By Lisa Boonstoppel-Pot
The beat-up old 1951 Cockshutt 40 sat outside for years on Wayne Eggleston’s grandfather’s farm. One day, young Wayne asked his grandfather, Gerald Dustow, if he could start it up.
“If you are interested in getting it running, you can have it,” said Dustow to his teenage grandson.
“Well, I had it running the next day!” remembers Eggleston who farms outside of Goderich on Loyal Line. He also works for crop farmer Achim Stoecker.
However, it would take another 20 years and moving the tractor six times before it came to its full, shiny-red glory before being shown for the first time at the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association’s 61st reunion in September 2022. To his surprise and delight, the tractor won the Billy Joe Hallahan Memorial Trophy for Best Antique Tractor, 1951 and up.
“I could not believe it. I actually did not know about the trophy,” says Eggleston. In fact, he didn’t put the tractor in the nightly parade and was “encouraged” to do so on Sunday night because “something” might be waiting for him at the end.
What was far more important to Eggleston was the two or three people who came up to him with memories of his grandfather. “They called him a true, honest man,” says Eggleston and that, to him, was all the trophy he needed for spending tens of thousands of dollars on restoring a tractor that he estimated is now worth $6,500. He did it in honour of his grandfather.
The process started on the day 20 years ago when he cleaned out the carburetor and fuel tank to get it started. Eggleston imagined the rusty, dinged-up old tractor restored so he took the tractor apart and lined up the parts in his grandfather’s shed. Then he moved to Fullarton with the tractor frame and its parts where it sat for many years. A garage fire wrecked that shed but the tractor survived so it was then moved to the Loyal Line property he purchased 15 years ago with his wife Nicole. It had an old shed on site. “It sat untouched for quite a few years,” admits Eggleston.
Planning to get moving on the project, he then moved the tractor and its parts to one of Achim Stoecker’s shops where some progress was made. Then Eggleston built his own shop and shed three years ago and the Cockshutt came back home to his farm. All in all, that was six moves, including the moves on his grandfather’s farm.
“I never lost a part,” says Eggleston, as a loader tractor moved the frame and muscle moved totes of the “loose stuff” from shed to shed.
Then, in 2021, at the age of 93, Gerald Dustow passed away and Eggleston realized it was well past time to get the Canadian-made Cockshutt restored. Dustow had never pushed his grandson to finish whatsoever, but Eggleston had three generations of memories tied up in this tractor (his dad drove it too). Plus, he and Nicole have two children of their own. Marlene and Emmett will grow up to drive it someday.
The restoration process involved organizing, repairing and sandblasting every single piece of the tractor. “I didn’t really have to do all that but I am a bit fussy,” admits Eggleston. Some of the parts had to be purchased new and others machined. He particularly wants to mention and thank Yannic and Christian Burdan of Red Cat Bakery on Highway 21 outside of Goderich for their skill in doing the machining work.
“Honestly, the tractor was in terrible shape,” laughs Eggleston. The rims, grill, radiator and muffler all had to be replaced.
The tractor was then reassembled, primed and painted to its original red and cream colours. Nicole was a willing assistant and a loving support when Eggleston got frustrated. He admits there were many times he wanted to quit because of the cost and the massive amount of time it took. Not to mention the mistakes. He was sent the wrong paint for the rims so it had to be all stripped off and redone. Then, after building the new radiator, the kids knocked it over and punctured it, so it had to be fixed again. The restoration took all his spare time over the winter of 2022.
The last thing to be done was sticking on the decals and seeing it done was a “good moment” says Eggleston. “It was like a dream come true when it was finally done.”
Working alongside Achim Stoecker and Rick Pot – who were both restoring their own tractors over the winter – was also a positive part of the experience. Stoecker and Pot’s goal was to have their tractors ready for the Thresher’s Reunion and given their camaraderie, Eggleston wanted to be part of it too. So they all entered the tractor pull (two out of three did poorly) without gunning for a prize. “That wasn’t my goal,” he said.
Still, it was a proud moment for the whole family when Eggleston was presented with the trophy. It was also overwhelming for Eggleston. He says he’s a bit of a “shy guy” and doesn’t like a lot of attention. Neither did he fix the tractor as an investment because he put far more into it than the tractor will ever be worth. He did it for his grandfather.
“I think my grandfather would likely have said I was foolish for spending that kind of money on the tractor. He was very frugal,” laughs Eggleston.
However, seeing Eggleston’s face when he recounts chatting with farmers who knew his grandfather, and hearing the words “he was a true, honest man”, one can see the restoration was worth every penny. ◊