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Students work on donated John Deere tractor

COVINGTON - The Georgia Two-Cylinder Club members wants younger Georgians to follow in their footsteps.

To help students get involved in the club, it chose to donate an old John Deere tractor to a Georgia school.

More than a dozen northeast Georgia schools entered the competition, and Newton High School was chosen to receive the 1955 John Deere tractor.

"We just put the names in a hat and drew it out," said Dale Wiley, a Covington resident and president of the northeast Georgia-based club, which restores vintage tractors and machinery and enters them in tractor shows.

The club agreed to donate the tractor and provide all parts and assistance, as needed.

Right now, students seem to be handling most of the work just fine themselves.

During class time, agriculture teacher Ryan Talton's agricultural mechanics class of 28

students goes to the school's barn to clean and rebuild parts.

"The goal is to make it look brand new," Talton said.

He said the students enjoy doing the hands-on work.

"We take things I teach in the classroom and use it here, like I'll talk about how a carburetor works, and we'll go rebuild it," Talton said. "When you have the hands-on experience, you have a better understanding on things like this."

The students have several projects to get the tractor looking like new - degreasing and cleaning parts, welding, blasting, painting, remodeling and repairing such parts as the motor, carburetor, brakes, hydraulics and the fuel system.

"You can learn a lot of stuff in the class, but when you learn hands-on stuff, it teaches you more," said James Ray, a 12th-grade student. "That's the best part of the class."

Talton said this is the first time any of his classes has done anything as elaborate as this.

"We've done smaller projects, but nothing like this," he said. "We're always open to opportunities like this because the cool part about this is that they will get to do things that they'll use if they are going into mechanics."

Talton plans to have his classes finish the tractor work by October, so they can enter it into a national fair in Perry.

Wiley said students will get to keep any money they win from any competitions.

"Whenever they get done with (the tractor), whenever that is, they will give it back to us, and we will raffle it off to the public," he said. "Hopefully, the money we get from the raffle can buy another (tractor) that we can donate to another school."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.