What the heck is a hedgerow tractor?

Reader Contribution by Staff

I have a confession. I grew up in the city. And while my knowledge of farm life and old iron has expanded in my few months as an assistant editor at Farm Collector, there are still some things I just don’t know or understand about life on the farm.

Specifically, there are a lot of terms that get used without much explanation about what they mean, and the answer isn’t as obvious as it seems. One I’ve encountered quite a bit in the past month is hedgerow tractor. I’d gathered from context that hedgerow tractors are in pretty bad condition, but they are often good for restoration projects. And I know what a hedgerow is – a series of hedges used to form a boundary or fence line that tends to be overgrown – so I assumed that a hedgerow tractor was used to remove the hedgerow or try to maintain it, which led to the tractor’s subpar condition.

But we all know what they say about assuming … so I went to the best expert I know, Farm Collector editor Leslie McManus, who clarified for me.

“Farmers historically were reluctant to throw anything away, even if it didn’t work anymore. So to get it out of the way, they’d park it in the hedgerow – where it was often abandoned for decades, which almost always caused further deterioration. So, hedgerow tractor is a term for a tractor that is complete, or close to it, but very rough cosmetically and often mechanically.”

So it turns out, I was completely wrong. But now I know that hedgerows are great places to find complete tractors, ripe for restoration. For proof, look no further than these articles I found in the archives of Steam Traction and Farm Collector.

1934 Plymouth Tractor Gets Loving Restoration
Woodbury Steam Engine Restoration Project
Easy Recovery for Overgrown VAC Case

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines