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The Field Guide to Vintage Farm Tractors

Author Photo
By Gary Van Hoozer

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Not quite pocket size, but still handy for travel ...
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Robert Pripps' new book includes vintage literature.

Whether you’re a generalist, or you’re looking for particulars on a specific antique tractor, you’ll likely be rewarded by taking a new reference book along on your next hunting trip. The Field Guide to Vintage Farm Tractors, by Robert N. Pripps, should be included in your bag. It includes brief histories, model runs, specification details and clear color photographs of tractors highlighting 27 manufacturers and more than 500 models, series, and variations of vintage tractors from the U.S. and Canada from 1900 to 1960.

Pripps is a veteran author, having produced many references on old tractors, and he’s operated, worked on, or closely inspected about anything that once moved or still does. (His most recent book is Vintage Ford Tractors.) He’s right down the row on history, mechanics and other information for the reader. Digest one old machine he details, and you’ll want to devour the next, even though your original information goal has been met.

In the book’s introduction, Pripps speaks of vintage tractors’ unique qualities, an element fast disappearing in today’s models.

“… in this day of computer-aided design, competing products are losing traits of individuality; in other words, everyone is using the same software program and getting the same results. This was certainly not so when these tractors were first developed. The personalities of the designers came through, and now these machines are like moving memorials to them and their place in history.”

The guide is richly illustrated with more than 150 color photos by Andrew Morland of correctly restored tractors, and excellent printing reproduction aids in determining original paint colors. There are also many close-ups shot by professional photographers of engines, gear cases, etc.

Other graphics include old ads and sales literature. Especially useful are those on rare models and those made in low production numbers.

For the technically inclined, Pripps has constructed a specifications table for each machine covered. Included are company models and years built; number, bore and stroke of available engines; engine displacement and horse power; and tractor weight (in pounds and kilograms).

In addition to tractors made by major manufacturers everyone’s heard of, Pripps gives very complete information on rare models and those produced in low numbers, such as Albaugh-Dover, Co-operative, Eagle, Emerson-Brantingham, Fate-Root-Heath, Frick, Friday, Happy Farmer, Huber and Sawyer-Massey.

If you’re looking for a compact, precise and very complete tractor reference, Pripps’ field guide is well worth your consideration. And when you’re on the road, you’ll appreciate the book’s compact (roughly 6″ by 9″) size. FC

Gary Van Hoozer is a Missouri writer specializing in vintage agriculture and farm history.

Published on Oct 1, 1999

Farm Collector Magazine

Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment