GOODHUE — The friendship between two families and a high schooler's knack for restoration brought new life to an old tractor this summer.
For his 4-H project at the Goodhue County Fair this year, Goodhue High School sophomore Charlie Hadler restored a 1954 Farmall Super M tractor.
Before the tractor came to his family's farm located between Goodhue and Lake City, it belonged to Gordy Boldt, who farms in Red Wing and works for the city as a wastewater treatment plant operator.
The Boldt and Hadler families go way back, Gordy Boldt said, explaining that he went to school with Charlie's grandparents and he's known Charlie since he was a baby.
Boldt said he purchased the tractor from a farmer in Glencoe, Minn. about 20 years ago. He used it on an auger to unload corn and soybeans from a bin for awhile, before he bought a different tractor, leaving the Super M idle.
"Took it on a tractor ride once or twice after that, but that's all it did here," said Boldt.
It sat in a shed until last winter, when Boldt's wife suggested it was time for him to get rid of some tractors. Shortly thereafter, Charlie's dad called saying he was in the market.
It wasn't in great shape and was filled with rust when they bought it, said Hadler. On the farm equipment marketplace MachineryPete.com, a restored and repainted 1954 Farmall Super M is listed for $5,950. Hadler paid about a third that.
Charlie Hadler starting taking the tractor apart this past winter, intending to just repaint it. But with some help from a neighbor, he decided it would be a good 4-H project. That decision was about a month before the county fair and "we really busted our backs to get it done before then," he said.
It wasn't an easy process and putting the tractor back together was much harder than taking it apart, he said. Fifteen to 20 days of work and the machine was back together — the same day it was due at the county fairgrounds.
When presenting it, Charlie said he followed the old 4-H advice to "just keep your eyes on the judge and talk a lot."
"I just kept talking until (the judge) had to stop me," he said.
The advice worked. Charlie was awarded grand champion and received a purple ribbon, which reserved him a space at the State Fair. (He chose not to go to the fair).
Now that it's restored, Charlie said the Farmall Super M will have a pretty easy life, probably being used to just drive around the neighborhood and at an antique tractor pull the family attends every year.
"We got an old hay rake I could pull behind it, so maybe I'll rake hay with it for fun," he said.
Boldt saw the restored tractor for the first time at the county fair. "I was amazed. It was a new tractor," he said.
Purple ribbon aside, Charlie said it felt pretty good when Boldt shook his hand and told him job well done.
It was a special moment for the Boldts too.
"It's just great to see neighbor kids grow up into really amazing, hard working and nice people," said Boldt's wife, Sue.