10 Reasons to Trust in Rust: Explanations for Collecting Old Tractors

Hobby got you on the hot seat again? Tractor restorer extraordinaire Roger Welsch offers ironclad defense.

| August 2008

  • roger_laughing.jpg
    Roger Welsch.
    Photo by Lisa Linnemeyer

  • roger_laughing.jpg

As this country's reigning ambassador of antique tractors and farm equipment, Roger Welsch speaks on old iron and small-town life with equal amounts of authority and irreverence. Author of 38 books on topics ranging from old tractors to outhouses, he lives with his wife, 'the Lovely Linda,' on a tree farm in central Nebraska. His articles and essays on tractor restoration and small-town life have appeared in Successful Farming, Esquire and Readers Digest, and he's been a regular guest on CBS's Sunday Morning. Need more credentials? 'I'd rather collect old tractors,' he says, 'than pay for therapy.' 

One of the most common questions faced by those of us who acquire huge amounts of scrap iron - uh, I mean historical agricultural treasures - is 'Why?!' I hear that question almost daily, mostly from my wife, Lovely Linda. I have therefore developed a repertoire of snappy answers that speak to her curiosity, confuse her enough to send her away mumbling or annoy her enough that she retreats to the kitchen to perfect her recipe for cold, lumpy gravy.

Here, then, are 10 practical reasons for collecting, restoring, loving and pouring fortunes into old tractors and farm machinery:

Reason No. 1 

Buying old tractors and machinery is a good investment. As they say about land, they aren't making any more. We can ignore for the moment that, well, yes, they actually are making new tractors, and they are better and sometimes even cheaper. Often people who ask such questions don't think of this, so with any luck, you'll get away with the investment idea. Tell your spouse you are only thinking of her and the children and building up a huge estate in antiques and tangible goods (that sounds better than 'scrap iron'). Sure, it's dumb, but it might work.

Reason No. 2