking the gap was set correctly and to this day I think it runs better with them than any newer style plug. Next came the paint. I had found that Standard used a few different paint schemes over the years on these tractors. This one was dark blue with red. One of the valve covers had some paint that was well preserved from years of oil residue and dirt build-up. It cleaned up well and I was off to get some paint. I was able to find a red that matched closely, but the blue was more of a challenge. I had people tell me that certain paints were similar to the dark blue that Standard used, but for something that was going to decide if I would be graduating high school or not, I was in need of a better solution for the blue. That's where PPG came to the rescue. The guys at the local store were more than helpful. They took the valve cover and mixed a custom match for me, giving me tips on how to use their products. With paint in hand and all the parts cleaned up and media blasted as applicable, I got to painting. This was the first tractor I had used an HVLP spray gun on, and I wish I had gotten one sooner. It did an excellent job of applying the paint. I had noticed that the gas tank mounting bracket had a two tone paint theme two it, going from blue to red as it got up towards the tank, so I decided to mask it off and keep this original as well. With everything painted it was time for assembly, original steel wheels and all.
I was happy with how my "crank start" tractor had turned out, just in time for presentation as my senior project. I loaded it up and took it to school with me where a board of teachers awaited to judge it and my project management skills. After a full presentation on the project and everything that goes into restoring a garden tractor, everyone seemed impressed. It wasn't until I showed them the tractor in person and offered to start it that one of the teachers told me to wait as they wanted go get the Principal to see it run as well. Everyone was quite impressed as I cranked the tractor over and it came to life. I was given full credit for the project.
Years later now it has always been one of my favorite tractors to take out to shows and has been a good conversation starter with many fellow garden tractor collectors.
- twowheeler63, HANKG, VintageIronCollector and 7 others have said thanks