Advice on buying Super A

Farmall Super A, AV, 1939 - 1954

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Advice on buying Super A

Postby rhino72 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:08 pm

I'm new here, but have been lurking for a while. I have been looking for a small tractor to tinker with, cultivate a garden, and maybe move some snow. I found what was described as a 1947 MODELA CUB. I looked at the pictures and the cowl has a Super A decal on it (old, original, faded). I assume that it's a Super A, and not an A or a Cub, but I'm still learning my way around old Farmalls. It includes snow chains and a snow plow.

I haven't gone to look at it yet, but according to the seller it is complete, and was running when parked by the now-deceased previous owner. He bought it from that man's son 6 years ago, intending to eventually restore it, but has never started it or messed with it. He has other tractors and has lost interest in the project.

I know it needs a rear rim - the left one is rusted through. The owner thinks it would start and run with a new battery and a tune up. He wants $450 for it. I'm pretty good at tinkering, so not too scared of trying to get it running.

I was wondering if it seems like an OK price considering the basically unknown running condition. Also, when I go look at it, what to look for, to avoid any major problems (what normally goes really wrong with these, and how to look for them on a non-running tractor). I also need to know how to tell what model it really is!

Thanks for your help! I've been enjoying reading all the posts on this forum. It looks like there are a lot of Farmall experts here!
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby Matt Kirsch » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:11 pm

Welcome to the forum!

As you can imagine, a piece of machinery that has stood the test of time for 65 years give or take will not have any particular "weak points" or areas that "normaly goes really wrong."

The problem with that is, literally anything could be worn out on the tractor and ready to give way at a moment's notice. That is the price you pay for tinkering with old tractors like this. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

In non-running condition, the tractor is worth about $200 per ton of weight plus the value of the snowplow. If the tractor has the factory International A60 snowplow, that could be worth the $450 right there if complete and in good shape.

The big question is, is the engine free? If it is stuck and has been outside with no cover over the muffler, it's going to be pretty bad. You will likely end up putting pistons and sleeves in the engine to get it running. Kept inside and stuck, it might just be lightly stuck and will come loose with a little magic potion and some time, but you need to be able to confirm that the tractor was kept inside and not just put there for the sake of the sale.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby Eugene » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:57 pm

Typically its much cheaper to purchase a tractor in ready for field work condition.

Running when parked
Doesn't mean any thing. All tractors were running when parked, being parked thousands of times.

Money pit.
I have an excuse. CRS.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby rhino72 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:08 pm

Thanks for the input, Matt and Eugene. Good advice.

The plow isn't an original, and it's been stored outside, buried in snow for 3 or 4 months at a time. Based on what you've told me it's probably not worth messing with.

I talked to my uncle about it, and he offered me his Ford 9N for free (runs well), so it looks like I'm going that direction instead. Thanks for helping me with the decision.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby ricky racer » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:02 pm

A free, good running tractor beats a non-running pig in a poke for sure. However myself, I wouldn't walk away from the A just like that. While I would jump on the Ford offer, I would also check out the A better. You never know, a new battery and a carb cleaning, it might start right up. If the generator generates and hydraulics work, add a good used rim and you might have a good $1200-$1500 tractor to use as trade bait or sell to have money put towards implements for the Ford.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby Super A » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:16 pm

I agree if it's complete, $450 is a great price, especially if it's a Super A.

Frankly, I would rather have one good Super A than a tractor trailer load of N-series Fords. But a free tractor is a free tractor.

By all means, check out the Farmall just to be on the safe side.

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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby rhino72 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:51 pm

Hmmm, that gives me more to think about. One factor is that the Super A is here and the Ford is 600 miles away. I'll go look at it, and see if I can turn the engine over by hand. Thanks again for the input - keep the thoughts coming. I like the Farmall better, too, but free is free.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby ricky racer » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:05 pm

rhino72 wrote:Hmmm, that gives me more to think about. One factor is that the Super A is here and the Ford is 600 miles away. I'll go look at it, and see if I can turn the engine over by hand. Thanks again for the input - keep the thoughts coming. I like the Farmall better, too, but free is free.


Well, free may not be free. Let's see 600 miles there 600 miles back equals 1200 miles. In my truck that would equal about 120 gallons of fuel at $3.50 per gallon that comes to $420. You can probably get the price down on the Farmall to $400, however the Ford runs and Farmall doesn't. You've got some things to think about.

Get some pictures and post them so we can see what kind of shape it is in.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby Super A » Wed Oct 02, 2013 5:00 am

Even if stuck, a Super A (if it is a Super) is a pretty good deal at $400. It's worth more than that in parts.

I'm pretty biased against Fords; when it comes to the N series there's lots of hype and not much substance. Even if it was next door I would think long and hard.

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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby rhino72 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:57 am

Here are some pictures from the ad. I notice in one that it looks like the exhaust pipe is leaning over, then it's not in the others. If that's the case, it has probably been filled with water many times over. The snow plow frame is in place, but the plow itself is detached and in his barn, I think. I'm going to try to break away from work today and look at it in person. I would guess that the chains alone would be worth $100 or more.

I'm going to my uncle's town for Thanksgiving, so the mileage there is a non-issue, other than the additional fuel needed to pull a trailer over the mountains.

Thanks again for looking and commenting. The input is really helpful. I really like the Farmall better than the 9N, so it's a tough choice. Winter will hit soon, and it'll be harder for me to work on a tractor, because it'll just be under an open shed (not in a nice barn or shop). I live at 7300', and the snow gets pretty deep.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby ricky racer » Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:57 am

Looks weathered but overall, not too bad. If the motor is stuck expect to sink at least $1000 into it.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby Lt.Mike » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:33 pm

I see it has a coil and distributor. I've come to appreciate a tractor that has a magneto as the last A I bought had. I just think magnetos are easier. That A was an all original '46 with the 6volt system and all the important parts were there. That one was yard art for the better part of the last 6+ years. It was all green with moss. The battery was dead but I brought a hand crank with me and finding out it wasn't stuck I fiddled with it and got it to cough. The seller was asking $650 and though I wasn't showing a good poker face we made the deal at $550. Once home I flushed the rust and bad gas out of the tank. Borrowing a clean carb off another tractor and it fired right up with the hand crank. One brake was stuck and it needs little stuff but it will be a fun project down the road. Around here anything that runs is a bargain under a grand. A running tractor here usually goes for around $1400. Educate yourself a little on what replacement parts that it might need may cost. Battery boxes are always shot and are about $100 to replace. Check tire prices, a new set of tires can set you back $700. If your not under a time crunch and are patient, haunting ebay, craigs list and with the help from the folks here you can find fair deals on what you need saving you a bundle. Any parts or implements that you get thrown in on the deal is important as you can barter for what you need helping yourself and another tractor lover with their project.
As for my yard art A,it's in storage. I don't intend to work on it any time soon but I still have been picking away at parts I need for it when and where I find them. When I'm ready it'll all be there.
Good luck with it.
:thumbsup:
PS- All the parts seem to be there. I'm surprised to see the Donaldson pre-cleaner wasn't robbed off of it.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby John *.?-!.* cub owner » Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:21 am

It is a super A, but the frame work, presumably for the snow plow, does not appear to be factory. That does not mean it should be avoided, some of those shop built rigs can be pretty good. If it has set outside with the exhaust uncovered, a head rebuild/replacement may be required, in addition to new pistons and sleeves.
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Re: Advice on buying Super A

Postby Lt.Mike » Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:59 pm

John *.?-!.* cub owner wrote:It is a super A, but the frame work, presumably for the snow plow, does not appear to be factory. That does not mean it should be avoided, some of those shop built rigs can be pretty good. .

I agree!
I see character and some small historic value in clever farmer solutions that either repaired the tractor at one time or equip it for a specific task. I guess that's American ingenuity as basic as it can be and in my opinion these repairs or modifications enhance the value of an old tractor. Oh I'd still knock out dents and vanquish rust but a really nice weld repair or clever mod would have to survive the restoration. :wink:
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