Miniature Tractor Masterpieces

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

| July 2018

  • tractor
    This miniature display depicts a typical farm shop, where an Allis-Chalmers Model WC is torn down for repair — complete with life-like tools.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • toy-tractor
    A display of miniatures created by Beryl. From left to right: a gravity flow box, a New Idea manure spreader, an Artsway feed grinder, a Cockshutt 35 and an Allis-Chalmers road grader.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • tractors
    A trio of four-wheel-drive articulated drive dual-wheel tractors. Left to right: a John Deere 8030, a Ford and an Allis-Chalmers 440.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • crane
    Beryl’s hand-built replica of a Sargent dragline crane shows the engine in detail.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • tractor
    A miniature replica of a Kelly-Springfield self-propelled road roller.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • crawler
    Beryl’s John Deere MC crawler. The tools of Beryl’s trade include small knives with snap-off blades, needle-nose pliers and a full line of woodworking tools.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • farmall-h
    Beryl’s interpretation of a farmer-built modification of dual Farmall H tractors.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • tractor
    Beryl’s display of early John Deere tractors starts at the beginning with a Waterloo Boy (left).
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • buggy
    This display shows a New Idea hay loader being used to load hay on a horse-drawn wagon. Beryl Buffington uses various plastics in creating his handmade tractors and implements.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • combine
    Beryl hand-built this Claas Lexion 770 self-propelled combine.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • haybine
    A full-size version of this International Harvester haybine would have been used to rake hay into rows.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • tractors
    Beryl’s pair of four-wheel-drive articulated dual-wheel tractors: Big Bud HN 320 (left) and an International 9350.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • tractors
    This set of tractors includes an Oliver Super 88, Oliver 1650 with a front-mounted cultivator and a Massey-Harris Pony.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • threshing-machine
    The full-size version of this International Harvester threshing machine with a Hart Cleaner would have been powered by a steam engine.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • steam-engine
    Beryl spent about three weeks crafting this Gaar-Scott 20-30 steam engine.
    Photo by J.O. Parker
  • Beryl-Buffington
    Beryl Buffington.
    Photo by J.O. Parker

  • tractor
  • toy-tractor
  • tractors
  • crane
  • tractor
  • crawler
  • farmall-h
  • tractor
  • buggy
  • combine
  • haybine
  • tractors
  • tractors
  • threshing-machine
  • steam-engine
  • Beryl-Buffington

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.