Past comes back to life

02:09, Jan 16 2014
bill weir
Bill Weir aboard the 1945 Farmall H.
bill weir
Bill Weir aboard the 1945 Farmall H.
bill weir
The 1954 and 1962 models.
bill weir
The 1952 model.
bill weir
The 1945 Farmall H.
bill weir
Bill still uses the tractors for work about the farm.
bill weir
The thermostat.

It all started in the early 1950s.

Bill Weir's dad bought the dairy farm in early 1952. Then came the farm machinery - in particular the tractors.

They all came from United States agricultural machinery specialists, the International Harvester Company.

Bill was still at school when the family moved to the farm. His older brother helped their father on the property as a young Bill looked on at the machines.

Bill eventually took over the operation. It was about 15 years ago when he started "reliving his youth".

He went out and started collecting them and they have been good back up tractors to the modern fleet he has now. He found a 1954 BMD diesel, 55 horsepower built in Doncaster, England on a farm in Wanaka.


"We brought it back here and got it working."

The motor has been rebuilt. Another find was the BD 264 diesel, four cylinder with 55 horsepower, built in 1962. It was built for row crop work with adjustable axles at the rear for corn planting and vegetable planting, Bill says.

We wander over to another shed. All the tractors are kept under shelter.

Another in his collection is a 1962 504 diesel - 260 cubic inch developing 58 horsepower with five speed and a two speed split going to 10 gears. Bill knows all the specs for his machines.

That one's awaiting restoration.

There's also a 1952 model, 10 horsepower, four cylinder petrol engine with three speed transmission and a central mounted hydraulic system for row crops

His pride and joy is the Farmall H built in 1945. It's been fully restored - 32 horsepower, four cylinder, five speed transmission.

"These models (had) probably the largest run with production between 1939 and 1955," Bill says.

"It suited the mid-size American farm of the day. It's what you grow up with; when I was a kid these were the machines we used. It's the reason why most people collect things; it's what they used to have."

His wife Shona says she is happy to leave Bill to deal with the tractors. She likes the cars.

Bill says he stayed with International Harvester Company tractors because they are open top. "They are great fun to drive. They are a well built product too.

"You've got to be practical and be able to fix mechanical defects. Most farmers do the basics themselves. It's not something we collect for the sake of collecting; it's part of our heritage."

South Canterbury