Museum Formed Around 1930s John Deere Tractor
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Instead, they look in nooks and crannies of a given piece of equipment to find traces of original pigment. Their 1935 tractor binder is a classic example. “It had been painted Oliver green,” Marvin recalls. “Where twine had wrapped around a bearing, it had caught fire and burned most of the binder. Someone then painted it. However, when we looked under bolt-heads and under washers we could find what had originally been painted red or green.”
On that piece, they found more than traces of color. “We took apart the bull wheel and cleaned the bearings,” Marvin recalls. “That way we could get the gears off. And that’s when we found ‘IHC’ on the casting – on a John Deere binder.” They surmise that it was easier for Deere to buy some International Harvester parts than to further develop its own.
While they do much of their own restoration work, some tasks – like the sheet metal on the No. 10 corn picker – are farmed out. Careful notes are taken during disassembly; photos also help. (Their one experiment with videotaping a disassembly was not a success: By the time the project advanced to the point where the videotape would have been useful, the tape had vanished, perhaps having been taped over.) Research supports everything from paint colors to decal placement. Current projects include a John Deere harrow, disc and No. 6 combine.
Sink or swim
A gleaming tractor and nearly 50 John Deere implements serve today as reminders of an era when resourcefulness and self-sufficiency were more than admirable goals. “The 1930s was not an easy decade,” Don says. “Lots of families had butchering equipment and sawmills. If you didn’t have that kind of equipment in the 1930s, you’d freeze to death or starve to death. Eighty acres could support a farm family. One threshing machine was used by 15 or 20 farms. In that context, I almost can’t comprehend a farmer today spending in excess of $300,000 on a combine.”
Every family member played an important role on the farm in the ’30s. “Everybody worked,” Don says. “If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. And everybody was in the same boat: Everybody was poor, but we never went hungry. If you wanted to eat, you raised it. You did what you had to do.” FCFor more information: There is no charge for admission to the museum. Individual, small group and bus tours are welcome, but the museum is open by appointment only. Don McKinley, 1336 Boy Scout Rd., Quincy, IL 62305; (217) 223-5099; e-mail: email@example.com; Marvin Huber, 1435 Boy Scout Rd., Quincy, IL 62305; (217) 430-9250; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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