Monday, June 23, 2008

Old Iron Lawn Ornaments

One thing I have found across the years from placing myself in and around old tractors and equipment, is that it makes you completely aware of things around you as you travel. For instance, if you are on your way to play golf at a rural golf course, are you looking at the sides of the roads for turf that will be similar to what you will face on the course once you arrive? Of course not. Your subconscious mind is forcing you to see if there are any old cast iron implement seats tossed in the side ditch, or rusting tractor carcasses in the fence rows.

I find myself constantly scouring the lateral sights along the road while I'm driving and very specifically for these types of "finds." (not the golf course stuff.... the old tractor stuff). I must admit though, that I rarely stop at most of the discoveries. Most of them I have seen before. Some of them will make you stop though. I found one of these spots today that I thought that I would share with you. It just happens to be and old International F20 Tractor that is being used as a beauty spot decoration at a local landscape nursery.

If old antique tractors or implements are not being restored or being taken to scrap iron dealers, you can bet that a lot of this old stuff is being used as landscape decorations. You've probably all seen the old horse drawn sickle bar mower or two row corn planter with all new paint adorning the front yard of more than one country farm house. I know I have!

One thing is for sure, I am more in favor of the lawn ornament usage than I am of the scrap iron pile because once the piece is gone to the scrap iron pile, it's gone forever! I thought this was a pretty cool use of and old tractor in a setting where it will always be on the job.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Great Old Cat!

I posted earlier about the relationships that are built when you get involved within the hobby of antique tractor collecting or restoring. One of my favorite buddies that I had acquired a fairly close relationship with a few years back, (Maris Hall) got me very interested in an old caterpillar 15 tractor that he has. I had never driven a Caterpillar tractor of any kind before meeting him but because of the friendship that grew out of that meeting, I finally got the chance.

Maris brought his 1929 Cat 15 to the Matthews (Indiana) Covered Bridge Festival about 6 years ago and I was able to snap some photographs of that old tractor. You can view them and some of the history behind his acquiring of the old tractor and what he had to do to get it up and running on the regular Fastrac web site. This story is quite interesting to read if you like old cats.

Maris asked me that day during the festival if I would like to "take the old girl" for a spin and I, not being one to turn down too many chances at doing that kind of stuff, naturally obliged him. That "spin" " turned out to be most of the rest of that afternoon. The caterpillar was a very different experience for me in that I had never driven any old tractor (and that has been quite a few) that had no steering wheel. It was very cool the way you could make that old machine turn on a dime so to speak!

Strike up conversations with folks when you go to these types of events..... you never know what kinds of friendships can be made and what can happen within the resulting relationships.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Any Old Iron Will Do - Or Will It?

For some collectors, "any old iron will do" is a statement that would be the only statement to make. To these people, If you find anything related to the bygone days of farming, its made out of iron and you can haul it home, its worth collecting. I don't know of a ton of people that would just haul any old piece of farming equipment or apparatus home automatically. I can tell you though, that I would bet that almost anyone who is an old iron collector would at least take a serious look at the piece.

This is part of the fun of collecting! Finding a piece of old iron whether it be a broken down F20 Farmall in a wood-lined fence row with trees growing up through its frame rails or an old cast iron water pump that got its supply from an old windmill aeromotor, the discovery is what it's all about. Do you think for a moment that a true collector of old iron wouldn't at least take a look?

It never ceases to amaze me what shows up at the swap meets and tractor shows. I have never been to one yet that I didn't see something that I could not identify, and upon asking the owner what it was, to be not confronted with a smile or smirk as the identification was made for me.

Most of what you see at these events of course, centers around the old tractors and that is totally another story. Most collectors do eventually zero in on a paticular tractor brand to collect if tractors are the only things being collected........ note I said most! However, I know several (and you probably do too) that don't even care what the brand is, they just know its old, its a tractor and it needs a home so therefore they collect them.

So what am I saying? Only that if everyone collected the same stuff, the same brand, the same age and lined them all up in a row, this hobby wouldn't even exist! The diversity is what makes it all tick and is the exact reason that I love it so much. As long as I can still get to the shows and swap meets, that probably won't change very soon.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Have Fun Working Your Old Tractor!

One of the times that I had the most fun fooling around with old tractors was when my brother Gary and I began restoring an old 1941 hand crank, styled John Deere A. We had driven the old A from my house to his which ended up being about 6 miles (the way we went about it). We both live on the outskirts of the city and had to take some lesser driven streets as well as some county roads to get from my house to his on the tractor.

Once arriving at Gary's house though, that's when the fun began. He had an old stand mounted buzz saw that was belt driven and a pile of logs that needed to be sawed into shorter lengths. You know what happened next..... but only after about an hour getting the belt lined up properly to the belt pulley on that old "A".

That was the first time I ever experienced cutting wood on a buzz saw and just happens to be, as I said before, the most fun time I ever spend "Tractoring". It was also one of the more potentially dangerous times playing with old tractors. I had heard many stories of severe belt burns, wood kicking out from the saw table, pinched or cut fingers, etc. But that particular time, we lucked out...... or maybe it was just that we were more aware of the dangers and watched more closely than we might have done if we had many times under our belts.

Working an old tractor is truly one of the pleasures of collecting and restoring them. If simply looking at them was all there was to the hobby, I'm not too sure I would have remained as active as I have been up to this point. Anyway, having fun is what it is all about, so have fun working your old tractor and equipment!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What Sparks The Interest In Old Antique Tractors?

One of the fastest growing hobbies in the nation in the last few years is collecting and/or restoring old tractors. Why is that? In the spring, summer, fall and even winter you can find all kinds of events associated with this hobby.

What sparks the interest in old antique tractors? I don't really know. I only know that I get e-mails all the time from the Fastrac web site about new entrants to the hobby. Got one last week from Robert Johnson. Look at this picture of Robert on his old DC Case. Does he look old enough to know what that old Case was capable of doing when it was new? I doubt it, but there he is sitting on the seat and what is that on his face? Is that a smile? Click on the image to get a larger picture of that smile!

I don't know for sure but I think that it could very well be the serenity you get from being able to do just what Robert seems to be doing....... riding on his old Case in a tree-lined pasture with none of the World's pressures on him at that exact moment.

There is too much of that Worldly pressure and stress on most of us today. Back in the day, farming was hard work (still is today) but there was a lot less hustle bustle than there is today. I think folks are just looking for that pastime where one can just relax and enjoy something that gets them and their minds away from all the stress.

Why not spend that time "messing around" with old tractors? If you ever try it, you just might get hooked! I did and it looks like Robert did, too.