Between the Bookends

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Tis (almost) the season to be jolly. Whether
you’re looking to expand your library, or considering gift ideas
for the vintage iron enthusiast on your list, check out these

A stocking stuffer it’s not: Weighing in
somewhere over 6 pounds, Farmall: Eight Decades of
by Randy Leffingwell would pull the mantle right
off the wall. But if you’re looking to settle in for a long
winter’s night with a beautifully photographed, carefully
researched tractor book, this one should be at the top of your

The story of “the big red tractor” began well before the color
red became linked to the Farmall name. Leffingwell starts his tale
with the 1902 McCormick-Deering merger and is off and running
through years of an uneasy marriage of two organizations,
technological advances and early marketing wizardry. Indeed, the
influence of internal sales and marketing forces on Farmall’s
fortunes will likely surprise you.

Historical context is nicely woven into the tale (Did you know
the U.S. Department of Agriculture was created by Abraham
Lincoln?), and Leffingwell does a superb job of lending meaning to
facts and figures by providing contemporary equivalents.

From the days when Farmall went head to head with Henry Ford, to
the era when it was swallowed by a competitor, to 2004, when Case
New Holland agricultural operations reintroduced the Farmall name,
Leffingwell weaves a complex story of agricultural manufacturing in
a golden age. A solid addition to your library.

Farmall: Eight Decades of Innovation, by
Randy Leffingwell, published by MBI; ISBN 978-0-7603-2136-2; hard
cover, 352 pages with black-and-white and color photographs. $50.
Available through Farm Collector Books, see pages 48-49 for
ordering information

Thinking about restoring a tractor, but have no
experience in that area? Forget those scientific-sounding manuals …
turn to Roger Welsch, who might just as well be the guy next door.
In his latest release, From Tinkering to Torquing: A Beginner’s
Guide to Tractors and Tools
, Welsch demonstrates he is more
than just another pretty face in the vintage iron community.
Perhaps best known for his humorous takes on the antique iron
hobby, Welsch lays out the nuts and bolts of tractor restoration in
this new release with a humility rarely seen in “how to”

As Dave Mowitz, editor at Successful Farming magazine
notes in his foreword to Welsch’s book, “almost anyone with the
knowledge can give clear verbal directions on how, for example, to
adjust a carburetor. But will the directions from an expert be
clear enough for the beginner to understand? And interesting enough
to listen to?”

Welsch scores on both points. On starting a tractor with a
compression relief valve, for instance: “Every time I start Linda’s
John Deere B with the compression relief valves open, raw gas is
blown up my sleeve. If you can tell an Allis-Chalmers WC man by the
way he holds a book he is reading off to his left, you can spot a
John Deere B man because his left arm or leg always reeks of
gasoline. Who thought this system up, anyway?”

Frustrated by a project? Let Welsch remind you of why you’re a
rusty iron fan: for the fun of it.

From Tinkering to Torquing: A
Beginner’s Guide to Tractors and Tools, by Roger
Welsch, published by MBI; ISBN 978-0-7603-2082-2; hard cover, 224
pages. $21.95. Available through Farm Collector Books, see pages
48-49 for ordering information

In the depths of winter, a good video is as
close as you’re likely to get to a tractor show. A pair produced by
Iron Classics will transport you in a heartbeat to two American
classics: The Midwest Old Threshers Reunion at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa,
and the Rough and Tumble Engineers Reunion at Kinzers, Pa.

The Mt. Pleasant video concentrates heavily on the tractor
parade (which also includes classic automobiles), with brief
detours to the MOTR railroad, horse parade and tractor pull. The
Rough and Tumble counterpart is more diverse, with in-depth
coverage of Waterloo Boy, Cockshutt and Silver King tractors, as
well as a threshing demonstration, incredible scale models of
vintage farm equipment, the Shay railroad, antique fire engines and
an onsite stationary steam exhibit.

Both shows are giants in the world of antique farm equipment,
and you’d need a 10-video set to capture the essence of either.
Iron Classics has done a super job of skimming the surface.

America’s Tractor Show Classics: Midwest Threshers
50th Reunion at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
, produced by Iron
Classics™; America’s Tractor Show Classics: 55th Annual
Reunion, Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association,
Kinzers, Pa
., produced by Iron Classics™; available on VHS
video and DVD; to order, call toll free (888) 560-9980 or shop
online at

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment