Letters to the Editor

Remembering when tractors were home-built

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A while back I was at the V.A. Medical Center, waiting my turn, thumbing through some old magazines. One issue reminded me of the period just after the end of World War II. Tractors were hard to come by then. If you did get one, it was through the black market. Many an old truck and piece of horse equipment was converted to use as a tractor, and many farmers went to high school at night to learn to weld and paint. There was no cab, just long johns, and no power steering. For lights, two kerosene lanterns; to keep out the dust, goggles and a bandanna. You had to head to Kansas if you needed a combine and then it was a pull-type. There was no auger, just some No. 14 scoop shovels. For clean up: the horse tank and a bar of Lifebuoy soap. Then, find in the tank a quart of home brew; one will get you home, two will get you lost.

Shaw Mfg. Co. of Galesburg, Kan., sold plans to build a riding tractor known as the War Horse with attachments. Popular Mechanics in two issues had plans for building a farm tractor snow blower. I think it was built from a silage blower and a silage cutter pickup attachment. If I could find plans for all of this, I'd put my memory back to use.

- Thomas Zulkoski
1318 N. California Ave.
Hastings, NE 68901-3223