For the Love of Rusty Old Tractors

Variety is the spice of life, and this applies to old tractors as well.


| March 2017



massey ferguson 135

This Massey Ferguson 135 has crossed the line from unrestored to neglected and is ripe for restoration.

Photo by Josephine Roberts

There are still plenty of unrestored tractors to see here in Wales. Are they neglected old workhorses, or beautiful works of art? It’s all a matter of taste.

I notice as I leaf through Farm Collector magazine that most of the tractors featured in these pages are beautifully restored to look just as they did on the day they came out of the factory. These gleaming pieces of engineering take us back to the day when these tractors were brand new and current, and the results of these painstaking restorations also showcase the amazing skills of enthusiastic restorers and owners. Restoring an old wreck and transforming it into a sparkling, smooth-running showpiece is like bringing something back from the dead. It must be an amazing feeling to bring about such a transformation. The results must be an enormous source of pride to the restorers, and to their families too.

Thorough restorers must give a sigh of blissful satisfaction when, having completed a restoration, they are confident of having preserved the tractor for another few decades and the next generation. We are only custodians of these beautiful machines, keeping them safe for our children and grandchildren, because “they ain’t making any more of them,” as they say. Without our conscientious restorers, we would have lost a huge number of our historic tractors to the scrap man. I have every admiration for anyone who has the skills and dedication to save our old relics and preserve them for the future.

Variety is the spice of life

However, a tireless restorer I am not. Quality restorations are beyond me and my humble abilities. I feel that unless one is going to do a really good job on a cosmetic restoration, then the best bet is to leave well enough alone and not attempt to restore but simply to aim to preserve.

I have a tractor (a 1953 David Brown) that is, to put it honestly, downright scruffy and almost devoid of the bright red paint that it would have worn when new. Initially I didn’t repaint this tractor because I knew I couldn’t do it justice. I’m what we call here “cack handed” with a paintbrush, and downright impatient with sandpaper, and I knew full well that I couldn’t afford to pay an expert to do the job for me, so it was left as it was.

But over the years I’ve begun to feel glad that I never repainted this tractor. I’ve come to really love its warm and weathered look. Also, it’s a look that has gained a bit of popularity in recent years. Not that I’m one to follow fashion of course, but it’s always nice to discover that by doing nothing at all, you have inadvertently attained the height of fashion.