Kiron Man Is Metal Craftsman

By Staff
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Wilbur Anderson shows off his most intricate model yet, a replica of a John Deere
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The 3-bottom plow made to go with Wilbur Anderson's John Deere tractor. Each piece of the 1/8' scale model is made of scrap metal. The tractor comes complete with moving gears and spark plugs.

The following article is reprinted with permission from the
Denison, Iowa Review. Wilbur Anderson lives at RR, Kiron, Iowa

When Wilbur Anderson was a boy of 10 he began making
models-rough, unfinished airplanes made of old pieces of wood and
nails. Now, almost 60 years later, he is still making models but
they are a far cry from the crude figurines of before.

The retired Kiron man’s latest project is an almost perfect
one-eighth scale replica of an old, iron-wheeled John Deere
tractor. Anderson made all the parts himself. Each and every piece
was hand-molded and not content to work with easily carved wood,
the entire tractor is made out of metal.

‘Wood would be easier in some ways but I’ve always liked
lathes and metal working tools. I just prefer working with
metal,’ he said.

Originally, the idea was to make the tractor work. A former
mechanic, Anderson knows enough about the inner workings of a
tractor to make a running model. But the small size defeated him
when it came to making a carburetor.

The idea for the project was born when he saw a picture of one
of the old models in a magazine. His homemade machines including a
drill press, a grinder and a welder were fit for the job, but first
he drew plans on graph paper.

‘I traced off the picture when I decided I wanted to make a
model. I figured out the size I wanted to make and had it
enlarged,’ he said. He then had to figure out what size the
inside parts should be.

Every detail is perfect: The moving gears work together, the
steering is connected to a drive shaft that turns the wheels, tiny
spark plugs and a radiator core made out of ball pens. When he
finished the parts, he even painted the model the traditional John
Deere green.

Anderson used scrap metal from wherever he could find it and his
tools, a lathe, scraper, drilling machine, grinder and welder. He
and his wife have a scrapbook of pictures showing the process of
building and some of the simpler models he had made before. They
also have proof that his fascination for machines began at a young
age-an old photograph shows a two-or-three year old Anderson with
an old piece of farm machinery.

It took Anderson a year and a half from when he began the model
on paper until the painting was done but he has no idea how many
hours he actually spent on the project. ‘I don’t keep track
of time with a hobby because then it becomes work,’ he

Anderson is now retired from 25 years with the telephone
company. Before that he worked in a garage but he was never trained
to work with metal. He just developed his talent over years of
working with his hobby. He still has a replica of a steam engine he
made almost 50 years ago.

Although he has tried other hobbies over the years, he is now
content with his metal models. However he said, ‘It does take a
lot of thought before you just start building something’. He
added, ‘Sometimes it takes three or four tries before a piece
will turn out.’

The tractor is not exactly as he envisioned it because it does
not run. He thinks that someday he may make a bigger one that he
can fix a caburetor into. But he does feel a sense of
accomplishment now that it is finished, and is proud of his

‘I think someone would be willing to buy it, but I don’t
care to sell it,’ he said.

Meanwhile, he is still busy making a three-bottom plow to go
with the tractor.

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