Every year FFA students from all across Iowa roll up their sleeves to complete the dirty job of restoring their antique tractors. About a year ago, Micah Rolwes pulled his Farmall 856 Diesel out of the shed to begin the long process of restoring a tractor. Micah is a Farley, Iowa resident and a member of the West Dubuque FFA. When he looks at his Farmall 856 now, he is filled with a sense of pride for all that he’s accomplished.
We met up with Micah at the Iowa State Fair where he was entered in the FFA Ag Mechanics and Technology Show. Micah is the first member of his family to take on a tractor restoration and to compete in the Ag Mechanics show. Micah received 2nd Place in his category, making all the hard work worth it.
“It’s been on the farm for about 30 years now. Grandpa bought it in 1990 from a guy in town, and we’ve had it since,” said Micah. During its life at the Rolwes farm, the Farmall 856 was used to plow and also as an auger tractor.
The Farmall 856 was well-loved before the Rolwes family retired it. “It has about 3,800 hours on it since we overhauled it a couple of years ago, but that was before we even started restoring it,” said Micah.
The restoration process was a dirty and educational experience. “There were a couple of oil leaks that were pretty bad that we had to fix,” said Micah. When Micah was almost finished with his restoration, he forgot to tighten down one of the tubes under the hydraulic seat. When he started the tractor, there was oil everywhere. The mess was just a part of the learning experience that is restoring an antique tractor.
To restore the Farmall 856 to its former glory, Micah needed to give the tractor a much-needed facelift. “We had to swap out the front end because it was shot. There were bolts welded on to it, and it just didn’t look very good,” said Micah. After the mechanics were complete, Micah painted the Farmall 856 its signature red color. When the paint was dry, he was able to install a Hy-Capacity seat.
Hy-Capacity has been a proud sponsor of the Iowa FFA Association since 2013. As a contribution to the hard-working FFA members of Iowa, Hy-Capacity has donated restoration grade seats to FFA members working on antique tractor restorations.
Now that Micah has completed his restoration, he plans to use the 856 primarily as a parade tractor. “We are going to load some corn into town, give it a workout now and then,” said Micah. He is going to make sure that it stays in pristine shape for many years to come.
Micah’s family has been farming all of his life. “Grandpa’s got like 40 head of Holsteins that he fattens out. I have cows and calves,” said Micah.
“They used to raise sows and piglets back in the day when dad was little,” said Micah, “We used to have a lot more tractors and a lot more pigs and acres, but we kind of downsized a bit.” Micah plans on going into the automotive business after he graduates from high school.
Micah said that the most rewarding part of this process has been, “being able to stand back and look at it and say, you know, I did all of this.” Looking back from a year ago when Micah began his restoration, Micah has realized the immense difference that he has made on his tractor. Micah's Farmall 856 is on display at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa until Sunday.