REFLECTION

A Brief Word


| April/May 1996



Wizard engine

31/4/14A

Dean Axtell

After heavy snow and record-breaking cold weather, there are few of us 'northerners' who don't look forward to Spring! While it's nice to snuggle up in a comfortable chair with a good book (an engine book, of course) while the snow falls and the wind blows, it's not nearly so much fun when it comes to shoveling out! For ye olde Reflector, Spring is the great reward for having suffered through Winter!

By the time this copy is in your hands sometime in March, a bit of outdoor activity will again resume, even for those of us in the snow belt. One time in the 1970s we even put in our small oats crop on March 19th. A few days later it snowed, but that didn't last long; those were the best oats we ever had. Too bad we weren't still threshing, because that crop would have been pure pleasure to put through the threshing machine.

Over the past few years we've noticed that more and more people are beginning to collect old farm implements. Unfortunately, the crop is rather small, since the big majority of them have long ago been cut up for scrap. I he big changes in farming over the past few years have eliminated a great many of the small farms, with entire farmsteads disappearing, and being replaced with open crop land. At the same time, any old implements still remaining have gone to scrap. At our farm, we torched numerous old plows, cultivators, and other implements in years gone by.

Although farm implement collecting may never attain the status of tractor and engine collections, we believe that within the next few years farm implement collecting will become very popular. And why not? We already collect everything from cream separators to meat grinders, so why not farm implements?

Isn't it interesting that in all of recorded history, the half century from 1870 to 1920 saw the most dramatic changes in all time? In 1870 there was no electricity, no running water, no tractor power, no automobiles, and very few farm implements. For instance, there were no corn planters, very few disc harrows, and few corn shelters. For the average farmer, his complete tool and implement repertoire would fit in a rather small shed. By 1900, many farms had begun the trek toward mechanization, and by 1920, virtually all American farms were mechanized to some degree. Thus, we view this period as the Golden Age of invention, and it's this time in history we're all trying to preserve. Our hobby of collecting old engines, tractors, and implements is unique in that we number into the thousands, each having our own specialties, and each being able to find artifacts worth preserving. So, we're on the cutting edge, even though a lot of folks haven't yet and perhaps never will understand why on earth anyone would spend hours and hours putzing with an old engine, trying to bring it back to life, or carefully cleaning and restoring an ancient corn Sheller that probably endured far more abuse in its life than in actual use as a corn Sheller. (Those old spring shelters are excellent to hull black walnuts, and then, an old Maytag washing machine is ideal to clean 'em up.) Moral of the story: Whatever we've got today, those developments of a century ago are the ground- breaking events that made it all happen. Our queries this month begin with:

31/4/1 'The Tractor Show' On Thursday January 19, 1996 'The Tractor Show' will debut at 9:30 EST, on T302, transponder TBA. It will be an hour-long weekly, live show dealing with classic farm equipment. This program will invite viewers to call in and talk on air live, as well as interviews, on location and in the studio.