For 26 years, the Chevron Tractor Restoration Competition (TRC) has recognized young people with an interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Awardees demonstrate ability in tactile learning, critical thinking and teamwork skills, all while showcasing vintage agricultural machinery.
The nominees for the competition are narrowed down to 12 finalists. The finalists this year were then invited to the finals at the National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, Nov. 1 – 4. Finalists will make an oral presentation about their project to a panel of four tractor restoration specialists who then select the winners. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on the second night of the expo.
Andrew Hanna, 18, of Greenwich, CT, is one of this year’s finalists. He is currently a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in off road equipment at Penn State.
According to Hanna, his interest in mechanical restoration goes back a long way. “I have always been tinkering with things,” he said. “It started with taking stuff apart just to see what was inside. I like figuring out how things work, or how I can make them better.”
Hanna’s first repair was on a lawn mower that he rescued from the metal recycling pile at the town transfer station. “I fixed the mower and sold it. I made some money and had fun in the process so I started picking up more non-functional mowers and other lawn equipment,” he said. “I also was able to find dirt bikes and quads I could repair and then ride in the woods.”
When Hanna was young, his great-uncle passed away and his father took possession of two tractors from his collection, a John Deere M and John Deere B, and Andrew’s interest was piqued.
“When I was 14 I bought my first John Deere B in New Jersey. The engine was stuck but eventually I was able to get the pistons moving,” he said. “After much time and effort, I had it running. The next year I bought another B that most people would have considered worse than a parts tractor. I rebuilt the engine and eventually had that B running as well.”
Hanna had officially caught the antique tractor bug.
He began using social media to share both his projects and his progress. “I watched TikTok for entertainment, but when I started seeing other creators posting videos about fixing trucks and tractors, I started posting a few videos,” he explained. “Eventually one video gained lots of views so I started posting more frequently. People seemed to enjoy the videos so I kept making them and slowly gaining more and more of a following. The comments from my followers have been helpful in my projects.”
Hanna thinks creators like him build interest in the antique tractor hobby. He hopes his videos help motivate people of all ages to go out to the garage or under a shade tree to fix something.
“I started taking my tractors to tractor pulls in Connecticut and have met many other teenagers that love working on the tractors,” he said. “Since I learned by watching videos on YouTube, I post my longer videos there so others may learn something from my projects.”
This is Hanna’s first time competing in the Chevron TRC. He learned about the competition when reading about the 2022 contest in the Fall 2022 Oliver Heritage Magazine.
“I had a couple projects in progress but wanted to document a full restoration of a tractor for the 2023 Chevron TRC so I found a Farmall M with a stuck engine behind some trees in a shed in southern New Jersey and thought it would be a good challenge,” he said.
Asked what he’s found most challenging about the project, Hanna replied that there have been many challenges. “What I find the hardest is staying motivated throughout the whole project. When you are a month into the project and have hundreds of parts scattered across the garage, it is easy to lose sight of the end goal,” he said. “I did not start the Farmall M restoration until mid-May and the Chevron TRC report and video were due in mid-August. I was working full-time as a heavy equipment mechanic in the summer so it was a lot of late nights and full weekends to get the restoration done.”
Hanna said he especially loves being able to look at a service manual written 80 years ago and being able to follow along. “I sometimes wonder if the engineers back then ever imagined that others would be admiring their designs so many years later,” he said.
Although he’s worked on a lot of antique equipment, Hanna does have a soft spot for a certain project. “Maybe it is because it was the first antique tractor I drove,” he mused, “but my favorite is the John Deere B. The unique, simple horizontal two-cylinder design makes them easy to work on and reliable. For example, you can completely replace the clutch without having to split the tractor like you would on other brands. Although changing the muffler can be a challenge, which is why we see so many JD Bs with cut hoods.”
Regardless of the outcome of the TRC, Hanna knows his future plans will be both busy and rewarding. “I would like to design and improve machines of the future,” he said. “I will continue to make videos to share my experiences on my projects. I am enjoying my classes at school but I am looking forward to working on my tractor projects during winter break. There is a Farmall H that I have the engine ready for reassembly, another John Deere B that needs to be put together and the non-running Oliver Super 55 I recently purchased on an online auction that I have not even seen in person yet.”
The prizes for the TRC are as follows: Grand Champion ($10,000), Reserve Champion ($5,000), third place ($3,000), Fan Favorite ($150), Runner-Up Fan Favorite ($100), Best Photo ($100 and a framed print), Best Presentation ($100) and Safety Award ($500).
To learn more about the TRC, visit chevronlubricants.com/en_us/home/learning/about-our-brands/delo/tractor-restoration-competition.html.
by Enrico Villamaino