The Gatefold Book of Tractors

Between the Bookends: The Gatefold Book of Tractors provides the history of the tractor in North America as well as plenty of gorgeous photos of tractors.

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You don't so much curl up with the Gatefold Book of Tractors as you just plain wallow in it. Lavish fold-outs make the book, edited by the folks at the Farm Museum, a fun way to absorb detail.

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The Gatefold Book of Tractors keeps on going, and going, and going

If you've ever felt that book photos of tractors are just too small to get all the details, you'll want to read The Gatefold Book Of Tractors. A large, spiral-bound volume with a hard cover, this book presents colorful and deftly produced photographs of 36 tractors in gate-fold pullouts, with four dedicated panels for each tractor featured.

The Farm Museum in Ontario, Canada, provides an overview on the history of the tractor in North America and Europe in a five-page introduction. Much of the remaining technical tractor information is provided by the Farm Museum.

The book progresses from the 1912 Type N Fairbanks Morse to the 1952 Chase D. In between are 34 other tractors, representative of collectibles from the pre-Depression period to post-war expansionary times. You'll find the 1920 John Boy Waterloo Boy N, 1930 Eagle H 22-45, 1938 Case L, and the 1952 Case D.

In the description of each model, the tractor collector will find interesting tidbits of information. The Hart-Parr Company, for instance, utilized a unique marketing tool for its displays at state fairs in the 1920s. A tractor was suspended from an overhead frame, allowing the tractor to hoist itself up on its own power, or 'by its own bootstraps.'

Other facts gleaned: the color of Fordson tractors was changed to dark green from orange during World Ward II because the bright orange color in a farm field was just too obvious an enemy target. The 1922 Fordson F was such a mechanical nightmare that many farmer s didn't shut it off during lunch, for fear they couldn't get it started again. And over at Case, despite early success with threshing machinery, efforts to develop a gasoline-powered engine in the late 1800's failed miserably. Case's 1925 12-20 tractor represented the company's return to the gasoline tractor engine of 20 years previous.

Each tractor featured includes a large side view of the tractor with corresponding front and back shots. Several small dose-up photos accompany the main photos, showing interesting and important details. A succinct description of the model is included, telling all you need to know in as few words as possible. For the statistic-minded tractor enthusiast, specifications are provided on the engine, manufacturer and transmission.

The book is one of the most colorful and attractive reference books on tractors available. It's as close as you can get to the real thing, short of visiting a museum or a show. The book's presentation and lavish use of color make it an ideal gift or coffee table display. The Gatefold Book of Tractors is a terrific asset to any reference library, whether you're a veteran tractor collector or merely have a passing fascination with those mechanical work horses of yesteryear.

The Gatefold Book Of Tractors, by The Farm Museum with an introduction by Stuart Gibbard, Chartwell Books, 2005, ISBN: 0785819835; 152 pages, sprial bound paperback, $14.99. FC

Jim Romeo is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, VA. For information about his most recent book, 'The Autograph Source Book,' contact him at 1008 Weeping Willow Drive, Chesapeake, VA 23322.