Five books made our review list:
— How to Paint Your Tractor, by Tharran E. Gaines
— Garden Tractors: Deere, Cub Cadet, Wheel Horse, and All the Rest, 1930s to Current, by Oscar H. Will III
— How to Restore Ford Tractors: The Ultimate Guide to Rebuilding and Restoring N-Series and Later Tractors 1939-1962, by Tharran E. Gaines
— How to Keep Your Classic Tractor Alive, by Spencer Yost
— The Farm Tractor: 100 Years of North American Tractors, by Ralph Sanders
As it turns out, you can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. When it comes to painting a rusting hulk of a tractor, all you need is time, money, plenty of elbow grease – and Tharran Gaines’ new book, How to Paint Your Tractor.
Gaines is quick to admit that he’s no restoration artiste. But he’s studied carefully the techniques of those who are – and the results of that careful research are presented in this comprehensive, easy-to-follow tutorial.
Beginning with the process of setting up a shop, Gaines gives a methodical explanation of what’s needed, what options exist, and the pros and cons of every factor in the painting process. Essential techniques are illustrated through more than 250 color photos. The text follows a logical progression from introduction of the basics to the sometimes nerve-wracking decal application, and the author is careful to explain both the correct procedure and the potential pitfalls of shortcuts.
Topping it off: a handy index, list of parts vendors, paint codes and trouble-shooting suggestions to get derailed projects back on track – making this an indispensable book for any tractor restorer.
Good things come in small packages, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to garden tractors. Oscar H. Will’s newest book, Garden Tractors, celebrates the reliable little workhorses that make up a fast-growing collectible category.
Will’s book traces the development and marketing of the leaders of the pack – Deere, Cub Cadet, Wheel Horse and more. But the book is not all about the big boys: Gilson, Bolens, David Bradley, Panzer, Simplicity and Jacobsen get their day in the sun as well. Will starts the story at the beginning – essentially, World War I – and, working from a platform of solid research, delivers a comprehensive and complete history of the category.
The text moves along at a brisk pace but the author (a former contributor to Farm Collector and now the editor of Farm Collector‘s sister publication Grit) does not hesitate to amble down a side road to give a broader perspective. Topping that off: a treasure trove of Will’s gorgeous color photos showing a huge selection of immaculately restored units and very nice originals. Early photos and promotional shots from manufacturers’ archives are icing on the cake. Required reading for the garden tractor enthusiast.
Garden Tractors: Deere, Cub Cadet, Wheel Horse, and All the Rest, 1930s to Current by Oscar H. Will, 2009, hardcover, 8-1/2-by-11 inches, 128 pages, color and black-and-white photos, Voyageur Press, $25, available through the Farm Collector Store. [Back]
Fan of Ford tractors? Check out another Tharran Gaines title: How to Restore Ford Tractors. Whether your project is a Fordson, Ford-Ferguson or Ford, this resource is required reading. Packed with solid information, detailed instruction and proven techniques from experienced restorers, Ford Tractors provides the know-how you need to tackle a restoration project with confidence.
Gaines covers the basics (history of Ford tractors, setting up the shop and shopping for a tractor) and then digs deep into engine repair and rebuild, carburetor and diesel system overhaul, electrical systems, hydraulics, parts fabrication, body work and painting. Tons of photos (including many handsomely restored tractors) and illustrations demystify complex techniques; clear, easy-to-understand text provides the how and why. A detail-rich appendix (sources for parts, decals and tires, as well as tractor club contacts) completes the package. A must for the Ford collector!
How to Restore Ford Tractors: The Ultimate Guide to Rebuilding and Restoring N-Series and Later Tractors 1939-1962 by Tharran E. Gaines, 2008, softcover, 8-1/2-by-11 inches, 224 pages, color photos, Voyageur Press, $29.99, available through the Farm Collector Store. [Back]
Ever wish you had one go-to resource for tractor repair? Now you do: How to Keep Your Classic Tractor Alive provides just about everything you need to know about keeping that old iron running and looking good.
The book is an updated version of author Spencer Yost’s 1998 book, Antique Tractor Bible. As Yost notes, much changed in the ensuing decade. In a sort of “changing of the guard,” many knowledgeable “old timers” are no longer active in the hobby, and the next generation has a different set of skills and experiences.
In his new book, Yost speaks to that audience like a buddy leaning over the bed of a pickup. A lifetime of knowledge is imparted in a simple, down-to-earth and practical manner. Old iron can be a costly hobby, and Yost’s calm advice helps the novice avoid expensive missteps.
Every conceivable topic is tackled, from repairs to maintenance, displays to pulls, shop design to transporting tractors. Color photos and bite-size “antique tractor tips” give a strong boost to the text, and a comprehensive appendix (including glossary, lists of vendors and restoration services, and index) make this a handy reference resource for any antique iron hobbyist.
Play it again, Sam: The most comprehensive history of classic farm tractors is back, this time in softcover. The Farm Tractor: 100 Years of North American Farm Tractors has been re-released two years after first publication in 2007. It’s the same handsome book – just repackaged with a softcover and smaller overall dimensions.
Reading The Farm Tractor is as comfortable as visiting with an old friend. You can start at the beginning, or drop in at any point. Artfully designed, the book is a showcase of Ralph Sanders’ world-class photography. It also includes rarely published archival photos, advertising posters and brochures, all of which provide a unique look into the history of the farm tractor.
But The Farm Tractor is more than just another pretty face. With more than 40 years’ experience, the author knows his stuff. Sanders provides rich supporting material tracing the development of the tractor in North America, and a fact-studded time line offers useful context. Carefully researched, beautifully photographed, thoughtfully designed: The book is worthy of a second look. The only caveat: The re-release is identical to the original, just in a smaller package – so the type is quite small. You’ll need your reading glasses.
The Farm Tractor: 100 Years of North American Tractors by Ralph Sanders, 2009, softcover, 8-by-9 inches, 384 pages, color photos, Voyageur Press, $24.99, available through the Farm Collector Store. [Back] FC