Letter to the Editor

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Since we can't vouch for the veracity of the following prose, we pass it along without comment-other than caveat emptor.-Editor.

Dear Editor:

Although totally unfamiliar with your publication, we write in hopes that your readers might enjoy hearing about some tractors we discovered in a garage just recently. (We admit to puzzlement regarding your readership, however-GEM would seem more appropriate to rock hounds. Perhaps you should change it to 'Tractors and Related Internal Combustion Kinetic Energy Machines.' That would be closer to the subject).

Anyway, maybe somebody will want to share information with us, as it seems hard to come by on these particular outfits. We've enclosed a few photos; if the machines turn out to be as rare as we suspect, you'll probably want to show them in your club paper, or whatever it is you publish there.

The tractors are 'as found' in the photos. One looks quite weathered and considerably used, while the other two are in amazingly good condition. The fellow who owns the garage let us dust them off and wash them up a bit for the pictures. They all run, with more or less effort in supplying various fuels, coolants, and lubricants. Since we're somewhat mechanically inclined, and the machines are so straightforward in design, we had no trouble getting them out into the sunlight for a few trial spins around the property.

The present owner says that as far as he knows, the machines were always inside the garage. They were first noticed when the original owner ran into them parking his car there. Other than that, he couldn't seem to tell us any more about them. (He couldn't seem to tell us much about anything else, either, although he remained cordial in a confusing, crisply out-of-focus sort of way.)

Since we know little about the subject of farm machinery, except that some people are interested in saving antique examples, we visited a local John Deere dealership to see what the folks there might be able to tell us. We ended up talking to an old-timer in the parts department who expressed an interest in seeing the tractors and who subsequently advised us to write to you (he subscribes to your paper, and gave us the address).

Well, we got permission to show him through the garage, and he seemed very enthusiastic, although somewhat puzzled-said he'd never seen the likes of them before and thought we should try to authenticate the 'find.' So what follows is a condensation of a reply to us from Dr. Thomas Phoolery, Ed. D., head researcher at the Tractor-Related Archives, Smithsonian Historium:

'The green one is a John Deere-/Farmall F-3-E; the red one is a Fair-Mor/Farmall F-3-Z; and the big, rusty one is a McCormick-Deering/Farmall F-6-M.

'The chassis were supplied by the McCormick-Deering division of International Harvester without engines (I assume because they were either missing or had been freeze-cracked in so many places they were beyond repair-the manifolds were rusted completely away, magnetos and many other peripherals missing, and so forth. Not to mention that the frames were undoubtedly broken, wheels rotted through from water-filled tubes and from sitting for years rim-deep in mud, spokes bent and broken, rims run flat and smashed square, radiators scrapped somewhere in the distant past, brakes rusted solid within the drums, etc.)

'The engines were supplied by McCormick-Deering, Fairbanks-Morse, and John Deere companies, although it's difficult for me to understand why they would want to have anything to do with these tractors.

'Then the components were apparently assembled by some crackpots who have weird ideas about what to do with their spare time and who either have a hard time getting a story straight or who just enjoy a good yarn.'

Dr. Phoolery declined further comment, stating that he suspects somebody is pulling someone's leg somewhere, but he did say that the outfits were probably one-of-a-kind. We feel, therefore, that they are very rare and we're willing to act as agents for the owner-if someone wants to tender an offer in the high millions.

So there you have it. We certainly hope this is just the kind of stuff you like to print in your paper, and if you don't want to send us hundreds of dollars for the story, you can go ahead and print it for free. Just don't forget the paragraph about how we can probably obtain these rare items for somebody who reads Gas and Gem Magazine, or whatever you call it. Thanks.

Byron Bronk, 601 North 1300 West, Provo, Utah 84601 (who is a writer-editor with Brigham Young University publications), and his friends Ferry Blackburn (an ace mechanic /machinist who is equipment maintenance technician for the BYU Spanish Fork Agriculture Station) and Brent Burch (a graphic designer for BYU publications) are responsible for the above bit of humor. They tell us that these tractors actually perform very well: 'Just to see what it would do, Ferry put his full-size Chevy pickup in gear, locked the parking brake, and hooked up the 3 HP John Deere rig to it-it dragged that truck down his drive way effortlessly, retaining nearly the same low Kit-to-miss ratio as when unloaded. We were surprised, but we suppose the Farmall transmission/belt pulley gearing has a lot to do with it.' Thanks for a good laugh, fellas.