Mid Canterbury farmer Anthony Hampton has built up a collection of 50 tractors. Most of them are vintage and one colour, writes Allied Press reporter Tim Cronshaw.
Red’s the colour of choice on Anthony Hampton’s farm.
With the exception of a smattering of grey, green and a bit of yellow trim, red is the livery of his large ‘‘Massey’’ tractor collection.
The grey were Ferguson tractors produced in post-war England before they too evolved to red when merged into the Massey production line.
Canadian-owned Massey Harris took over Ferguson in 1953, and until 1958 it was called Massey Harris Ferguson, before becoming Massey Ferguson.
‘‘Massey Harris was always red,‘‘ Anthony says, ‘‘Well, right from the start they were green, and then they went to the red and yellow colour scheme so that’s what the bulk of the models are — red and yellow. And then of course Ferguson being part of the family, I’ve got a few of those.’’
The Lauriston-Barrhill grain and seed farmer spends most of his spare time restoring vintage tractors.
Meticulously rebuilding a 1936 Massey Harris Pacemaker took five years. This was combined from two frames brought home in a jumble of parts in the late 1980s on a trailer from a dairy farm near Leeston.
‘‘I worked on it on and off, not solid, rebuilding it into a tractor. It was a lot of work and of course it’s only a hobby so you have to do the work that pays the bills first. There’s not a lot of time during harvest so a lot of it is done at night. I go out after tea and that’s what I do — I’m not one to sit in a chair and this is my time out.’’
A four-wheel-drive Massey Harris dates back to 1931, and has two fuel tanks as it starts on petrol and runs on kerosene.
Next to this is his oldest tractor, a 1928 Wallis 12-20, with steel-spoked wheels and spade lugs at the rear. There’s probably only a handful left in New Zealand.
‘‘The ones I know of there’s not many at all. Whether there’s more in the back of sheds I don’t know. There are not very many of them and not many Pacemakers either.’’
Mr Hampton has virtually every type of Massey Harris brought into New Zealand and has been known to bring the odd one over from the United States.
Some people play golf, breed dogs or watch television, but he prefers to work on tractors.
When his first Pacemaker arrived, he had only two or three tractors, but ‘‘iron disease’’ soon took a grip. He quips there is no known cure.
‘‘I’ve always liked machinery, always liked working on it, and repairing things. Probably about 30 years ago I started on the Massey Harris. I didn’t have a hobby and nobody wanted some of these old things. Some people said ‘just take them away’. They wanted rid of them way back then. I just thought that would be a challenge to try and get them going again.’’
Homed inside a large shed are about 30 immaculate vintage tractors in neat rows. Another five to 10 are in the project shed and there are a dozen red working tractors.
The oldest of his five grey Fergusons is 1947. They were first produced in England’s Coventry in 1946, arriving a year later in New Zealand, through to 1954.
One of them is a converted TEA with a single wheel in the front and its rear wheel axle narrowed for vegetable growing in Christchurch’s Harewood.
Another TEA is a difficult-tofind vineyard model.
Not in his collection is a Ferguson Brown, the first Ferguson tractor ever produced. Mr Hampton favours Massey Harris, but rates the ‘‘Fergies’’ highly. They only had a smaller sized tractor, but were so reliable that many have survived. He is working on a Massey Harris Mustang, complete except for the motor and he has had to order parts from the US.
Also in the workshop is a Massey Harris 102 Senior, stripped down to newly painted chassis.
~ Tim Cronshaw, Central Rural Life