June 1, 2021 /
Jona Elwell

Restoring a 50 Year Old Tractor at the Casey Tree Farm

In the waves of pandemic shutdowns and stresses, some people turned to puzzles, camping, or baking. Many folks turned home and started spring cleaning, which is what one of our neighbors did when they finally realized they had had enough of their rusted-out tractor. 

Abandoned in a nearby field, it didn’t start, had two flat tires, and had been slowly sinking into a muddy grass field. Understandably, the owner, one of our Clarke County cooperators, wanted it out of the field because he was tired of looking at it. With that, our Nursery Manager Todd Woodfield had a different idea for a pandemic project: to restore the Oliver 1655 tractor to its former glory. After agreeing upon a small exchange, Todd was now the proud owner. Thus began a labor of love for our Nursery Manager. After all, it is not easy to not only familiarize yourself with a 50-year-old tractor but find parts and ensure it can actually run!

The restoration took 8 months to complete which included a complete paint job, four new tires, rewired electrical system, new seat, new steering wheel, new lights, new decals, many miscellaneous parts, fluids and filters, rebuilt injection pump, new sheet metal, new exhaust, new injector rail, new power steering hoses, new steps, new pto shield, new gauge, new seals – practically a new everything! 


Now the Oliver is looking good! Now that the old machine looks new she’s ready for the tractor shows and some good tractor drives around northern Virginia.  


The Oliver will now join her brothers and sisters at the Farm: 1940 Oliver 60 row crop, 1987 Simplicity 4212, 1986 Wheel horse 312-A , 1952 L.A. Case, and a 1971 Power King 2414. 


While he hit a few snags here and there, Todd praised the larger restoration and Clark County community, “Finding parts for a 50-year-old tractor can become challenging at times” but, he continued, you’re not the first person to restore a tractor and the hivemind is strong. “Sourcing parts is an element of the hobby. It lets you meet and interact with plenty of good folks that have made the same [restoration] journey.”  The power of partnership and some good ole fashioned elbow grease.

The Casey Tree Farm, originally surveyed by our first president and avid horticulturalist George Washington, occupies 730 acres of land along the Shenandoah River in Berryville, VA. We have dedicated 100 acres of that land to sustainable tree production using techniques that prioritize long-term soil health and productivity while safeguarding the overall environment and ensuring that we don’t leave our land, property, and waterways worse off. We weren’t cultivating 730 acres right away though. It’s taken years of envisioning, careful planning, attentive planting, and year-round maintenance and management.