People sometimes leave behind more than fond memories for friends and relatives to enjoy. The 1941 Case tractor
now owned by retired engineer Morlen Reynolds, for instance, was bequeathed to him by his neighbour and
dear friend, Rudy Proulx.
Morlen Reynolds and 'Mr.Rudy" from the Ottawa Citizen
Mr. Reynolds tells how the Case came to live on his blueberry farm east of Ottawa two years ago. "Rudy
bought it about 15 years ago as a basket case. He used to say he wasn't sure why he bought it. Over the years,
he thought he had it sold three times, only no one ever came to get it. The last time he tried to sell it was about
seven years ago. He even volunteered to deliver it, but the deal still fell through."
So the tractor stayed in the Prescott-Russell farming community.
"About seven or eight years ago, he decided he'd fix it up and asked me if I could help," Mr. Reynolds
continues. "I was amazed that parts were still available. We could get anything we needed within two weeks."
Working together, the friends got the tractor operating. The Case is small by comparison to today's behemoths,
with a rounded cowl over a flathead four-cylinder gasoline engine. Research into the V-series indicates that 2,500
of this particular model were made between 1940 and 1941.
The J.I. Case company, named for founder Jerome Increase Case, had come into being 100 years earlier in Wisconsin.
In 1869, it built its first steam engine, a large contraption that was hauled around by horses. The development
of traction steam engines followed and, by 1886, Case was the world's biggest producer of steam engines. The first
Case farm tractor appeared in 1892.
In 1939, the company began painting its tractors a distinctive orange colour, called Flambeau Red or, in the
case of the Reynolds tractor, Desert Sunset.
Mr. Reynolds points to a plate on the instrument panel above the steering wheel that indicates the machine's
serial number and includes the company's "Old Abe" eagle trademark. Adopted in 1985, this logo is patterned
after a bald eagle that was the mascot of a Wisconsin regiment in the Civil War.
When Mr. Proulx died of cancer, it was his wish that the tractor take up residence with the Reynolds family.
Morlen and his wife, Brigitte, farm five acres of blueberries and manage a small apiary. He already had a couple
of John Deere tractors, including a 1952 model his father once used on the family dairy farm in the Eastern Townships
"Bees are needed to pollinate the blueberry bushes," explains Mr. Reynolds as we survey his 15 hives.
"I like to use the Case because it's quieter than the John Deeres and doesn't disturb the bees as much."
In addition to regular farm work, the Case figures prominently in the community spring cleanup along the Canaan
Road. The bright orange Case, or "Mr. Rudy" as it's been lovingly dubbed, has become part of an area
tradition, pulling a little trailer into which roadside debris is collected.
'Mr. Rudy' and the Canaan clean-up crew, 2004.
"The colour makes it noticeable on the side of the road," Mr. Reynolds says. As well, it's quiet enough
to talk over and with the wide-spaced front wheels (WFE or wide front end, as opposed to row-crop or NFE, narrow
front end) the Case is remarkably stable -- "more so than the John Deeres I grew up with," he asserts.
Munching on a Macintosh apple picked from an overhanging branch and laughing at the mixed shepherd, Gypsy, as
she chases a red squirrel,
Mr. Reynolds talks about the little Case, Mr. Rudy, that became part of his family.
Q: What sorts of things have you done to the tractor since you got it?
A: I put in little details, converted it to a 12-volt system, worked on the steering and back brakes, and
a neighbour with a passion for antique tractors did the clutch for me. It's all original parts, except for a few
I updated, but I kept the old parts.
'Mr. Rudy" gets a new clutch, thanks to neighbour Tony Weir, inset.
Q: What does this VAC decal mean?
A: Rudy and I were under the impression that this is a Case VAC but it is really a V-series. I did some
research and discovered that the VAC looked like this tractor but it was different. I'm leaving the decal on in
Q: How's the power on such an old piece of machinery?
A: The Continental engine's got great power. And the tires are incredible. It's an all-cast body, no plastic
anywhere, a heavy beast. I once used it to pull out my neighbour's big brand-new John Deere tractor. That was a
Q: What's that metal seat like to sit on?
A: Believe it or not, it is one of the most comfortable seats I've ever sat on. I am amazed. And that's
the original seat, too. There's a beautiful view when you sit there. This tractor's been well designed.
Q: Perhaps that's a reason for its longevity.
A: Yes, here it is, still running after 63 years. I question how many tractors I'd buy today that'll be
around that many years from now.
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