Iowa State University Antique Tractor Club

Iowa State University Antique Tractor Club members learn fine points of old iron.

| November 2013

Some Iowa State University students have a rather unusual credit on their resumes: “Member: ISU Antique Tractor Club.” Although they don’t earn credit and some have to squeeze meetings into heavy class loads, ISU students at Ames have been enjoying the benefits of their own on-campus tractor club for the past several years. This fall they’ve begun restoring a 1951 Massey-Harris 22 that was recently donated by an area collector.

Club President William Frels says the club has been so popular that it’s outgrown its original shop location. Loren Book, who farms northeast of Ames, owns the shop where the group painted the last three tractors it restored and where members worked on their 2012 tractor project. A Minneapolis-Moline enthusiast, Loren got acquainted with the group when members worked on a MM ZTU three years ago. He allowed the club to work in his shop since then, but the club’s growth has necessitated a move.

“We’re moving into a university-owned building just off campus this fall,” William says. “Our only dilemma with that is that we were using the tools in Loren’s shop. Our plan this year is to work with tool companies to obtain donated tools and raise funds to buy the rest.” The club will also be responsible for utilities at the new space.

William joined the club two years ago when he moved to Ames from his hometown of Guthrie Center, Iowa, to begin his academic career. Now a junior majoring in animal science, the idea of restoring vintage tractors was nothing new to him.

“I had quite a bit of experience with antique tractors,” William says. “My grandfather and father were both interested in working on old tractors and gas engines when I was growing up. Dad actually heard about the ISU tractor club before I did and encouraged me to check it out. Since I’ve been playing with old tractors all my life, I’ve found it refreshing to have an extracurricular activity here that allows me to take a break from classes and homework.”

Many tractor club members have similar backgrounds. Others are getting their first taste of vintage equipment and restoration work through the club. “Some members grew up in town,” William says. “But they have a genuine interest in learning about old tractors and how to restore them. Each member finds their niche, whether that’s mechanics or painting or other types of restoration work. We always try to share what we know with each other. Anyone who’s willing to learn will find a lot of opportunity for new experiences through our restoration projects.”