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The Tractor Lad


A strange past time ......... to some

A typical country show line up of Vintage Tractors

Restoring vintage tractors has become a major pastime for many people; sometimes they see it as a basis to teach themselves the basics of these machines from yesteryear, this can drive a few individuals to attempt something they have never dreamt of, often finding skills they never knew they had. For some bonding with a son or a daughter is the allure of acquiring such a project, others may be retired farmers which had used a similar model when they were new and some where along there life had cast it aside when “the new model” came along.

The last ten/fifteen years or so has seen a big shift in what people see as a rusty clapped out tractor which is just fit for the scrap heap; instead, the potential shines through of returning such a machine to its former glory, in some cases even better. A chance exists in a restorers mind to learn everything there is to know about that certain tractor, even down to doing some detective work on the history, where it was first sold, what work it did and by whom, all this adds character to the tractor. Not only is the lure of this very satisfying hobby purely to get stuck into some key mechanical work, it has become very much social event where families get together with a wide circle of other like minded people and chat to there hearts content on there pride of joy, swap stories on problems and generally help friends out.

Nearly every weekend in the summer months there is a country show somewhere in the British Isles, with Vintage Tractors being close at hand, attracting enthusiasts from far a field, they flock to show off there latest project. Some tractors turn up in pristine condition having under gone hours of restoration work by there beloved owners, not only time spent, but also lots of money have been lavished upon these treasured machines, the costs can easily mount up, for what has to be remembered is that these tractors have spend all of there lives on farms as work horses, panels get dented or just simply rot away, engines and components wear out so all these items have to be replaced with new ones.

Some tractors however still survive in there original state and still in reasonable condition, as if they have just been plucked out of service and they are good enough to be shown, doused in oil with the remnants of the original paint work and in some rare instances original tyres, this all adds another spin to tractor restoration and can create a heavy debate as to leave well alone or set to with the sander and the paint spray can. Many people view originality as being more beautiful than an immaculate machine that has been restored to the highest standard. An original tractor that still shows the scars of a hard working life is a true recollection of what that tractor would be like 40/50 years on.

Any machine which has stood the test of time like a lot of tractors do has to be worth a degree of appreciation. One way of looking at this is that vintage tractors have a two part history, one having a busy farm life earning there keep, and the other being bought back to life in what could only be best described as there retirement.

The next time you visit a show go and have wander around the many vintage tractors that gather and remember each individual machine has its own two stories to tell, the owners will let you in to its secrets, as they are immensely proud people.

© Ben Phillips