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Build a winning pulling tractor with a modest budget

Exhibitors and demonstrations will close their booths and shut down machinery at 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, but the daily events will be far from over.

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Exhibitors and demonstrations will close their booths and shut down machinery at 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, but the daily events will be far from over.

On Tuesday, starting at 5 p.m. the modified tractor pull begins with stock, multi-engine, pro-stock and open classes.

"I expect 18-20 tractors that will hook twice," said Tim Walter, vice president of Central Minnesota Pullers, who is coordinating the modified pull.

Walter has been building and running pulling tractors for over 20 years and thoroughly enjoys his hobby. He explains that a fellow puller says it's a wonderful sport with an evil virus.

"Once it's in your blood, it's not easy to quit," Walter said.

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Getting into tractor pulling is not as expensive as some people may think. To start out, $5,000 is enough to get someone a tractor to run, Walter said.

Getting involved

This year Walter will run two tractors, one with twin motors and another with triple motors. He purchased his tractor with three engines for $2,500 in May and only added a roll cage and performed a tune-up to ready it for pulling.

Walter chuckles because his frugal habits and ability to win with Chevy small blocks frustrates other drivers. Last year Walter was club point champion in the heavy class and may have a possible repeat win this year. His secret to low-budget tractor building is to scrounge up parts and visit cheap parts sites.

But, Walter isn't the only person finding "deals."

"I know one guy that started for $4,000 and another guy who bought an open-class tractor for $6,000," Walter said. "You have to look around and watch around."

"Some guys spend $12,000 just in the motor," Walter said.

In the pro-stock class, it isn't unheard of to spend upwards of $60,000. Though the activity can gobble up plenty of cash, the winning pull doesn't always come from the most expensive machine. Walter says he's been on the winning and losing end when it comes to anticipating the track.

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He emphasizes getting a good read on the track by watching earlier runs and getting a feel for the "bite", or compaction of the track during the first run.

The driver who runs first will have the option to keep the run or go again at the end, but it must be decided before the other runs take place.

"If the guy has the option (to run at the end), it's a real tough decision," Walter said.

Antique Tractor Pull

Filling the grandstand on Wednesday night at 5 p.m. are tractor pulling enthusiasts of a different sort.

"It's all together a different ball game. The (modified tractors) operate on speed and we focus on power," said Robert Softing of Hawley, Minn., and organizer of the antique tractor pull.

Fifty to 60 tractors will hook in either the improved or stock classes for the antique tractor pull said Softing. He delights in restoring and running antique pulling tractors because it's fun and it provides an opportunity to meet new people.

Represented at the pull will be a variety of models from 1939 to 1965 and numerous makes, such as John Deere, Farmall, Massey Harris and Allis Chamlers.

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Most of the tractors are restored to original specifications, Softing said. But some tractors may have bigger tires or other slight modifications.

Softing, a member of the Old Time Tractor Puller Association, will present winners with a trophy and payback for four places.

He noted that many people are interested in the unique tractors, not just the success of a run.

"If we did it for the money, we'd be done right away," Softing chuckled.

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