To ease you through the holiday shopping season, we've organized this selection of tractor books and tractor gifts.
Christmas has arrived. It's the time of year to be with family as we celebrate the season. But it's also — alas — a time of stress as we prepare for family time and celebrations. Wouldn't it help to get some of your shopping out of the way? For loved ones who love farming and/or farm history, we'd like to recommend the following tractor books and tractor gifts.
Scott L. Thompson writes in the introduction to his new book, Rumely, a Look Back over 150 Years: 1853-2003, 'I did not set out to include every serial number, statistic, Nebraska test result, or piece of technical information on Rumely and related machinery in this book' — but he came pretty darn close.
With assistance from members of Rumely Products Collectors Inc., Thompson has compiled a detailed report on the history of one of the United States' most innovative and influential players in the early agricultural machinery field.
Thompson, a collector from Tremont, IL, takes readers on a fast-paced tour through the years, and the generations, beginning in 1848 and continuing up to 1938, when Rumely stock was officially taken off the New York Stock Exchange. He weaves many personal stories of the players in this drama into his report, both human and machine. From the compelling portrait on page 3 of Meinrad and Teresa Rumely to the stories of such fabled Rumely tractors as 'Kerosene Annie,' 'Old No. 1' and 'The Swamp Angel,' to those of the other companies that became intertwined with Rumely over time, Thompson systematically pulls the pieces of the puzzle together.
He concludes the book in the present day, with an update on surviving machines and buildings, information on the collectors' club, photographs of collectors and their machines, and data, including original Rumely production numbers and model years, and counts on various surviving Rumelys - 'Zs,' for example, are the rarest. Only 215 were originally made, and only 20 are known to survive.
The photographs alone are a treasure of Rumely and North American agricultural history. Combined with Thompson's chronicle, they make this volume a very nice addition to the antique farm machinery-collecting world of today.
- Rumely, A Look Back over 150 Years: 1853-2003, by Scott Thompson, published by Thompson and the Rumely Products Collectors Inc., 2002. No ISBN. $25 plus $5.50 for shipping and handling from Farm Collector Books.
John Harvey, the man who first put antique tractors on the pages of a calendar, has his 2003 edition ready to roll. It features 14 vintage machines representing 10 brands and located in six states. They range in age from a 1929 Keck-Gonnerman 30-60 to a 1963 Allis-Chalmers D-15, nick-named the 'Birdcage' and used in orchards.
- The Original Classic Farm Tractors 2003 Collectors Edition Calendar, Video and Collector's Tin. By Classic Tractor Fever. Calendar, $9.50; video, $25; collector's tin, $12.50 or 3 for $30, all plus shipping and handling. Order from Classic Tractor Fever.
Tharran E. Gaines deserves generous praise for his effort at this do-it-yourself guide to rebuilding and restoring antique tractors. He's produced a useful book that is both well organized and clearly written, and that could go a long way toward helping a greenhorn find his or her way about a piece of ailing old iron.
After Gaines walks the reader through a tractor selection and shop setup, he offers solid suggestions for getting started — maybe the most important chapter in the book — and tips for troubleshooting. He breaks down the actual restoration work clearly, too: Chapter five, for example, deals with engine repair and rebuilding; chapter six with the clutch, transmission and PTO; chapter seven with final drive and brakes, and so on.
The book concludes with an abundance of suggestions for showing off a newly restored machine and with a listing of parts and other sources, portions of which should have been updated. Despite that, the book would be a thoughtful holiday gift for anyone about to embark on a first restoration project.
- How to Restore Classic Farm Tractors by Tharran E. Games, published by Voyageur Press. ISBN: 0-89658-455-0. $29.95 plus $5.50 for shipping and handling from Farm Collector Books; item no. 1469.
In this post-Sept. 11 world, many folks — including old-iron collectors — are feeling a renewed sense of patriotism, and wanting to show it. Farm Collector magazine, with the help of Iowa artist Terry Downs, has come up with a way to help do just that. Downs' limited edition print, The American Dream, combines patriotism and old iron in one. The nostalgic picture features a big, boldly displayed U.S. flag and a 4020 diesel John Deere with a matching 336 kick baler on behind. On board is a most assuredly patriotic, young farmer, ready to hit the fields; his young children, one waving his own small U.S. flag, and their pets stand watching and admiring. The tidy and prosperous-looking farmstead symbolizes all the good, enduring farms of this land.
The American Dream. Image size: 16-by-21 inches; print size: 20-by-25 inches. Now $39.99, from Farm Collector Books; item no. 1511.
Two of Bob Artley's popular books have been reintroduced just in time for holiday gift giving. His humorous reflections on farm life, accentuated by his artistic hand, spring from his personal experiences as a farm boy in rural Iowa.
In Artley's world, every experience — good or bad — is one to cherish, and document. Memories of a Former Kid chronicles the universal pains of adolescence against a backdrop that includes farm chores, Christmases, bad weather, and lazy days by the creek. 'We didn't have inside plumbing at our house until we were grown — so keeping clean was not as simple as turning a tap for hot or cold water and pulling a plug when finished,' he writes on one topic. 'In the summer we sometimes planned ahead by pumping a washtub of water in the morning and letting it sit in the hot sun all day.' His accompanying cartoon captures perfectly the awkward experience of bathing in a wash basin in a cold kitchen, with heat supplied only by an open oven door.
His stories are chock full of wisdom and insight with respect to every conceivable chore from separating milk to cleaning the chicken coop.
The illustrations and scenerios in both books are first class; either or both volumes would make a great holiday treat.
- Memories of a Former Kid: Once Upon a Time on the Family Farm, by Bob Artley, published by Voyageur Press, 2002. ISBN 0-89658-493-3. $12.95 plus $2.95 for shipping and handling, from Farm Collector Books; item no. 1578.
- Book of Farm Chores: As Remembered by a Former Kid, by Bob Artley, published by Voyageur Press, 2002. ISBN 0-89658-434-8. $12.95 plus $2.95 for shipping and handling, from Farm Collector Books; item no. 1499.
The cover photo, which shows a laughing Roger Welsch in a parts-strewn tractor shop, hints boldly that this book delivers laughs galore, and Welsch enthusiasts will indeed have plenty to chuckle about when they get their hands on this latest installment of his unique views of tractors, life, and love.
In this new volume — Welsch's 27th, according to the book jacket — the Nebraska-born humorist tackles head-on the touchy subject of women, filtering his thoughts through the lens of his own rural world. The reader discovers a Welsch who reportedly takes just as much care in his dealings with the opposite sex — mostly his 'long-suffering' wife, Linda — as he does with his tractors.
Ladies, this book is a good recommendation for your man if he is a guy's guy — one who likes a bawdy joke and a slightly raw tongue-in-cheek style of humor.
Welsch may not be the most politically correct guy when it comes to the other gender, but he can turn out shoptalk at its best. It's called the now-famous Welsch style of storytelling.
- Everything I Know about Women I Learned from My Tractor, by Roger Welsch, published by MBI Publishing Co., 2002. ISBN 0-7603-1149-8. $19.95 plus $4 shipping and handling, from Farm Collector Books; item no. 1576.
From front to back, this coffee-table book bleeds green. The stories and photographs have been compiled from John Deere's best-known pundits: Don Macmillan, Ralph Hughes, C.H. Wendel, and Chester Peterson Jr., to name just a few, and the illustrations are by none other than one of the most-celebrated contemporary John Deere artists, Charles Freitag.
John Deere equipment is treated as more than machinery in many households — it's revered, and this book focuses on just such pieces of equipment and the stories behind them.
Essays included tell what makes the machines important to their owners, and to the continuing life and legacy of Deere & Co. Some of the stories center on the 'firsts' associated with John Deere tractors: their introduction on the farm and learning to drive one, for example; others recall some of the frustrations that came with having to learn new farming techniques as the industry switched from horse- to engine-powered machines; all are nostalgic, sentimental, and sometimes humorous.
This 160-page anthology is a high-quality effort too, matching the quality with which John Deere always has been associated. The photographs range from personal black-and-white snapshots of tractors and their owners to elegant professional 'portraits' of present-day collectors and their machines.
Anyone who's a John Deere fan should find something of interest between the covers of this well-done book, whether they purchase it for themselves or receive it as a gift.
- This Old John Deere: A Treasury of Vintage Tractors and Family Farm Memories, edited by Michael Dregni, published by Voyageur Press, 2002. ISBN 0-89658-441-0. $29.95 plus $5.50 shipping and handling, from Farm Collector Books; item no. 1577.
John Deere Farm Toys couldn't be more 'hot off the presses' for holiday shoppers wanting the latest and greatest in farm toy reference material. This brand new book contains more than 1,400 photographs (eight pages are in full color) that identify more than 1,700 John Deere farm toys. Another 700 toys are described but not shown in photographs.
Author Bill Vossler, a regular Farm Collector writer whose work also appears in John Deere TRADITION and Toy Farmer magazines, says he aimed to 'list every John Deere farm toy ever made,' and he surely came close.
Readers will find the earliest John Deere toys from Arcade, Vindex, and other old-time manufacturers to the 2002 releases from Ertl and other current-day manufacturers, and everything in between.
The book, which is subtitled Identification Guide, Value Guide, and Inventory List, also contains the most-current prices for John Deere toys, as well as check boxes and note space for keeping inventories of personal collections.
- John Deere Farm Toys, by Bill Vossler. Published by North Star Press and Bill Vossler Books. ISBN 0-9708041-2-1. $29.95 plus $3.05 shipping and handling, from Bill Vossler Books.