Phipps: Antique Tractors in Original vs. Restored Condition

December 11, 2017 03:33 PM

The following content is commentary and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Each week on U.S. Farm Report, viewers respond how much they like the Tractor Tales segment and hearing the stories behind the classic tractors.

That segment has generated a question for John Phipps to answer in his weekly Customer Support segment on the show.

Watch Customer Support every weekend on U.S. Farm Report.

Back to news



Spell Check

Lincoln, NE
1/24/2018 08:59 PM

  Growing up on a York County Nebraska farm was the foundation of my future career. Dad lived a GOOD LIFE as he always said but experienced economic, social and financial issues. He lived to be 93 years old. His life experiences as a youth during what he called THE DIRTY THIRTIES seemed so hard to comprehend. He didn't attend high school to work for grandpa and neighbors doing agricultural intense laboring jobs. Hand harvesting corn, scooping corn for pennies per bushel, gathering corn cobs from the pig pen to burn as fuel for the wood stove in the house. Dad wrote his life's experiences for 4 children, 9 grandkids and 13 great grand children. Going to neighboring towns for groceries, watching in the park silent movies on screens using bed sheets. He and his older brother rode horses three fours of a mile to country school and turning them into the enclosed fenced school-yard. With limited rainfall, he would drive the milk cows that grazed the roadside ditches for the day and bring them in to milk by hand. The milk was separated with the separator for the cream sold in town. The milk was feed to the swine. His first tractor was a JOHN DEERE B and purchased F20 Farmall from his uncle. One unusual planting practice was using the trip cable that would plant the corn seed. This required walking to both ends moving the cable for planting straight rows. As farming practices improved and profits from the grain then enabled dad to buy a ford truck with a 14 foot grain box (no hoist to unload grain) He hauled fat cattle to Omaha Stockyards (100 miles away) selling them there and on the travel home purchased a brand new Super M FARMALL TRACTOR. That tractor is still on the farm where mother still lives. I remember harvesting irrigated corn with a mounted two corn picker 2MH on that tractor. Dad purchased that picker for a few hundred dollars from a neighbor when neighbor bought a self-propelled 55 John Deer combine. We ground ear corn for the fat cattle.

Hutchinson, MN
12/12/2017 09:19 AM

  Just a tangential note. My education & my training is as an historian. There is one other unappreciated unnoted quality of those unrestored tractors (or any old long used piece of equipment). They are documents of history. Purchased new, with or without the bells and whistles from the manufacturer, they were a vital tool. To improve, prolong, or adapt modification were made. Each of those changes documents a trend an event in the history of US ag - something that is inadequately studied at this time. I am always aware of that this is something ignored by most folks, but of which I am always mindful. I was turned on to the profession by the accessory belt for an early tractor/traction machine back in 1972 at the age of 13. I found it in a farmer for whom I babysat during harvest when I was scrounging for stuff to use in a mock archeological dig. A 20-some foot loop of heavy leather in still excellent condition that no one could tell me for what it was used. (No one was really collecting the old machinery back then. Then again, machinery that was new then is antique now.) It bothered me that I couldn't ID that leather belt - it was so big how could anyone forget its purpose! By the end of the 70s the interest in the old machines was coming along, and just about the time I graduated college with my brand new BA in History, I saw my first steam traction engine operating a saw mill. The first words I uttered on seeing that display at the county fair - THE BELT! The lovely old gentlemen who had put that engine back into working order were happy to tell a curious young woman about the uses of the belt and the equipment that could be operated by it using the power of the traction engine - also a bit bewildered, but happy to satisfy my curiosity. This is all by way of making a request. If you restore, take pictures of what you start with and what you do. Future hisotorians will thank you. Also, save your data.

Hutchinson, MN
12/12/2017 09:28 AM

  Yes, save your data! Day to day practices of ag are among the most poorly documented in the historic record. And, that is a tragedy. With ag we can learn much about the economic, scientific, political, and social history of a time and place. Because ag touches everyone's life directly or indirectly, it past should be better known. I ended up specializing in medieval history, and the first lesson I was taught was that the growth of cities during the Middle Ages and that the lead to the emergence of what we now call the middle class was put in motion by changes in ag that lead to better yields and fewer workers needed to produce enough food to feed the population. Farmers don't just feed the world in the here & now, they are the engine that drives history far more that politicians and armies. Document your work, so that fututre historians can make sure you recieve the credit you are due.


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer