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.

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Spell Check

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.


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