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The Old CASE: Part One

Thirty years ago we'd moved to Southern Maine and were renting a house with a sixty foot long double wide driveway. Before the first Winter there I'd called my brother and learned that he'd been given a 1973 CASE 442 and would be happy to sell it to me for what he had into it, a little less than $400. I rented a trailer and brought it home.

It came with a snow caster in pieces. I didn't know how to get the snow caster working (at that time for five dollars a month and you could connect the computer to local bulletin boards so no help there.) Instead I sawed off the auger part and built a plywood plow for it. The plow could only push to one side but in the wide driveway with lots of space to the sides it worked great, if I could get the tractor going. One time I jumped it from the car and managed to hook up the jumpers wrong and got the voltage regulator smoking pretty good, but it still worked afterward. Yes, I was clueless!

Then we bought a house with a 300 foot long narrow driveway. There wasn't much room to push the snow aside and the problem with a thousand pound tractor is once the plow ridge gets two feet high the snow pushes back. I could go at the ridge by using the tractor sideways in the drive and make more room, but when we had a real snowy year I ended up buying a inexpensive MTD snow blower for the late season storms when there was no room left to push the snow.

In the Winter I kept that Old CASE in the basement so the battery stayed warm and it would start (Did I mention I was clueless?) Other than snow removal I didn't do much else with the old girl. The extent of repairs included replacing the car muffler with a CASE muffler, replacing one calcium chloride filled turf tire when it split for $200, (That was a mistake, I should have replaced both tires!) and adding a covered top made from tubes.

I moved to my little farm in North Central Maine 2005. Back in the 1940's and 50's when the primary infrastructure here was a narrow gauge train this little farm was once a valuable resource for locally grown food. The previous owner used a Farmall Cub and made a nice little extra income growing squash, though in his old age the farm had become run down and overgrown. I had no delusions about making income from a few thousand square feet of garden, but couldn't see letting a valuable resource go to waste and set about getting the farm functioning again.

At that time I had a new computer, a lightening fast 9600 baud internet connection for $12 a month , and I found MTF. I downloaded parts and wiring diagrams, and often looked to MTF for advice on the various assorted problems that cropped up and made a sincere effort to keep the old girl in good repair even as I was I working her hard.

I used the old CASE to collect firewood, move loads of straw and grasses for compost and construction, and plowing snow of course which became easier after I found an Ingersoll plow blade for $100 that fit. I had plenty of room beside the 300 foot long driveway so even with much more snow this far North I never had to use the snow blower, though after real snowy years the driveway would get pretty narrow. I found pull implements including a small disc harrow and a Brinley plow for $100, and with a local welding companies help made a sleeve hitch for it for another $100. I also added a $250 engine to a tiller I found here on the farm and made it tow-able. In about three years the the sixty-five year old garden was once again feeding me, my neighbors and the local food cupboard. Plus I had room for sunflowers to feed the birds and pollinators.

I guesstimate I spent about $700 on repairs during this period. A fuel pump that baffled me because it worked intermittently. An insert when I learned I shouldn't pull a hot plug from an aluminum head. A couple unsuccessful attempts to have someone create a replacement for a leaky double hydraulic tube. I rewired it with heavier gauge wire and shiny new connectors. A added half inch steel bar and hardware to reinforce the frame after one side broke. That was the first time I used a stick welder for a real job, but I didn't trust my weld so I added the bars under the seat/fender assembly using slightly longer bolts through the frame and into the trans axle. (Works great!) I also spent $200 to replace the worn out steering parts. Of course I'd finally figured out how often it needs the battery and plug replaced etc., etc..

By 2008 she was getting tired, moving ever more slowly yet valiantly struggling along. I knew soon it would need a major overhaul. I found a beat up newer CASE 446 garden tractor as backup. And then one day in the Spring of 2009 I was plowing the garden, and while it was still pulling the plow it was moving ever more slowly until at the end of the last row it stopped. She was done.

I realized it needed a serious overhaul. How much will that cost? How long will that take? Can I even find the parts for a twenty-eight year old tractor whose maker had long gone out of business? Is it worth it?

How much would it have cost to pay someone to plow the driveway for eighteen years? Forget professional landscapers that know how tough snow plowing is on a truck and charge appropriately, think of a guy with a pickup trying to make extra cash who might do it for $25. Given week maybe ten storms a year it would have cost me about $4500 to hire a plow guy. While garden tractors requires more finesse than brute strength plow trucks, I'd say that tractor paid for itself. I thought it was worth it.

Continued in about a week or so in Part 2....
Tire Wheel Vehicle Snow Automotive tire
Wheel Tire Tractor Vehicle Motor vehicle
 

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Nice story. That Case is one strong machine.

I think if it were me, I'd repower it with another new or lightly used 12hp engine and rebuild the original as time and money allows.
Keep that good old iron going, you can't find anything new like it.
 
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I agree with trying to bring it back to life....call Norman at ISaveTractors.com 207-298-9701 .....he has whatever you would need to rebuild or replace that engine...he answers his phone and is really helpful...thank you for the pictures and the story.....it is surprising how much work those horizontal shafr 12 HP engines can do
 

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Hi there - great story, and I love the look of those old case tractors. Keep it going.
A couple of things in your story caught my attention:
1. You mention replacing the plug in a hot aluminum engine - I looked it up at Tractordata and it looks like it should have a K-series Kohler engine that would be cast iron. Maybe it has been replaced, or maybe you were talking about the tiller engine?
2. Your description of going slower and slower until not going at all sounds more like a transmission issue than an engine issue, though you didn't provide enough info to really tell. Those 400-series Case tractors have a hydraulic transmission (not a hydrostatic) that may be worn enough so it doesn't provide enough pressure to make it go. You might investigate that side of the equation.
 
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Given that the decision to fix or not occurred 13 years ago, I bet that it is either fixed and still with us, or crushed long ago.

Great writing, keep it coming! Staying tuned in for part 2.

Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
 

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Love it so far! I bought an engine-less Case about 2 years ago and after putting back an engine only a fraction the size of what it should have, i still love it..

Here is mine!

Waiting for part 2..
 
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