Snake River Valley Tractor and Equipment Restorers

Old iron is reborn in Idaho's Snake River Valley


| February 2000



Walt Schoen's line-up of 13 restored tractors

Walt Schoen's line-up of 13 restored tractors. "It takes about four or five hours to get them all out of the shed," he said. "Some start and some don't, but these all ran for me this morning except for Fordson. We had to pull it. It generally runs, but it was a little balky this morning. Each tractor has a personality of its own."

Collections of born-again tractors and other farm implements are cropping up all over Idaho's Snake River Valley. Old, tired, worn out and junked tractors are being hunted down and turned into near-new working machines by several happy restorers, mostly retired farmers. Branch 7 of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, comprising mostly restorers of farm equipment, was founded to bring these restorers together. It issues a newsletter rather whimsically named "IRON," an acronym for Idaho Rusty Objects Nuts. Three of its members are particularly avid collectors. 

DJ. Baisch

One of them, D.J. Baisch, calls his place D.J.'s TOIS (pronounced "toys"), for Tired Old Iron Stuff. D.J.'s shop and playpen are located a few miles north of Idaho Falls, Idaho. His mailbox (the housing and crankcase of a stationary gasoline engine) sits across the road from his house. A huge, circular saw blade with a painted scene hangs from a frame at the entrance to his driveway.

D.J. grew up on a farm near Idaho Falls and really hasn't left it. Although the family farm ceased to operate many years ago, he swears a Farmall H front-end loader he recently bought belonged to his father. He's a man who loves his toys, and he lavishes all the attention on them that a little boy might give his first toy tractor. As he talks, it sounds as if he can't wait to show you his next project. And the projects he's completed are outstanding. His enthusiasm for his subject is as unbounded as is his knowledge. He can tell you the history of practically every tractor manufacturer that ever started a factory.

One of his favorites: a 20 hp Aultman-Taylor steam traction engine he acquired in Montana and rebuilt to look like new.

Last spring, D.J. used it to plow a ten-acre field with an eight-bottom plow he brought from Canada. He's also shown it, with some pride, at fairs and other gatherings. It uses about 200 gallons of water per hour (his water tender has a 1921 Sears undercarriage with a tank of uncertain lineage).

Another of D.J.'s toys and probably his favorite is an Eagle 20-35 Model E tractor.