Between the Bookends

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Barn Find Road Trip: 3 Guys, 14 Days and 1,000 Lost Collector Cars Discovered by Tom Cotter
2 / 3
The Tractor Factor: The World’s Rarest Classic Farm Tractors by Robert N. Pripps
3 / 3
Still Turning: A History of Aermotor Windmills by Christopher C. Gillis

If your idea of fun is snooping in old barns looking for treasures, then you will probably think Tom Cotter is living the dream. Author of Barn Find Road Trip, Cotter spent two weeks tooling around the countryside looking for lost collector cars.

The book describes the adventures of the author, a self-described “auto archaeologist,” car collector pal Brian Barr and photographer Michael Alan Ross during a 14-day ramble through the Southeast. Unburdened by anything resembling an agenda, the trio traveled back roads and asked for leads at every stop. Their choice of transportation – Cotter’s 1939 Ford Woody – proved a useful conversation starter.

Cotter loads you up and takes you along to every stop, discovering more than 1,000 collector cars in the process. He recounts conversations with collectors, shares the incredible stories behind the relics and captures a rich slice of Americana. And he includes useful tips and pointers on how you can stage a similar adventure of your own: Big fun!

Barn Find Road Trip: 3 Guys, 14 Days and 1,000 Lost Collector Cars Discovered, by Tom Cotter with photography by Michael Allen Ross, 2015, Motorbooks; hardcover, 192 pages, color photography throughout.

Robert Pripps’ new book, The Tractor Factor: The World’s Rarest Classic Farm Tractors, is one big, glorious buffet line of rare tractors. And Pripps backs up that claim, providing solid information on what makes each unique.

Like beauty, rarity is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. Pripps builds a case for each tractor in comprehensive yet concise text. Categorizing his contenders by age, fame, distinctive horsepower, low production numbers and collector desirability, the author provides ample context (although there is at least some room for debate over those included in the “Cream of the Crop” section, those Pripps deems most desirable).

Most collectors will have at least passing knowledge of many of these tractors. But Pripps sprinkles in an assortment of little-known, rarely seen models: the Renault HO, the Eagle 16/30 H and the Kaywood D, among others. The tractors featured span nearly nine decades, starting with a 1910 Pioneer 30 and ending with a 1997 JCB Fastrac.

Each tractor in the book is showcased in world-class photography. Ralph Sanders and Andrew Morland are premier craftsmen well familiar with old iron, and each shows these unique tractors to their best advantage.

The Tractor Factor: The World’s Rarest Classic Farm Tractors, by Robert N. Pripps with photography by Ralph W. Sanders and Andrew Morland, 2015, Voyageur Press; hardcover, 160 pages, color photography throughout.

For those who’ve read John Deere’s Company, Wayne G. Broehl’s intricately detailed history of Deere & Co., Christopher C. Gillis’ Still Turning: A History of Aermotor Windmills will feel like familiar territory, in the sense that Still Turning is a deeply researched, comprehensive corporate history.

The new editor of The Windmiller’s Gazette, Gillis has dug into the history of the Aermotor Co. with singular determination. The results of his research trace the history of a uniquely American company. Established in 1888, Aermotor is this country’s only remaining full-time manufacturer of water-pumping machines.

Gillis starts his story at the beginning, going all the way back to man’s earliest attempts to raise water from below ground. A windmill enthusiast for decades, Gills has studied windmills all over the world. He uses that knowledge and perspective to lend meaningful context to the history of the Aermotor Company.

The use of galvanizing baths to protect components against rust, development of three-leg towers, a continuous lubrication system and a line of stationary gas engines – all are part of the Aermotor heritage. The windmill is an enduring symbol of rural America. Still Turning is a solid historical account of a company that had tremendous impact on farm life.

Still Turning: A History of Aermotor Windmills, by Christopher C. Gillis with foreword by T. Lindsay Baker, 2015, Texas A&M University Press; hardcover, 274 pages, black-and-white photos and historical images. FC

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