Customized Scale Tractors

Small satisfaction: Hobbyist's kick comes from modifying toy tractors

| December 2008

Dan Severson has at least 20 tractors. And he’s working quite diligently on all of them – with tweezers, in the dining room.

“I start with a plain toy out of a package from any store,” explains the Chatfield, Minn., man whose hobby is reconstructing, detailing and building 1/64-scale metal and plastic toy tractors. “I strip all the paint off, add lights, handrails, interior details like levers, and repaint it.”

Though he’s never lived on a farm, Dan’s passion for painting and detailing miniature farm machinery fills his spare time. It began with a battered toy tractor he had as a child and a suggestion from his wife, Angie, to find a hobby that would keep him busy and give him a breather after a long day’s work as an air conditioning and heating installer.

“There used to be a Minneapolis-Moline dealer in town that my dad worked for when he was 18 or 19, so that piece has sentimental value,” he says, eyeing his collection. “Some of these were toys my brother and I had when we were younger. The paint was chipped, and they were all beat up. I decided to restore them and add all the details.”

Before finding that there were other toy-tractor enthusiasts in the area, Dan kept his hobby to himself, thinking it was nothing of consequence. “I had a large collection and I found some guys that do custom detailing kind of like this, so I started doing this about four years ago,” he says. “I’ve just gone from there. Even my parents said they didn’t think this would turn into this big a hobby.”       

Small-scale workshop
The Seversons’ dining room has become a regular repair and restoration shop, as well as an original tractor body shop. With Internet connections made to other toy builders, Dan has begun perfecting details on even the most abused and resurrected toys, and making his own toys of styrene plastic.