Miniature Tractor Masterpieces

An Iowa man returns to an old hobby of building museum-quality miniature tractors and implements by hand.

| July 2018

Growing up on a farm in the northern Iowa community of Woden, Beryl Buffington learned at an early age how to make his own toys and keep himself entertained.

“I had a little section of ground behind our house that I turned into a play farm,” recalls Beryl, now 75. “I would cut down little twigs and branches and make fence posts and use a piece of wire for the fencing.”

When a neighbor or friend passed along an old toy tractor, Beryl – one of 10 kids in his family – designed a little trailer or wagon to pull behind it using things he found on the farm. “I remember finding a rolled-up piece of tin that looked like a spout on a corn picker,” he says. “I would improvise from there.”

Those toys of his childhood are long gone, but Beryl’s imagination remains as active today as it was years ago. Now retired, in recent years he’s built nearly 200 miniature tractors, farm implements and steam engines that could find a home in any museum.

“You look at things different than other people do,” Beryl says of his hobby. “I’ve always been that way.”

Work puts hobby on hold

Born in Crystal Lake, Iowa, Beryl spent most of his life in nearby Woden, where he went to high school, married and, with his wife, Sharon, raised two daughters. His first job was working for his father-in-law at the Woden hardware store. He landed the job after his brother-in-law went into the military during the Vietnam era.


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