Searching For Iron In The 'Third World

| December/January 1997

1764 South River Road Autryville, North Carolina 28318

Once again, I was fortunate to travel back to the land of undiscovered iron for just over two months. This time my travels took me to the newly democratic country of Mozambique. On this particular trip, I was allowed the blessing of having quite open access to the city and rural areas of the country plus the benefit of having a country contact who is very sympathetic to my 'cause' to rescue and restore old iron.

My first spot was that of a John Deere(!) tractor in downtown Maputo, the capitol city. It was located on Avenida De Fuerces Popular Liberacion De Mozambique. Although I was able to receive permission from the owner to take pictures of the tractor itself, he would not allow any pictures of himself to be taken. After twenty years of communist tyranny, I would be nervous about my picture being taken also. Nevertheless, I am not a John Deere collector and I would not want to embarrass myself on its model name. Can anyone identify and tell me where the serial numbers are and how much it weighs? I will retrieve the serials on a future trip. The owner did escort me around his building. There was a pile of old implements there also. Since the average farmer in Mozambique still uses animal power they are still widely available. Are any of these collectable? He did indicate that they are for sale, although he was adamant about the tractor not going anywhere.

My second find was on the main highway linking Maputo with Matola (a suburb) and several miles down the road, of South Africa and Swaziland. I am not sure of the type or manufacturer of this unit. I believe it to be a pump or pump/engine combination. The placard riveted to it basically says that it was used for bringing water to the interior of the land. The local people obviously do not see many foreigners taking pictures of this pump, since quite a gathering occurred as I laid on the ground trying to get a good angle. I was happy to get the picture and the good people of Mozambique had quite a laugh seeing the American contort himself in the dirt.

On the road to Boane, I found an old iron graveyard. There were quite a few different types of machines there to be found. I recovered a nameplate from a twisted hulk of a Soviet who-knows-what. ( I would not have removed this item if the machine had been in any semblance of restorable shape. The nameplate was literally the only item not scavenged from the remains.) I also found the remains of a Caterpillar bulldozer. This picture was taken with much trepidation as an active minefield was located about 150 yards away although my guide did insist it was safe. About a half mile away, another unidentified tractor was found later that day. It was safely located in a farm field. The major crops in this area are corn, beans, and tapioca. Can anyone identify the tractor?

The best find was that of a Deutz diesel engine of about 5 horsepower. I often read articles in GEM that people get telephone calls or just drive down the road and wham there's iron to be had. I always thought that it couldn't happen to me, but I am now of the belief that it will happen to all of us at least once. The engine is located in Maputo not far from the Presidential Palace. (Please all you fellow collectors don't get this engine before I do!) The engine used to run a generator for one of the local businesses there until central power was established several years ago. I plan to try and find the generator also. I will be negotiating with the owner later this year for its purchase. After consulting with my 'little blue book' of friends and contacts, I have a way to get it home that shouldn't break me. With luck, maybe we will see a future article on its restoration.


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