The white Big Bud models are reminiscent of the Big Bud that farm toy collector
By day, Vernon Eymann works as a mechanic on full-sized farm machinery. In his spare time, he's the master of a kingdom of tiny farm tractors and implements.
Toy tractors make up most of the 1,600 items in Vernon's collection, which is housed in a specially built museum behind his Kenmare, N.D., home.
He has been a farm machinery mechanic for 38 years, nine years with an International Harvester dealer, and since then as a mechanic for Earl Schwartz Co., a corporate grain farm near Kenmare, N.D.
In 1984, Vernon began collecting farm toys. 'When International Harvester started going under, I got to collecting farm toys,' he says. 'I knew there'd be no more (manufactured).' He stayed with IH toys for a while, then started buying other brands at toy machinery shows and from implement dealers.
In 1986, he built a 24- by 36-foot museum to house his collection. He calls it the V&R Toy Museum - the initials are his and his wife's, whose name is Rosina.
Vernon's museum has one wall of red tractors, another wall of John Deere green tractors and in other places, Massey Ferguson, Allis-Chalmers, Ford and Cockshutt models. An antique McCormick-Deering toy combine and some Big Bud all-wheel-drive toy tractors, made by a craftsman in Montana who uses sand molds, also are on display.
Some of Vernon's smaller, more valuable items are kept in a glass case: His models run from 1/8 to 1/64 scale, and most are 1/16.
A favorite toy, and the most expensive in the collection, is a John Deere model G 1/12-scale model tractor that has an engine that actually runs.
Today, Vernon collects only John Deere, Case/IH and four-wheel-drive tractors. At first, he bought only new pieces, but now he occasionally buys vintage items, too. Also, after buying a number of factory-made toys, Vernon started building his own. His first was a toy cultivator, 'and then a tractor to pull it with.'
A couple of years ago, Vernon underwent eye surgery and recovering from that has slowed his model building, but he says he plans to be back at it by this winter. He focuses on four-wheel-drive tractors these days, and a collection of his handmade Versatile tractors has a display shelf all its own.