Too Rough to Run?

A novel solution puts gnarly, old non-running vehicles back on the parade route.

| March 2018

Having spent half a century driving a tractor almost daily during the summer months, I find that in America’s mountain states a person has extremely limited access to a gathering of enthusiasts that results in tractor shows like those in the Midwest.

Television coverage of such gatherings almost boggle the minds of those of us who never see large numbers of tractors assembled in one place. A regional show of the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club was held in northern Utah a couple of years ago. As a longtime operator of a D4 Cat crawler, I wanted to at least go and look, but the 800-mile round trip from southern Idaho kept me from it. 

About the only flaw in TV coverage is the static depiction of the tractors. Row upon row of John Deere, Farmall and Ford tractors are shown. Obviously those hundreds of tractors had to be hauled to the site, unloaded and driven into the display area. All of that activity has to be somewhat exciting, but the viewing audience misses it all because the show is presented only after everything is organized. The displayed tractors are vital objects with color, movement, sound and even smell. How is that conveyed to the viewing audience in their living rooms? An even a better question: How is it conveyed to the thousands of visitors who come to the show after it opens?

Fortunately one sometimes now sees parades of tractors on the move with a TV host stopping each one to inquire of the driver what they are driving and where they are from. We get to see only a few on TV since time is limited. Surely all of the hundreds of tractors on display aren’t included in the parade, because that would take days at regular tractor speeds. What the parade does is show tractors moving like we all know they do, and we appreciate seeing that.



It seems that almost everyone interviewed on a TV program has a tale to tell about finding a derelict tractor “along the fence line” or some other abandoned site. That find becomes the focus of the collector’s time, effort and money as they resurrect or restore the newly acquired tractor. If photographs are shown of the process, one wonders how it was possible to re-create an outstanding finished product. The tractor in question now looks like it is brand-new.

They’re only original once

In the last few years, a major change has taken place. Today, original vehicles – no matter their condition – are considered just as interesting as those that look brand-new.