Benjamin Zimmerer knows diesel engines the way some kids know XBox games.
The Lindsay High School Future Farmers of America member has spent the past 10 months restoring a 1929 Twin City 21-32 tractor.
He’s earned awards for his efforts including Class Champion and Grand Champion at the Houston Livestock Show. He’s also won a combined total of $15,000 in tools and shop equipment.
Benjamin, an LHS senior, found his project tractor in Funk, Neb. and had it delivered to Gainesville.
He began working on the project in April 2011 and has spent 1,100 hours perfecting the machine.
He said mechanical repairs weren’t the biggest challenge.
“Finding the parts was the hardest part,” Benjamin said. “The tractor had not run in about 40 years and there were parts that were unusable and some missing.”
Twin Cities tractors are no longer manufactured. The Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company — also known as Twin Cities — produced tractors and tractor engines between 1902 and 1938 when the company merged with the Moline plow Company and Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company to become Minneapolis Moline Plow Company. As a result, parts for Twin Cities tractors aren’t easy to come by.
“It’s not like you can go to the John Deere or Aliss-Chalmers dealership and buy the parts,” Donna Zimmerer said.
Benjamin acquired tractor components from across the world.
A set of hoses came from England, Benjamin noted.
He bought the operator and parts manuals from an Australian seller via E-bay, Donna Zimmerer said.
“E-bay and PayPal have become his best friends,” Donna Zimmerer joked.
He purchased an air filter from Colorado, a manifold from Ohio, and other parts from 14 different states, she added.
Zimmerer competed in three major shows in the past month. At the San Angelo Livestock Show he won Class Champion and later Grand Champion.
He also took his tractor to the San Antonio Livestock Show where he earned second in class and then third overall. He also won fourth place in the AG Mechanics record book contest from a field of over 600 entries.
Last weekend, Benjamin competed in the Houston Livestock Show. He was named Class Champion and Grand Champion.
His overall prize included tools and shop equipment totaling over $15,000.
The Twin Cities tractor isn’t Benjamin’s first restoration.
“This is my third tractor to restore so I had knowledge of how to restore the tractors as correct as possible,” he said. “It takes lots of research and time to restore a tractor to its original condition.”
At Houston, San Angelo and San Antonio shows, Benjamin had to unload his tractor demonstrating how it works as he parked it.
He then completed an interview process with a panel of judges.
During the interview, he explained how he rebuilt the engine, painted the tractor and overhauled other components.
The tractor had to be historically correct down to the smallest details.
Benjamin even constructed his own replacement canopy for the tractor after researching the accessory and finding its dimensions in an old parts book.
Another Twin City owner also helped him with the canopy construction, he added.
Benjamin said he’s looking forward to attending some tractor shows in the coming months and wants to share his knowledge with friends he’s made during the restoration process.
He plans to attend Lincoln Technical School in Grand Prairie in August 2012 working toward his master certification in auto and diesel mechanics.