By Staff
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301 Jefferson Lane Ukiah, CA 95482

As time passed and the engines began accumulating at a slow but
steady rate, I realized that this ‘gas engine bug’ was more
serious than it first appeared. As the symptoms progressed, I
wondered ‘what could he possibly want next?’ I soon found

It started out innocently enough. ‘Honey, see this picture
in GEM of a Fairbanks-Morse? It’s just like mine, a real
beauty. Oh, and look at this nice little tractor next to it.’
Then a week or two goes by and he starts remembering driving a
tractor on Grandpa’s ranch in Colorado, or the Fordson that
Uncle Howard had on the farm in Nebraska. If you ignore these early
signs of the ‘I want a tractor’ virus, you could be in
trouble. It’s best to face it head-on.

Our house already had some engines here and a few over there,
with a couple of more out back, and one or two at a friend’s
house. So where is he going to put a tractor? I made it clear that
my car sleeps in the garage and would continue to do so! So, out he
went looking for a place to park a tractor, returning with a smile
that I’ll never forget.

‘If it’s four and a half feet wide, nine feet long and
no more than seventy inches high, a tractor will fit in the corner
of the garage, under the cupboards and still give you plenty of
room to park your car!’ 

As he went on about the joys of owning a tractor, I found myself
feeling lucky we didn’t have a barn.

Two months later some pictures arrived from Gil Easter, a
collector and friend in a nearby town. Gil had been looking for a
Farmall Cub or a John Deere L for Joe without any luck, but
wondered if ‘we’ were interested in his Earthmaster? An
Earthmaster! Sounded like some thing you would build a highway
with, instead of a small tractor! Then I looked at the pictures:
big name- little tractor, not ferocious at all.

My husband, romantic that he is, would fall in love with a rock
if it was unusual or had a low serial number. The I.D. number on
the Earthmaster is #CH-119. The tractor arrived a week later, and
for the next six months, Joe was either buying bearings or paint,
at Tom Blackburn’s using his sandblaster, or in the garage.
This was more than a hobby-this was a commitment. Every part was
cleaned, sandblasted, primed and painted.

My car kept sleeping in the garage. I even let Joe keep his
mounted new tires on repainted wheels in the house for a couple of
weeks while waiting for parts for the transmission and reduction
assemblies, whatever they are. This moment of weakness made some of
our friends question my sanity.

Finally, the big evening came! Joe had three friends come over
to help- Bill Smith, a truck mechanic; John Toth, a mechanic; and
Tom Black burn, master doodler, who grew up in his dad’s small
engine shop. By nine o’clock that night, they were out driving
the Earthmaster up and down the streets-in the rain! Neighbors, who
had watched the slow but steady progress, were flipping their porch
lights on and off, and shouting congratulations as the tractor shot
through the rain at speeds up to six m.p.h. It was a long awaited
night-a release of energy after all of those months of skinned

Was it worth it? Now we live on five acres and actually use the
tractor. I’ve even been known to drive it a time or two, and
our five-year-old son, Jake, drives it out to the mailbox. In many
ways the Earthmaster has been good for all of us!

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