International Harvester Collectors Club

January 2018


    I would like to share a little about a tractor restoration project started at the North Scott High School in Eldridge Iowa. Eldridge Iowa is in east central Iowa about 25 miles north west of the old Rock Island International Harvester plant. The International Harvester name runs deep in our community. Just about everyone in this area knows someone who has worked at the IH plant or has worked there themselves.
The project at North Scott FFA was started in September 2017 when a local farmer offered to sell a non-running IH 986 tractor to the local FFA Chapter . The tractor was purchased for salvage price and delivered to the FFA shop for restoration. Mr. Jacob Hunter, the FFA advisor, formed a team of students for this project. He tried to limit the number to 6 students.
The tractor had sat outside most of its life and had over 7000 hours logged on the hour meter. Rain water had gotten into the engine and the tractor sat idle for about two years. Knowing the history from the previous owner the team started to realize their challenge.
      They first had to remove all the sheet metal , air cleaner assembly , air conditioner pump, alternator, fuel pump , fuel lines , valve cover and rockers. Once this was done they needed to remove the head to see if the engine was salvageable. Once the head was removed they were able to see the engine could probably be salvaged. So from there, the team called on some Diesel engine experts. They called the local IH dealer and two other reputable diesel  mechanics, after talking to the experts. The team had what they needed to move forward with the engine tear down.
Once the head was removed the damage was obvious. Water had entered 4 cylinders causing heavy rusting in the cylinders. There was also rust on 3 of the rockers, possibly from condensation migrating through the open valves. The decision was made to pull the pistons and sleeves to replace them. Next step was to drop the oil pan. First the oil needed to be drained. When we preceded to drain the oil we were a little concerned when all that came out was one cup of oil and one cup of water. So we called the previous owner to see if the engine had been ran with no oil. He reassured us it hadn't been ran without oil. He said he had drained the oil out of the engine in hopes of getting it to run again. The team was relieved and went forward with the engine tear down. When Removing the oil pan there was a small amount of rust on the crank shaft and block.
    The project is at a pause for a few days while the students have a school break and work will resume as soon as school is back in session.
Student enthusiasm  continues to grow every day with this project. Hopefully with a little luck and a patient advisor this IH 986 we'll come back to life to preserve some of the IH history.
We are in need of a few parts for this tractor. We are in hopes to keep it as close to original as possible. If any one has any parts for a 986 please give us a call.
Thank you
North Scott FFA Ag Department
Written by Dan Urmie FFA Booster/Ag Mentor & IH Chapter 5 Member
563-370-1731 cell phone