VON ORMY — While it’s common for families to pass down small mementos from one generation to another, a San Antonio-area family is taking a larger, more agrarian approach.
The Verstraeten clan in Von Ormy hands down tractors to the children, and teenagers Brett and Corey Verstraeten wound up with their grandfather’s dilapidated and rusted 1953 Allis Chalmers Model G.
But the old tractor, discarded about 20 years ago because it was no longer practical for plowing, has been restored to its vintage, blaze-orange condition by the brothers.
Now, they’ve been named finalists for the 2013 Tractor Restoration Competition in Louisville, Ky., the San Antonio Express-News reported.
The brothers will be one of 12 teams — eight of them from Texas — judged at the Future Farmers of America Convention, which starts Oct. 30.
“We spent almost 300 hours on the sucker,” said Brett, a 17-year-old student at Southwest High School. “You have to restore it to basically what it looked like when it came out of the factory.”
Von Ormy is a recently incorporated, lightly developed town of about 1,500 residents 15 miles southwest of San Antonio.
Brett and Corey, 13, a student at McNair Middle School, started rehabbing the tractor in July 2012.
The tractor served the family well for about 40 years as it tilled smaller vegetable plots, but as the Verstraetens moved toward corn, cotton, wheat and other crops, larger plots were needed that required newer, more efficient equipment.
The Chalmers Model G was parked in the corner of a barn for years until the brothers got their hands on it, at the urging of their father, Jerry.
“It’s a tradition to pass (tractors) down so you kind of have a heritage and piece of family history,” Brett explained.
He said the project allowed him and his brother to bond and was something of an extension of what they had done before — they’ve showed livestock, and now they’re showing a tractor.
The teams in Louisville will be graded on the restoration process, safety precautions, results, documentation and oral presentations.
Teams have a chance at prizes ranging from $10,000 for the grand champion to $3,000 for third place.
The brothers’ restoration efforts were led by agriculture science teachers Mackenzie Haag and Doug Townsend.
Haag said it’s difficult to maintain an FFA club for students as the area continues to grow and the rural landscape shrinks. But the brothers come from a farming background that allows them to maintain a tradition and compete in the restoration event, he said.