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Stovebolt Fever
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17 March 2014

  Owned by
Austin Heiderscheid
"Vintage Farmer"
Bolter # 37631


1948 Federal 25M

(Not a Stovebolt but truly a cool old truck and a fascinating tale.)


More pictures of my old truck

Join the discussion about this truck in the DITY forum


From Austin :

Alright, never been one for telling my own story but here goes. While most of my young friends (I am 17) are hunkered down in their basements playing Xbox and Playstation, I am looking for projects that I may, or may not, be able to financially support.

For a long time, I have drooled over the old Stovebolts and Ford 2 ton trucks. Not quite sure why. Most kids stare at fast Porshes and dream.

This is the story of how I got my most recent (I surely do intend to get an actual Big Bolt one day) acquisition.

About a month ago, I threw up an ad on Craigslist wanting to trade my 1941 Farmall H for a Big Bolt. I said it didn't need to run or drive, just needed to be decently complete. My intentions for a Big Bolt were to yank the original 235 or some such engine out and shoe-horn in a Cummins with a 5 speed.

Suffice to say, that is not what happened.

A few days go by as I stare at my email waiting for someone to contact me. While sitting in class, my smart (more like dumb) phone goes off with an electronic ping indicating I had gotten an email. After I was well out of the teacher's eyesight, I opened my email and found something interesting.


We found some more information and neat old pictures about Federal Trucks on Hank's website .

There is even a Federal Truck Registry : "Between 1910 and 1959, over 160,000 Federals were assembled. As of February 29, 2004, 183 of the surviving Federal trucks have been located, ranging from the smallest pickups up to the largest WWII tank haulers and crash wreckers. All but a few of these trucks are in the U.S., thus a large part of the Federal output made for export remains unknown."

A guy had sent me a text asking if I would be interested in a 1948 Federal. I thought "Gee, I have never heard of a Federal. Wonder what it looks like?" So, I opened up Google and typed in the truck. It came up with about six different pictures. I'm sure you guys know that when Google images only reports six pictures back on something, it is decently rare.

My curiosity piqued, I decided to humor the guy and asked for pictures. At this time, I actually had him on the phone and he said he would look for his Photobucket account and send the links to me.

After only an hour of waiting, another ping goes off. I check and this is what I see: The first sighting.

From that point on, I was pretty much set on getting it. It was in extremely good shape with, supposedly, about 5k on it. Now I might not believe that as the speedo cable had been disconnected, but oh well.

Anyway, from all the pictures he showed me, it was as complete as complete could get, along with all the paperwork that goes with it.

The Next Generation

I live on a little five acre plot of land about a mile off of Highway 65. It's not much like a farm but still a good enough chunk of land for me to have fun on. I have lived there the majority of my life with my Father, who is also somewhat of a gearhead. He hasn't been as active a wrencher of late with working most of the time. So my Grandpa kinda look over teaching me about working on old stuff.

I suppose I owe much of my skills to my Grandfather. He taught me most of what I know and just about everything else I learned through trial and error. When I was about 10, my Grandfather gave me a little Craftsman garden tractor (well, to me, it was rather large!). It wasn't much but it did get me rolling in my Garden Tractor hobby.

At the time, my Grandfather lived on somewhat of a hobby farm. While he was living there, he never dug a plow into the ground, just kinda covered everything in a layer of -- "stuff" -- for lack of a better word. Now my Uncle owns the Hobby Farm and basically scrapped everything that was there. There was an old 1960 C60 International Harvester grain truck and other assorted pieces of rotting equipment. Wish I was old enough at the time to save all of it.

When my Uncle bought the place and Grandpa moved into town, (he hates it by the way), my Uncle thought, "Gee, I'm gonna start farming." He bought a group of three tractors: a Farmall M, which actually ran, and two Farmall Hs that both had locked up engines.

The better of the two Hs was the one I commandeered from my Uncle. It sat for a few years before I got my Dad to haul it home and I finally got to work on it. It was in decent shape. The sheet metal was straight and it was complete for the most part.

In my free time, I tore the head off of it and dumped a 50 / 50 mixture of acetone and Stabilt into the cylinders. Within a few hours, the engine was loose and turning. Again it sat because I didn't have the capital to get it rolling under its own power. Then along comes my buddy who wanted me to go tractor pulling with him and his IH 1466. Needless to say, I felt terrible saying that I couldn't due to the fact that the tractor needed lots of money. He just laughed and said he would help me, which included giving up some of his hard earned money to buy some much needed parts.

Fast forward about a year. I got a job, paid some debts, and now had a little bit of money. Remember that M my Uncle bought? Yeah, I bought it from him for $600 and it's now sitting at my house. It has earned most of its keep at some tractor shows and what not but generally it just sits behind the fence.

I ended up trading the H, the one I worked so hard to get running, for the Federal. I felt that it was worth it. This truck was something I could actually use and put to work on the road where as the H didn't really have a purpose.

As for why I have always wanted a Big Bolt ... I suppose I owe that to my Grandfather as well. I have always liked big trucks. My Dad has a GMC 6500 from the 70s that he pieced together from random parts to build a dump truck for our house addition. But what really put the nail in to coffin was that my Grandpa's boss has an Advanced design 1.5 or 2-ton sitting in the pasture. It needs some TLC but I worked with my Grandpa on it a bit and got it running. Needs some freeze plugs though so it still sits in the field. Maybe one day I will call it mine as well.


The previous owner then goes on to tell me the story about how he got it. He said it had been owned by two people besides himself -- other then the original owner, a Fire Department in North Dakota, of course. He said that the first owner had only driven it in parades and such in the 70s before being sold to another guy that had WAY to much stuff.

It sat from then to about the early 90s when the fella died. At that point, the guy I know bought it. He brought it home and also let it sit as he also had too many projects.

Then in 1997, the Grand Forks flood devastated the area and submerged the truck. The guy said it was one of the saddest sights he has seen, before or since.

He said at that point, he had pretty much lost interest, figuring it was near unrestorable. He did take the time to drain all the fluids out of the engine, tranny and rear end to evacuate all the water and river contaminants from the truck.

About a week after the first phone call, me and my Grandfather took the hour and a half trip to the guy's house to take a look-see at it. Just looking at it and being able to physically touch it, cemented my decision in my mind: it was going to be mine.

The PO then showed us all the paperwork that went with the truck, including the original manual and two titles ... yes two! He told us the story about those, as well, but I figure it would be too boring and drawn out. The last words we said to each other that day were, "We will wait for a nice day to do the deal."

Three days later, he emails me pictures with the truck loaded and says he was thinking the next Sunday was as good a day as any.

He brought the old truck over, towed behind a 70s Ford 7000 powered by a cat 3801. I laughed seeing it come down the road trailed by a massive cloud of smoke.

After the tractor took its place on the trailer, he handed me the paperwork and four buckets of parts, along with a box of brake booster parts. It was a basket-case but I felt I was up to the challenge.

Once he left, me and my Dad pulled the truck back behind the house. Three days later, me and my Grandfather tinkered with it enough and actually got it started. Without a working fuel system, we couldn't really keep it running for long. For how long we did have it running (here's a video), I was able to check the transmission and rear end. They both worked but were going to need new fluids as both were dry, at least as far as I knew.

That leads us up to about where we are now other then the fact I was able to rig up the fuel pump and get it working.

I know some may be saying, "It's not a Stovebolt; it doesn't belong here" and I agree. But out of all the places I have found on the web, this forum seems to be the most active of all of them and holds way more collective knowledge and I figured some of you fellas could tell me what I got and how to go about fixing what is wrong (the list is quiet long...).

I'll post our progress on the truck in the DITY thread and as I get new photos, I'll add them to the Photobucket album.

I thank everyone for hosting such an awesome site. See ya'll out on the forums!

Vintage Farmer


Well, we are quite flattered, humbled, honored and amazed ... and probably some more stuff. It's cool to have more young blood into old iron and we certainly find you a rare breed of encouragement as we see that the old trucks will continue to live on with yet another generation. We'll be there for you ... and maybe we'll see YOU and Dad / Granddad at the Stovebolt Reunion in Kansas City in September! ~ Editor



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