Small Wonders: Farm Scale Models

Craftsman's scale models reflect fascination with antique farm implements and equipment.

| November 2015

It may be difficult to believe that more than 300 horses, dozens of threshing machines, countless wagons, corn planters and vintage toys are tucked away in Bill Brinkman’s basement. But it all fits – because every item is a scale model.

Bill’s collection includes a host of 1/16th and 1/10th scale items built by this collector-turned-craftsman. His passion is fueled by the combination of a farm background and a fascination with how equipment was designed, how it operated and what it takes to create a realistic model of it.

“My dad occasionally worked with a team of horses on our farm near Plainview, Minnesota,” Bill says. “I was pretty little then, so I didn’t learn much about the Belgians he used. Those memories have fueled my love for horses all my life. The first piece I collected was a handmade stagecoach I found in 1989 in an Arizona shop.”

The stagecoach drew him in like a magnet. He examined it carefully before balking at the price. Later, he returned to the shop to negotiate an agreeable price. Once he got the piece home, he says, “I had a feeling that I could make a similar scale model myself.”

Learning from the masters

After creating an even more detailed stagecoach, Bill started collecting ideas, plans and material to make scale model wagons, including circus wagons, sleighs, Budweiser 8-horse hitches, water wagons, corn planters and cultivators. Since then, he’s produced more than 300 models of two-wheel carts, log sleds, buckboards, bakery and milk wagons and a chuck wagon with a kitchen in back.

Until his death in 2004, Dick Eighmey, Waterloo, Iowa, served as Bill’s mentor. “Dick and I spent a lot of time on the phone,” Bill says. “He helped me find harness for my horses, which isn’t so easy now. There aren’t many suppliers. I’m fortunate to have a source who does quality work.”

2/20/2018 10:42:41 AM

yes thrashing days my Dad had a crew that went from farm to farm and I remember driving the tractor that pulled the binder making the bundles and shocking them later. We lived around Buckman/Little Rock Minnesota. I also remember driving the tractor while people stacked the bundles on the wagons going to the thrashing machine. I was 8 or 10 years old Yes the food was always excellent Baloney/lettuce/fresh bread sandwiches before and after lunch breaks and Fresh Lemonade to wash it down jjsimon

5/3/2016 5:22:38 PM

very sad news, Bill passed away April 30 2016 at 69 from a massive heart attack. he will be greatly missed.