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wheels close together, and you could cultivate corn. That’s what the term ‘Farmall’ means. You could do all your farming with this tractor.”
Farmers could use their tractors to plow, cultivate corn and even operate a thrash machine. So as John grew up, horses dwindled in number and then, by the late 1960s, disappeared altogether.
Presently, tractors operate with computer technology and have such options as autosteering. Will these models ever reach the loving hands of restoration when they’ve become outdated?
“Absolutely not,” said John, who pointed out that the purchase price itself would be prohibitive, not to mention how difficult it would be to fix that kind of vehicle, considering the need to tackle complicated computer technology.
“People probably won’t collect past the ‘90s,” he said.
But John isn’t worried about running out of collectibles. Since he has always been interested in iron wheel tractors, for the past 40 years, whenever he runs into a toy model, he purchases that, too. At first, he had no intentions of collecting them, but as time went on, the number kept increasing.
“Whenever I see an iron wheel toy tractor, if I have money in my wallet, I buy it,” he said.
John ended up with about 150 iron wheel models in his collection.
But iron wheels aside, after 40 years of collecting, John now has 200 toy models in all on a 1/16th scale, the common size, 57 larger 1/8th scale toys, and 35 pedal combines and tractors. Many of them were purchased from a company in Dyersville, Iowa, called Scale Model Toys. Because restored tractors demand a lot
of space, John has decided to direct his creativity to building 1/8th scale vintage models, and he tackled his first one last winter.
“I’m running out of shed room, and I don’t want to build anymore sheds,” said John, “but I like to make things. These won’t take a lot of room.”
Not as much as their real counterparts, anyway, but these models are large in their own rite, 17 to 20 pounds each. But unlike his restored tractors, he can display them on custom-designed shelves.
So with all his projects, what does he enjoy doing best?
“I guess whatever needs to be done next,” he said.
John’s tractors and toys have been photographed and featured in many different publications, including a book, “Farmall Tractors”; a national magazine, The Toy Farmer; the newspaper Country Today; and various calendars.
For a person who never intended to be a collector, John’s hobby has mushroomed into quite an elaborate operation. So what does he get out of it?
“I always liked tractors. And I’ve met a lot of nice people through the toy and tractor hobby,” he said, going on to talk about how, having grown up on a farm, tractors had always been a part of his life.
“It’s my way of farming without farming.”