Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why Restore Old Tractors?

There are countless reasons why people collect or restore old tractors. Some merely see this process as an investment opportunity, restored or unrestored. Since old iron is becoming scarcer with every passing year, investors see acquiring old tractors as an opportunity to cash in on this commodity.

Others involve themselves in collecting or restoration of old tractors and equipment simply to have something to do after retirement and to hold them close to their memories. Yet still others will claim that the only reason they are involved is that they simply enjoy tinkering with old stuff.

I think the real underlying reason for all of these people is the relationships that are developed during the process. Relationships such as a father and son who restores an old tractor together with no ensuing arguments when they continually argue about everything else! How about an old man showing a middle aged man a few old farmer tricks when it comes to the mechanics of restoration? What about the guy who finds an old hunk of iron along a fence row, offers to buy it, gets agreement and then is quizzed almost daily by the seller about the progress?

Relationships is why! Relationships are developed through the hobby of collecting or restoring old stuff! I have gotten to know many, many people in and around this hobby that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet, simply because I had questions and they had answers.

You can't set out for the day with the sole purpose of finding a person to have a relationship with. You might but you probably won't have much success. You would be better off however, to start out your day on another field trip to find the next tractor to restore and run into your next good relationship whether you recognize it or not. I have found that if you get around something that you like to do, you will suddenly get surrounded by those who like you...... Does this make any sense?


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Original or Beautified

It's hard to say what is the proper way to restore an old antique tractor. Some say that you need to keep everything all original down to and including the old original paint and decals........ so long as everything works and is as it was delivered from the factory.

Others will say "Spice it up some!" Repaint it, add chrome, make new mounting step plates on the hitch assembly or just a host of other stuff to make your tractor unique. I kind of belong to this latter approach... just so long as you don't take it too far!

On my regular antique tractor website I have a page showing an old 1934 Farmall F20 that my brother restored a few years back. It kind of belongs in the "Spice it up some" category. He added special hand made step plates inside the drawbar made out of a couple of pieces of old oak boards that he got from work and that formerly supported a piece of heavy equipment for shipment. I think it looks pretty good. Other than the step plates however, the tractor is all original but just renewed with paint, new tires, decals and all. Could this be a compromise restoration between the two approaches?

Any way you cut it, either way is better than no way at all. Too much of this old stuff is getting cut up for scrap............ especially these days when scrap metal is increasing in value. Let's keep both these styles going!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

What Farming Used To Be

50 years ago, most farming operations were more laid back than they are today. That's not to say things were easy by any means, only that there were certain things that were done in certain ways and farmers didn't "bust butt" so that they could get into the next 600 acre field. Life was generally peaceful on the farm in the 40's and 50's.

The antique tractors and implements of yesteryear was adequate for the typical farmer from this time period. Could you start up a new farming operation today with this type of equipment? Only if your beginning farming operation was on a scale with the size of the farms in those years (almost always less than 200 acres).

I have been reading the posts from a blog that I ran across the other day that has a literal ton of good wholesome reading about a family that has started up a new farming operation of the old time scale and way of doing it. If you never personally lived on or near a farm during that time frame you might want to visit this blog called "The Beginning Farmer". The blog has posts about everything from what types of equipment and tractors that was used to how things were planted, what problems arose and how they were addressed, etc.

I found myself captivated by this family's experiences and was surprised at some of the memories in my own life that were revived. Reading about his farming family and their experiences really has reminded me of what farming used to be like.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

First Tractor Experience

Not my first experience.....the grandson's. Well, sort of! Newer tractor, younger boy, lawn tractor category at that. Not exactly an antique tractor or old tractor story but to me, I had fun yesterday just watching a small boy playing the "Big Time" role.
My grandson was born prematurely with what is known as Noonan's syndrome and was only around 3 pounds when he was born. The Noonan's Syndrome was not diagnosed immediately but when it was, treatment suggestions began. In short, Noonan's Syndrome typically results in individuals with slow growth rates and without growth hormone injections, there is little chance that male patients would grow beyond 5 feet tall.
This was the case for my grandson. He was way underdeveloped for a long period of time until he was diagnosed and began the hormone injections. There are other traits that are typically present in Noonan's Syndrome patients but smallness in size is the predominant feature. If you want to learn more about Noonans, Syndrome, you can visit: The Noonan Syndrome Support Group, Inc.

At any rate, back to the tractor ride. My grandson had been begging me to let him drive the tractor for a couple or three years now but with the safety feaures built in to my John Deere lawn tractor, if you don't sit firm in the seat, the tractor will shut off. Up until this year, my grandson didn't have long enough legs to reach the pedals and still be able to sit firm enough in the seat to keep the tractor running. This year was different. With the hormone injections in the past, the results allowed him to grow tall enough that he could now reach the pedals this year......and he knew it!

So, yesterday he got to get in his first real tractor experience. He is a 14 year old with a body of a ten year old but with the heart of a lion. I have never been so proud of his perserverance. For him, that lawn tractor ride made his day and soon after the picture was taken, he was on his way to the next conquest.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Old Tractor Find

Well, I found something yesterday that is really challenging me.

I was returning back to the shop from picking up some tooling for the day job, and drove by an old rundown mobile home that I had driven by many, many times before. The driveway at this mobile home location had always had several huge rows of cordwood stacked up all the way from the unit out to the end of the driveway. I had never before paid much attention to anything else at that location.

But yesterday, when I drove by this place, I noticed that the rows of wood was nearly gone and I could see a very complete old tractor sitting between where the wood was formerly stacked and a small out building adjacent to the mobile home. What struck me the most was that I had never seen an old tractor quite like that one. It appeared to look a great deal like an old Theilman tractor but I know that it wasn't. It had a peculiar shaped grill on the front and I could not tell from a distance what brand of tractor that I was looking at.

Some would say...... Get a little closer and check it out, Dave! That's where the challenge comes in. There were several signs posted all over and around the out building such as: Beware of dog! No Trespassing! Keep out! My thought was, knowing that I always keep a camera in my truck, to get a picture and try to get a photo of this old machine. I suppose I could have gotten a shot from the road but what could it have possibly helped anyone from that distance?

I thought of getting out of the truck and knocking on the door to ask more about the old tractor and hopefully, get permission to take some photos but the vision of a mad 100 pound Rottweiler didn't do too much for me! Someday soon, I'll get up enough guts to knock on that door and if or when that happens, I'll get some photos of the tractor on a future post and see if any of you can help identify it. If I get lucky, it may be for sale!

I promise to keep you in the loop.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

How old do you need to be?

How old do you think you need to be to be considered an Antique Tractor nut?

I can remember when I was a little kid, I used to watch my dad drive tractors in the barnlots and fields and I couldn't wait 'til I "growed up!" When I was about 7 years old, we lived for a short time in a small central Indiana town by the name of Gaston. This little town had an International Harvester dealership and my brothers and I used to walk up there (it was only two blocks away) and watch them work on the tractors from across the street.

My dad worked as a hired hand on a neighboring farm that used all John Deere tractors, so we heard about them from dad all the time. We could tell the distinctive "Pop-putt-putt-putt-Pop" sound and what it stood for in a childhood heartbeat!

Anyway, one day we went back to the IH dealer up the street because we heard that familiar sound again. It must have been near the county fair time because when we got up to the dealership, they were just beginning to back someone's Johnny Popper up to the back end of an IH Super M.

That's when I officially saw my first tractor pull! Right there on the steet. Been a fan of tractor pulls and tractors in general ever since then. I guess that I was an antique tractor nut way back then except what I witnessed that day wasn't antiques, they were brand new tractors.

What I'm saying is that you don't have to be old to get tractors in your blood. Everywhere you look when you go to the shows, you'll see youngsters driving old tractors or old lawntractors around the grounds.

Point is, you can be an antique tractor nut right out of the chute!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Springtime Antique Tractor Shows

Spring time is a wonderful time to take in an antique tractor show around the country. These shows are taking place all over the country at this time of year and are a perfect opportunity to "shake off" the winter dust and boredom for collectors and restorers.

Most of these events will have swap meets running in conjunction with the shows. This usually works out real well for the restorers since they have had all winter (at least in the northern climates) to think about the next move on their projects. If you have ever attended one of these events and looked over the stuff that shows up in the swap meets, you can find anything from a sparkplug to whole units or anywhere between.

I remember attending one of these events a few years back in Jones, Michigan where I had no intention of buying anything while attending the show. As I walked down the isles of parts in the swap meet section, I noticed a pile of old iron farm wagon wheels. Having made several trips down those isles during the course of the day, it was like this pile of old wheels kept "jumping out" at me! I kept thinking to myself, "Carolyn (that's my wife) has been on my case to find something to use as a beauty spot in her rock garden". I thought, "that's it.....this just might fill the bill" so to speak. Needless to say, a vacated twenty dollar bill from my pocket found two of the smaller wheels from that pile in the back of my pickup truck!

You need to know that as it turned out, these two wheels do indeed look pretty nice in her rock garden, buried about a third of the overall height in the ground and her wisteria vines crawling all over the spokes.

There is a tremendous amount of things to look at during any of these shows that you would choose to attend and I have never seen two of them alike. I find something that I have never seen before at almost every one of them that I have attended and in the 15 years that I have been attending these shows, that is a lot of stuff!

You might never have had the opportunity to go to one of these shows......... Cripes! You may not even realize that they exist if you're not an antique tractor or farm equipment hobbyist, but I can tell you for sure that most folks would have to be hard pressed to be bored at one of them.

If the idea of finding one of these shows in your area in any way kind of sparks your interest, go to one of the search engines and type in "Spring Tractor Show" and see what you can find. You may be surprised what shows up in your area. If you are already a collector or restorer you probably already know what’s happening in your area, but if you're not you might want to find one and try it....... You just might like it!

Antique tractor collecting has become one of the fastest growing pastimes in recent years. It might not be your thing but if you do end up checking out one of these shows, don't be surprised if you end up getting hooked!


Thursday, May 8, 2008

A brand new Antique Tractor Blog

If you are into old farm equipment and antique tractor restoration, my new weblog about this hobby should be on your agenda down the road. The intention is to be proactive with a lot of the "happenings" in the Antique Tractor collecting world!

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The launch - First Post

I'm just an average guy who has had an extreme interest outside the regular working world with a couple of hobbies, some of which happens to be old farm equipment and antique tractors. I started an Antique tractor BBS way back in 1994 and tried to get it to have readership when folks had to call up on their dime to make posts and the like. Didn't work too well!

Along came the advancement of many things within the internet world and I converted most of what I was trying to do with the BBS into an Antique tractor website called "Fastrac" and launched it in October of 1996. Since that time the web site has gradually developed into a fairly large non-commercial web site catering to antique tractor hobbyists and collectors and supplying them with informational resources that supports the hobby. Fastrac has become one of the larger web sites of its type of which I am very proud.

Back to me....I grew up as a small boy on the farm where my dad was a "hired hand" working for the other guy. Having been exposed to a lot of the old ways that farmers used to plant, care for and harvest their crops, I naturally was found around the barn lot and in the fields watching big boys "do their thing" with that stuff. Memories of those times is was sparked my interest in some of this old equipment and when I became an adult, I found out that there was a seemingly large increase of interest in some of that old machinery.

By the time I started the antique tractor web site, my younger brother had already been involved for several years with restoring some of the old tractors that he and I both found ourselves around in our earlier years. I didn't have the place or the means to actively participate in restoring tractors and ultimately put all my efforts into the web site. That’s how I fed my desire to keep the past alive.

At any rate, besides writing articles into the web pages of the Fastrac web site, I feel that I have a lot more to say about the crazy old tractor thing! That's why I'm here. I want to write more about this hobby and more importantly, about the people I have met while doing it. That's why I'm here and I encourage you to make comments when you can and I promise you, this will all get very interesting!