A tractor habit

barnIt’s tough to justify some habits. One aspect of my personality which could be diagnosed as a habit would be my love of old tractors. I am not alone and would like to talk about my habit this week.


First off, I want to be honest. I don’t really like working on old tractors. I like fuel injection and electronic ignition; the aspect of old tractors which I enjoy is style. Any tractor has style. A well-designed tractor enjoys style which is timeless. If I am going to be in the shop then I would prefer building something out of wood. My feeling for old tractors probably begins and ends at my eyeballs because I don’t like to work on them and have only found a few that I truly enjoy driving. We all get older every day and seeing a tractor from my youth in the same condition as it currently displays in my memory, brings me back to youth. I would never trade my 49 year-old brain for the model I carried in my youth but I would trade bodies at the drop of a hat.

Here is my tractor history; (2) Farmall M’s, a 930 Case, an International Harvester 1256, (3) Belarus tractors (actually two but I purchased the same one twice,) a Farmall 460 and a little Massey Ferguson. Both Farmall M’s, the 930 Case, the 460 Farmall and 1256 International could be seen as collectible however none of them were particularly precious. A few old tractors are collectible in any shape however most tractors have to be in good or great shape to demand high money.

One of my Farmall M’s belonged to my dad so that was special. I never did much with the M other than to switch it over to a 12 volt starter. I moved it from shed to shed for about two years and really became tired of maintaining the M. Anytime you collect something, you find out it takes time and space. These are both precious commodities and, although I hated to do it, I sold that old M to a young man from Fertile about eight years ago. He was nice; I hope he still has the tractor.

The older tractors from before the sixties and seventies seem to have stagnated a bit. Real nice older models still bring exceptional money but there doesn’t seem to be to be as high a demand for parts. Poorer condition tractors, even if they run, don’t seem to get the same prices they once garnered. The latest collection trend is the muscle tractor.

“Muscle tractors” were so named as the period in which these tractors were produced is similar to the period in which “muscle cars” were produced. It was a time before OPEC shut oil the oil spigot and so the tractors were heavy with big engines. There was technology to increase traction in these times however plain old weight still played a big part. These were big luxurious tractors such as the John Deere 6030, the International Harvester 1456 or the Allis Chalmers 220. This is only a tiny sample list.

I don’t own a tractor right now however I would hate to think that I will never own another. I think the next tractor I purchase will have to be field-ready and parade-optional. I believe I will approach the purchase in the same systematic way in which I purchase a vehicle. Perhaps I can even enlist my brother Darrel (or Dave?)to help inspect any potential muscle tractor prior to purchase. It is a prospect that is exciting even to consider. I have spent most of the last few years staring at a 1/8 scale International Harvester 706 toy tractor when I visit the hardware Hank store in  town. Maybe it’s time to jump into the sand box again.

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