I'm going to nominate my 1974 Gravely C-8 tractor. In 1995 I was dwelling in an apartment, had been for over 10 years, and did not own any lawn equipment, and had really given no thought to owning any lawn equipment. However, I was vaguely responsible for my father's house and the 2.5 acres that came with the house. During a visit to the house to ready it for new tenants, I discovered that no one had been maintaining the meadow surrounding the house, and numerous pine trees had grown up, many of them 7 feet tall and over 2 inches at base. I wanted to clear these meadows, and return them to the original grassy state they had been, as my father was going to be retiring and moving into the house in a few years. The first step I took to tame the tangled growth was to rent a machine from a local company and use it. Between safety switches, a locked differential, and a lack of power for my problem, that machine worked me more than I worked it!
Now, I grew up using a Gravely tractor, and by the end of that day, I said to myself "I am going to buy a Gravely tractor, because I KNOW it will do the job." But the problem was, where could I find a Gravely to buy? I had not seen one in years. So, I called the Gravely company and asked if there were any dealers close to me that were still ordering parts for older Gravely tractors. The closest dealer we found was in Roanoake Virginia, about 3 & 1/2 hours away. First, I tried talking to the dealer, who wanted far too much for a tractor. Then I placed a "Wanted" ad in the local Roanoake paper, hoping to find someone who would sell me a tractor. Eventually, a gentleman called me and said he would sell me his old tractor, a 1974 Gravely C-8 with a bush hog and a sulky. We had a pleasant conversation, and when I found out where he lived, I couldn't believe it! He lived in my childhood town of Marion, Virginia, though he didn't know my family. At any rate, we agreed on a time and a date, and I arranged to travel with my wife for the pick-up.
I arrived and found the tractor in good condition, ready to work, and paid for it, loaded it into the truck and eventually arrived back at my Dad's house with it. I worked and worked on that meadow, cutting up brambles, trimming under overgrown grape vines, and avoiding anything with a trunk diameter larger than an inch. The larger pine trees were pulled out by the roots with a winch so as not to leave long-lasting stumps behind.
I have now owned this tractor for 17 years. I have only owned my own home for 12. When I finished my work at Dad's house, I pulled the engine off and had it bored, sleeved, and new piston and rings installed. I also found a crack in one of the handlebars and welded that, then welded a reinforcement plate to the handlebar. I re-engineered the PTO engagement lever so that it would engage and disengage more easily, painted the hood and the handlebars, and switched tires to a wider 16x6.50x8. Until last year, I used this tractor to mow my lawn, plow my garden, plow snow and a myriad of other chores. If there is a tough job to be done, my first question is "Can I do this with my Gravely?" When the Raleigh area received a record 20 inch snowfall in 1999, my Gravely was ready to go with a home built "V" plow. When Dad wanted to go camping at his old family farm, grown up in pines and brush, the Gravely was there, ready to clear a road and cut a clearing. When I was putting a fence up at our new home, and the post hole digger I rented could not penetrate the dry dirt, the Gravely was there to start the holes so water could soak into the dry dirt. I expect that one day, when my kids are grown, one of them will say "Can I borrow the Gravely?" and it will be there, ready to go!
Edited by HowardsMF155, February 08, 2014 - 02:41 PM.