Simple Pleasures: Tractor Collections

Old iron and tractor collections bring happiness and therapeutic benefits to collectors from different walks of life.

| March 2016

I’ve written articles about other people’s tractor collections for some 15 years now, and it’s fair to say that I’ve met all sorts of characters during that time. Some people have been extremely laid back, whilst others are fiercely competitive. Some are fastidiously tidy and conscientious, whilst some people I’ve met have been the messiest souls imaginable, with chaotic sheds piled high with trash and treasures, and tools all over the floor.

I’ve met extremely wealthy collectors who house their tractors and artifacts in outbuildings far grander than the house I live in. At the other end of the scale are the people without two pennies to rub together, people who have scrimped and saved to buy themselves an old wreck of a tractor and who have restored it gradually, by themselves, recycling materials and making do and mending to keep costs down.

One thing I’ve noticed it is that the person who owns a £300 (about $450) Ferguson tractor usually seems to have just as much fun with it as the person who owns a real rarity that cost five figures. My young nephew, Gareth, bought an old Ferguson tractor with a mixture of savings and birthday and Christmas money, and he has since had many happy hours tinkering with the tractor and learning about how the machine is put together. Being able to use his own tractor to help his family out on the land has been a huge source of pride too.

I really love the fact that there is room for people of all ages and income levels in this hobby of ours, and all are equally important. To me, the person who is willing to restore a £30 ($45) seed drill made by a long-forgotten company is just as crucial to the preservation of our heritage as the person willing to shell out £35,000 ($53,000) at auction for a rare vintage tractor.

Hobbies and happiness

Last week I spoke to Paul Jones, who was featured in the September 2014 issue of Farm Collector, along with his collection of vintage farm implements. Paul has a passion for farm implements, in particular horse-drawn seed drills. Recently he bought a few more artifacts to add to his collection, including a seed drill built by the Welsh firm John Williams & Son of Rhuddlan. There are many long-since defunct but still very well-known British firms who produced horse-drawn implements and barn machines, but Paul is most interested in the firms that operated in this part of Wales, the treasures that are right under our feet, yet so often overlooked.

Paul gains huge satisfaction from the simple pleasure of taking a rusty old implement, and with just elbow grease and patience, resurrecting the sorry old relic, so that it is almost as good as new. Just knowing that, with a little bit of effort, one has preserved an artifact for perhaps another 50 years is a great feeling in itself. Even when restored, many of these old implements aren’t worth a great deal of money, but I like to think that the best of us in this hobby do it for love, and not for money.