Richard Backus, Editor-in-Chief
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At first blush, Farm Collector and Gas Engine Magazine editor-in-chief Richard Backus seems a little like a round peg in a square hole. The son of a college history professor, Richard grew up on a college campus, not a farm. But while he may not have been plowing fields, like his father he cultivated a love of history. Unlike his father, however, he also developed an abiding interest in things mechanical.
Trains, planes, cars and motorcycles, Richard was interested in anything that moved. He tore apart his first car at the age of 14, and according to his mother the first thing he ever wrote – on his bedroom wall in permanent marker – was, “Look, go go is.” It was a portent of things to come.
Since that first car, Richard has owned and fixed – but rarely restored; he says he’s too impatient – dozens of vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles. He’s worked as a mechanic, a shop foreman, an auto parts broker, a body shop apprentice and a brewer. Old iron has always drawn him, as has an interest in writing and magazines.
Ignoring a college history professor who suggested he seek a career in medieval history, Richard continued to pursue his own interests, earning bachelor and graduate degrees in journalism. After working at several technical magazines, in 2001 Ogden Publications hired Richard as editor of Gas Engine Magazine and The Iron-Men Album.
Richard assumed the editorship of Farm Collector in 2003, and in 2005 launched a new title for Ogden, Motorcycle Classics. “I love history, and I love mechanics,” Richard says, “and Farm Collector and Gas Engine revolve around those two elements. They explore and celebrate a fascinating and mostly ignored corner of American agricultural and industrial history.”
Richard makes his home in Lawrence, Kan., where he surrounds himself with old iron, including a circa-1917 Wisconsin Universal 8 HP four-cylinder engine that spent its working life in the Colorado Rockies powering a homemade saw mill and a 1921 IHC 1-1/2 HP farm engine that kept pumps running on a small Kansas farm.