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Forgotten combine tuned up for harvest again

The 1947 Cockshutt was likely abandoned for 60 years before an auto body technician decided to repair it

WESTERN PRODUCER — The saying, “they don’t build things like they used to,” was on the mind of rural Saskatchewan resident Borden Ylioja as he set about restoring a 1947 Cockshutt combine left to rust for decades in a field, covered in trees and which had become a home for porcupines.

Ylioja said he stumbled across the combine while riding his all-terrain vehicle and after taking a closer look, he realized it was probably fixable.

“There’s nothing seized on it. Everything still turns and I thought that would be a good fixable project,” he said.

Ylioja isn’t a farmer and has no experience with fixing combines, but he does auto body repairs on cars and thought it would be a good challenge to get the vehicle running. He said it has likely been idle for the last six decades.

“I thought, why not? The worst case, if I pulled it out and it wasn’t salvageable, you just give it as scrap metal to someone,” he said

Ylioja said the Rock Pointe area farmer whose land the combine was on wasn’t aware of it even being there, but gave Ylioja permission to pull it out and give the restoration a go.

“When I pulled it out, I definitely had my doubts,” he said. “After I pulled it out, I thought I don’t even know if this is fixable.”

That was two years ago.

After sourcing an engine from a family member, Ylioja went about the restoration in earnest.

“For motivation, I just thought it would be really cool to resurrect and get it going again. It’s not every day you come across something like that or see one run,” he said.

Once the engine was running in the Cockshutt, Ylioja said he found the belts and schematics for the combine online.

Several other parts required fixing or replacing, which took about 200 hours to complete.

“I had no experience. The only thing that I had done was me and my buddy had pulled an old horse-drawn sickle mower out of some trees and got that going,” he said. “That probably actually started my interest in fixing old equipment.”

Both that and the Cockshutt project were learn as you go experiences, said Ylioja.

He said as he works doing auto body repair to regular vehicles all day, he wanted to change things for a hobby.

“A combine of that year and that style running is probably something you’ve never seen and I thought it would be neat to get one going and it would be a good challenge to see if I could get it going,” he said. ”

Ylioja said he has taken the combine out on test runs but is hoping to have it harvest a small field he hopes to plant.

“I really wasn’t planning on farming full time, but maybe in the future if I bought a place with land I’d just use that for a little hobby farm,” said Ylioja.

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