Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Collecting By The Seat Of Your Pants!

Collecting old antique farm equipment and related stuff can really be fun but whoever thought of just collecting the seats from some of this old stuff? Many collectors do however and it can be very interesting just to know the history behind these old cast iron implement seats.

One of the most interesting things that I found out about cast iron implement seats is that prior to the Civil War in the United States, farm implements were all walk behind, horse-drawn pieces of equipment. After the war was over, the munitions factories that were in place at that time were converted over into making seats for these horse-drawn implements. Some said that this was one of the most improved things that had ever happened in agriculture up to that time.

After this innovation occured, implements could be made so that the farmer could then have his feet free to operate levers at the same time he was driving the team of horses. This fact alone allowed equipment manufactures to add features incorporating these new levers. Extra tasks could be performed with all the new functionality in the machines.

The seat patterns, in the beginning, were made from wood and then cast into iron. There were many designs among the seats, some being very plain in appearance and others very ornate including lettering, etc. Almost all had some sort of holes in them whether it be simple round holes or gaps between any lettering that might have been present. This was done to allow water to drain through the seat thereby preserving the life of the seat against rusting while sitting idle.

There are well over 2000 different styles and types of cast iron seats known to have been made and collectors have preserved a tremendous amount of these seats from being destroyed. Some collect them and simply leave them as found and others will clean them up, paint them and display them. But, any way you look at it, this is a favorite attraction at some of the antique tractor shows that I have attended and will probably not disappear anytime soon.

It's kind of a neat thing.....preserving some of the history of farming and the pieces of equipment that have come and gone during the process.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Are Old Pedal Tractors "Real" Antique Tractors?

Well..........what do you think? If they're old (antiques) and they're tractors, why wouldn't they be? I think they are and I won't exclude them from the Fastrac Website. My brother-in-law has a tremendous collection of these old pedal tractors similar to the one shown in this photo. He has collected them for years. He still owns and operates a small farm in central Indiana where he uses mostly Allis Chalmers tractors and equipment, but since he has gotten older and has less energy than he used to, he got interested in the "Little Guys" so to speak.

It might surprise you how much some of these little old tractors are worth. Besides, if you are a person who is interested in the Antique Tractor hobby and didn't have the money to spare for the bigger tractors or you don't have the space to work on the larger ones, this might just be your connection to the hobby.

I'll bet more than a few of you have see these little old "play" tractors somewhere in your past as you were growing up. In fact, you can still see them pop up in garage and rummage sales occasionally. I have seen several of them being used as decorations in some of the Cracker Barrel Restaurants around the county. The last time I "Googled Up" the key words "Antique Pedal Tractor", the results were 64,100 pages with those words in the content. A lot of those results were for some of these units for sale on E-Bay.

Almost every Tractor Show or event that I see advertised will elude to a kiddie's pedal tractor pull event at the show. It's more than's sometimes crazy! Lots of these old pedal tractors are being restored to original condition today and I think they have a real place in our hobby. My thinkin' is.......why not? If it's old and has a tractor attached to its name, it should get some ink!

To each his own is my motto. Whatever happens that gets our hobby more attention, the more it will serve us all. Think about it!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hey....just getting a little concerned here!

Most of us are dealing with old antique tractors as a hobby and are hoping to just get a little fun out of the deal. But, knowing that the price of fuel is so high and looking like its going to continue to go up, can you imagine what's in store for the farmers of today? Pretty scary if you ask me.

That is not to say that the farmers are going to be the only ones that are going to have trouble surviving....we all will share additional costs across the board , too! But, if I can't go to work tomorrow in the plastics industry that I work in, I doubt whether that is going to effect too many people down the road. But with the farmers getting crops ruined or fields becoming inoperable because of flooding and bearing the rising fuel costs, etc, these problems will all translate to higher food costs at the market because of a tighter supply of everything coming off the farms......... Not to mention the increased costs of getting what products that do get harvested sent to the markets.

Our hobby isn't going to suffer too much because most of us are going to continue going to the shows and demonstratiing our old iron, etc. But, if things gets too tight on the fuel situation, we'll just stay closer to home and not fire up the 'ol girl so often. Right? Farmer's can't do that....they have to fire up the equipment or nothing else happens.

How in the world did we get into this mess? Have we been too complacent or content with the way things are? Could we have done something different? Who knows. I'm not trying to say anything in particular but it does bother me how the modern day farmer is going to survive.

I have heard comments lately about folks thinking of putting out a small garden. I have heard this from people who have never farmed or grown anything ever before in their lives. Hearing comments like that lets me know that people are truly getting concerned over the rising costs as well. I hope they succeed!

Maybe it'll get worse before it gets better. Maybe not. The only thing I know for sure, I'm not nearly so worried about our little old hobby as I am our little old country!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Good Old Tractor Hunting Mystery Solved

Last week I received an e-mail from a seemingly fairly desperate fellow named Pat through the Fastrac Web Site asking for help in locating his grandpa's Farmall F-20 tractor. He asked me if I could help him find his father's F-20 that his grandfather bought new in 1939 (he thought).

In the e-mail, he goes on to say that the tractor was sold by his dad to Jimmy Belach of Walker, Iowa in the mid 80's and then at a later date, the tractor was sold to a Vince Gaffney of Fairfax, Iowa around 1993 or so. Pat said that he had no phone number or any other information on Mr. Gaffney but that he was extremely interested in locating the tractor which had become very important to him as of late.

I responded to him that I would make a post to try and get the word out to Fastrac's viewers and that we might just get lucky enough to get a response from someone.

Before I could get the post made that I promised Pat, he e-mailed me back to say that his family had farmed in Garrison, Iowa where his grandpa had purchased the F-20 and that his dad & grandpa had farmed the land there until they had a disagreement about expanding the farm operation. At that time (around 1965) the farm property was sold because of the disagreement and the tractor was given to a friend of the Belach family (Mr. Belack, the friend, died in 1990).

While all of that was happening, Pat found himself working in both Colorado and Kentucky but had that old tractor on his mind by entertaining the idea of locating the tractor and restoring it to its original condition. Pat said that he started looking for the old tractor about two years ago and was finally able to track down the Belach family. After he contacted me for help in locating the tractor and, as I said previously, before I could respond to him......he e-mailed me over the weekend to say that Mr Belach's widow called him last week. This was after about 18 months since he had contacted her and she told him that she had found the tractor and got the Gaffney fellow's location and number for him.

He said that when he went to see the tractor that it had the original rubber with a "closed" steering box and a "from the factory" hydraulic kit along with a live PTO. I personally didn't really get to help Pat find this tractor but was really pleased that he decided to share the news with me. I e-mailed Pat again to ask him if he was going to go get the tractor then and he responded by saying "Yep.... That's the plan!"

It just goes to show that if you want something bad enough and you put some action to it, sometimes you'll get what you want. I enjoyed the story! Thanks Pat, Good luck with the restore!