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From rusted to restored

Two girls rebuild tractor for agricultural mechanics show

Courtesy of Brianna Ramsay
Seniors Brianna Ramsay and Sarah Winters display the Minneapolis-Moline tractor they restored.

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The completed tractor sits in the shop after months of work, the six coats of prairie gold paint glimmer underneath the fluorescent lights. The two girls look up at their final product, proud.

Seniors Sarah Winters and Brianna Ramsay earned a red ribbon in the agricultural mechanic show in Houston April 17.

FFA puts on this ag mechanic show, and there is a tractor restoration part,” Ramsay said. “It’s a six month process. Once you get to the show, the judges will ask you questions about your tractor.”

The competitors are judged through six components: paint job, engine, rear end, record book and overall knowledge.

“The judges will get a flashlight and look at your tractor,” Ramsay said. “They look at every nitpicky corner. If I could’ve changed anything, I would have taken out the transmission. That’s the one thing we didn’t do and they docked us for it.”

The girls started their project on Sept. 21 and chose to restore Winters’s grandfather’s Minneapolis-Moline  tractor, which is rare because the company shut down in the 1970s.

The main issue with doing a rare tractor is you can’t find parts anymore, so you have to improvise or make something.”

— Sarah Winters, 12

“The main issue with doing a rare tractor is you can’t find parts anymore, so you have to improvise or make something,” Winters said. “Half the time we lost the parts that were in the shop, so we spent multiple hours just trying to find parts. We also had to take the tractor back apart last minute because we forgot one bolt. It would’ve completely ruined our tractor.”

The two spent much of their free time working on the tractor, working up to 10 hours on days when work or school was not an issue.

“We spent all of Thanksgiving break, all of Christmas break, working on the tractor,” Ramsay said. “We stuck together for six months, working on this thing. There were times we weren’t sure if it was going to get done.”

Winters said they rarely saw their family, but it was understood the project needed to be finished.

“We didn’t have a sponsor at all, which is really rare,” Winters said. “My dad put 100 percent of his money into it. My dad taught Bri and me everything. He was basically our coach through everything. We had a lot of family support.”

The girls received a number of ribbons for their tractor in past competitions. In San Angelo they received a blue and in San Antonio, a red.

“At the end of it they either hand out a blue ribbon or a red ribbon,” Winters said. “The blue ribbon indicates that you will be in the top half and you’ll place. Our results are not what we wanted, but honestly I’m so proud of where we got. The color of the ribbon didn’t matter to me at the end of the show.”

Despite not earning a blue ribbon in Houston, the pair had success in other areas.

Our results are not what we wanted, but honestly I’m so proud of where we got. ”

— Sarah Winters, 12

“We actually got asked to intern next year,” Ramsay said. “We’re not sure of what the details are on interning. We know they want us they want us to do something with showmanship, which is where you walk around undercover and help judge. We could also be organizing things or walking around with other judges and keep time.”

Ramsay said the pair worked well together and never got angry with each other.

“There never was a time we wanted to quit,” Ramsay said. “We really wanted to see the finished product. It’s our last year to do it, so we wanted to make it a good one.”

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