From pieces to prizes: Cole Wolken restores 1952 tractor

Cole Wolken poses at the 1952 McCormick Farmall he and his dad Troy recently restored. (Julie Smith/News Tribune photo)
Cole Wolken poses at the 1952 McCormick Farmall he and his dad Troy recently restored. (Julie Smith/News Tribune photo)

Many teenage boys want a fast car or the most impressive gaming setup, but 15-year-old Cole Wolken wanted a nice tractor.

So he built himself one.

"All my uncles have nice tractors that look good, and I wanted a tractor that looks good, too," he said.

For three months, Cole traveled down the road from his house to his grandpa's farm in Osage Bend to work on the 1952 Farmall M tractor that his dad had brought home in buckets and pieces.

He sorted through pails of bolts to put the tractor back together. Cole's dad, Troy Wolken, guided him through the restoration of the vehicle.

"It was pretty awesome, makes you pretty proud," Troy said. "That boy put a ton of work into it."

Troy was there to help Cole every step of the way, lending a helping hand when needed.

"He helped me a lot on the sanding part and getting it to look good, and then he showed me how to paint it," Cole said. "He was right by my side when I was painting the whole thing."

With few bumps along the way, the Wolkens ran into issues with the sheet metal. With dents in the hood and pieces bent out of place, the two of them had to figure out how to make the tractor look as good as new.

"That whole process was very difficult," Troy acknowledged. "We had some friends and family that knew how to do that work help us out and show Cole how to use some different tools."

The tractor now glows a glossy, cherry red with bright white wheels. It has 80 horsepower and can pull up to 5,500 pounds -- about as heavy as a rhinoceros or a small elephant, though this tractor usually pulls sleds.

Below the seat, Cole decided to honor his grandparents by placing their logo in white on the tractor.

"That's just believing in your family. We have a lot of pride in our family," Troy said. "It's just a logo that we're really proud of. I see that logo, and I think of all the hard work."

A book of photos -- held together with a binder ring -- has been following the tractor from place to place. The photos were taken through every stage of reconstruction. Now, the book also has a blue first-place ribbon dangling from a gold string awarded by the FFA at this year's Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair.

Cole said winning the first-place ribbon was "pretty cool." The restored tractor will also be shown in August at the Missouri State Fair.

Now that his big project is finished, Cole plans to continue to help his grandparents with work on the century-old farm.

But of course, when one project ends, another one begins.

"I'd like to do my dad's (tractor) next," Cole said. "His is all rusty."

  photo Cole Wolken works on restoration of a 1952 McCormick Farmall M tractor.   
  photo  Tractor parts occupy the shop where Cole Wolken and his father Troy worked to restore a 1952 Farmall tractor.  

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