Step by Step: Restoring a Classic Tractor

  • Slide

    It's hard to believe this 1961 IH 560 Diesel with IH Turbo was in a worse for the wear condition. Owner, Kenny Ekstrom of northwest Iowa saw promise in this tractor and sought after getting it restored.

  • Slide 1

    The "new" tractor has been delivered from its previous home. The tractor runs and it moves, but it’s obvious it is going to need a lot of work. The first task at hand is to find another front wheel so it is a bit safer to drive.

  • Slide 2

    A wide front end has now been put on the tractor. A local body shop fixed the minor dents in the hood and primed it for the restoration process. Quandt Repair from Schleswig, IA split the tractor and replaced the clutch and a rear main seal. A new injection pump, injectors and glow plugs were also installed. Purchases would include a new seat, steering wheel, decal set, emblems, tires, turbo, chrome exhaust pipe and wheel weights to start with.

  • Slide 3

    Once the tractor arrived at Bill Pemble’s shop in Sac City, IA he began the restoration process. The hood was removed and a refurbished head was installed on the engine. A close overall check was done looking for oil leaks that could be seeping through in multiple places. This is important not only to fix the leak now, but preventing oil runs on the new paint.

  • Slide 4

    As you can see, the back wheels are now off. The oil pan has been removed in order to hammer out the dents. The front wheels have been replaced with temporary wheels during the process of painting. A process has begun of power washing, removing the old paint, spraying with paint remover and following with more power washing. This is repeated as many times as necessary to prep the tractor for new paint.

  • Slide 6

    After applying a primer coat, the dry surface is wet sanded. Two coats of paint with hardener will complete the process. It’s a long wait for the paint to dry. Waiting 24-48 hours is essential between coats, depending on drying conditions. The process of painting with a hand sprayer begins with the front-end weight bracket and the front end. Managing the flow of the paint is essential to avoid runs. 

  • Slide 7

    The wheel weights have been painted with IH white and are hung to dry. These will be bagged while hanging to prevent color drift from the red paint. IH white is a slightly cream color and not an actual white. Color preference of wheel weights and the front wheels are determined by the owner and is usually white or red.

  • Slide 8

    Due to the size of the tire and the rim, the center of the wheel has been welded within the rim to provide the desired look in the overall appearance of the tire. Many times they are mounted inside out to provide clearance for the front end.

  • Slide 8-2

    New tires have been mounted on the wheels prior to painting. The wheel cannot be painted separately from the tire because it will get scratched when mounting the tire on the rim. While the color may be either white or red for these wheels, the owner preferred white.

  • Slide 9

    The air cleaner, hood, lower hood panels, lower part of the dash and grill pieces are some of the smaller parts being painted on this workbench. Painting the different parts separately is essential in creating a professional looking job.

  • Slide 10

    Nearing completion of applying the IH red paint, it’s really starting to come together and a vision of the completed tractor is coming into focus. The old steering wheel was temporarily placed back on to turn the front end during the painting process.

  • Slide 11

    The dash was painted black per the owner’s request to complement the tractor’s finishing details. This may also be painted grey if preferred. A new tachometer, water temperature and fuel gauge were also inserted.

  • Slide 13

    A closer look at the tractor shows many new details. New emblems, a new Turbo decal in addition to other decals, a chrome exhaust pipe, new bolts in the hood, and specialty painting on the front-end weights highlighting the IH logo, all bring this old tractor to a new life.

See from start to finish the process of restoring a IH 560 Diesel.

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