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Keeping the old Cat running

On his ranch near Turtle Lake, Wilfred Hamm is still using his 820 John Deere and D4 Caterpillar

Wilfred Hamm has a large collection of old and antique farm machinery, and much of it is still used on his ranch near Turtle Lake, Saskatchewan.

Wilfred uses an 820 John Deere for cultivating summer fallow. The 820 John Deere is a two-cylinder diesel. It has a four-cylinder pony engine which runs on gas. Wilfred says the John Deere always starts, and requires little maintenance, other than oil changes. Wilfred and his son, Paul, both weld, and can tackle many repair jobs on their own.

The JD 820 Diesel has a four-cylinder gas motor  that starts the diesel engine. Wilfred says it always starts.

The JD 820 Diesel has a four-cylinder gas motor that starts the diesel engine. Wilfred says it always starts.
photo: Lisa Guenther

But the John Deere’s six-volt generator doesn’t work anymore, and Wilfred can’t source another one. This means that after a week or so of work he has to recharge the battery.

The old JD isn’t the most comfortable ride — in fact, Wilfred’s the only one who uses it regularly. It’s quite loud, so he has to wear hearing protection. But it does have power steering, and Wilfred says he can run it for half the cost of his newer tractor, which has front-wheel assist and an air-conditioned cab.

The little cat

This D4 Caterpillar is still used on the Hamm ranch, near Turtle Lake, Saskatchewan.

Wilfred Hamm originally bought the Cat to skid logs.

Wilfred Hamm originally bought the Cat to skid logs.
photo: Lisa Guenther

Wilfred Hamm says he originally bought the Cat to skid logs. Wilfred and his family used to run a sawmill, and they still mill their own lumber for corrals and farm buildings. They also use the Cat to bring in wood to heat one house and two shops on the ranch. The dozer blade comes in handy when clearing snow or brush.

The D4 Cat pre-dates hydraulics, and so a cable winch lifts the dozer. Breaking cables aren’t a problem, Wilfred says, as they replace the cables once they start to fray.

The engine is a four-cylinder diesel. It has an electric start pony engine, which runs on gas. The D4 was bought second-hand several years ago, but Wilfred says the only issue he’s had was a leaky radiator, which he replaced.

About the author

Field Editor

Lisa Guenther

Lisa Guenther is field editor for Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. You can follow her on Twitter @LtoG.

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