Jim Fetty, of North Jackson, Ohio, who started collecting and restoring antique tractors five years ago at age 13, now has a total of 13-11 John Deere and two Case.
Jim's story was recently told in Farm and Dairy Weekly, published at Salem, Ohio, which granted us permission to quote. The way he started is picturesquely related by Judy C. Wolford:
'The very first tractor came from the woods on his uncle's farm. The uncle's father had torn the tractor apart, but before he could get the tractor back together, he died and the tractor continued to sit in the woods. After many years, the woods grew up around the tractor and its parts.
'To get the tractor back to the Fetty residence, many of the tractor parts had to be dug up as they had been covered over. A tree had grown through the radiator. But finally the tractor and its parts made it to the Fetty home. The parts and tractor were cleaned up and then rebuilt. The radiator with the tree growing through it was also repaired and is still in the tractor today.'
Jim, now a seasoned restorationist, estimates that a tractor 'in really bad shape' costs about $300 these days-and that's the kind he likes to find.
He starts from scratch, taking off all removable parts. Then he repairs all parts, replaces any that are missing, and proceeds with total restoration. He estimates one winter, while going to school, was needed to redo each tractor.
He repaints the John Deere tractors in Deere color, and spends part of each summer exhibiting at fairs and shows. He has been a regular exhibitor at the Canfield Fair since he started. He began by hauling water and cutting wood for the steam engine exhibit with his tractor.
He held the distinction of being the youngest member of the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Association. He has also won two awards for ag mechanic work at the Joint Vocational School and two for welding at Jackson-Milton High School.
The family travels to Medina, Cortland, Kirtland, Dover and LaGrange for Ohio shows, and exhibit at Hookstown, Meadville, Clintonville and Porterville, and at Portland, Indiana, their biggest event.
Jim uses a 1953 Chevrolet truck, painted Deere green, to haul his tractors on a flatbed. He would like to find a 1960 Deere diesel 830 to pull with.
You might think he spends all his time looking for ancient tractors and restoring them, but he does have a job-as a painter of school buses and dump trucks for Myers Equipment Co.
He has this poem framed:
Bring along those heavy loads that other tractors fear:
And I will show you how to pull it
with a smile and an Old John Deere
and after I have convinced you,
you will be asking me to tell
why the Old John Deere is still pulling
and the rest are Shot to Hell!
The article and photo were sent to us by Jim's mother, Mrs. William Fetty, who notes that he has been a GEM subscriber for five years. She adds: 'He and his Dad wait for it to come and read it from cover to cover.'