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Model A farming plant - is there anything like this?

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  • Model A farming plant - is there anything like this?

    Over the past couple of weeks, I've been involved in preparations for a clearing sale on a farm that belonged to two bachelor brothers. The last of the brothers passed away about 18 months ago. Both were well into their 80s when they died. What is unique about these blokes is that they farmed in some kind of time warp for almost all of their lives.
    • Their daily transport ("going to town" car) was a '28 Phaeton with over 250,000 miles on the clock. Up until about maybe 8 years ago, I used to see this car weekly when one of them came into town to shop at the supermarket near my workplace.
    • Their tractor was home-built, based on a Model A married to rear end parts from a bren gun carrier (so I'm told - I wouldn't know one to look at). The tractor had a crane, a 240v generator and a PTO. It was used for most jobs around the farm, but was also road registered. I believe it was built sometime after WW2 "because our horse died"! I used to see this unit occasionally coming into the local saleyards, towing a tandem trailer with calves for sale. In more recent years, a little grey Fergie tractor was added to the fleet, the only non-Model A vehicle in operation in their last years.
    • Another Model A, converted into a tray truck, was used to cart milk cans to the local depot in the years before the tanker picked up their bulk milk directly from the vat in the dairy (mind you, they only milked about 20 cows).
    • Finally, there was an AA tray truck with a fertiliser spreader mounted on the back. The trucks have been unused for some time and we had to drag the AA out, barn find style.
    The estate will become a philanthropic trust. My local (all makes) club is working with the executors/administrators to preserve some of the vehicles as a curated display that will be accessible to the public. The brothers were innovative and apparently make regular trips to the local tip (dump) to salvage anything of value that could be re-purposed on the farm. This apparently included a whole 1950s Ford truck! We are also preserving some key items from their workshop (which included a hand drive drill press), and a small shed and workbench for a contextual setting, to illustrate the innovation that they displayed in making everything that they could. Their farm was small by today's standards, but the brothers lived a simple and low cost life. For instance, holidays were unheard of. One of the brothers was quoted as saying he'd been to Melbourne (our state capital, about 170 miles away) only twice in his life, and one of those times was for heart surgery.

    Many of the farm buildings that we are emptying out are in advanced stages of decay, but all are revealing Model A parts and even the occasional bit of N.O.S. wrapped in greased paper. The house blurs the line between home and workshop. Small car parts and being pulled out of various rooms, and there is an electric drill press in one room!

    Why am I telling you this? I've been a Model A fan since I was a little boy who watched in awe as one came down our street every morning (in the 60s). Finally got my own 4-5 years ago. But I've never seen anything like this. I feel quite privileged to be part of this process, and wanted to share the joy of the experience. I reckon you guys might feel much the same as me, just reading this.

    If it wasn't for a few of us "A" guys working with the rest of the cleanup crew, a lot of the parts would not have been recognised in the cleanup, and would have ended up coming back to us as a Hyundai or some such! Some will still go this way as they are too far gone to be useful.

    Enjoy the photos.
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    This gallery has 10 photos.
    Last edited by Hoogah; 01-19-2019, 07:28 AM.

  • #2
    You lucky bastard! I'd love to be involved with that estate cleanup.
    Love the pictures, thanks for posting. . Jeff
    Twiss Collector Car Parts


    • Hoogah
      Hoogah commented
      Editing a comment
      Wow, Jeff, that's almost an Aussie retort!

  • #3
    Thanks for sharing the info/story and pictures. I like the old tractor/implement seat, the rear view mirror from who knows what, and what looks like a tractor exhaust (could just be homemade out of misc. parts).


    • #4
      Hoogah, you are a lucky guy to take part in that "cleanup" or should it be called "re purposing" of parts and stuff, there are some real treasures to be found there. The closest I ever got to this was helping my Mother clean out her Uncle's house, he was 93 when he died (some time back, maybe 20 years ago), a WW1 vet and a hoarder, never thru away anything, had a 27 dodge touring car in his garage that he oiled twice a year with 30W motor oil to keep it from rusting. Among the trash (2 - 40 yard dump trucks were used to cart the stuff away) were some real treasures so ya gotta look closely. - "a little grey Fergie tractor was added to the fleet you said being the only non ford item", some if not all of these were made in England and some were Ford-Ferguson , Ferguson being the inventor of the 3 point hitch system used on a Ford Tractor, these were great small tractors, so technically that would make it a Ford item. They had a little ford motor on them that may have been a Model T engine. My neighbor had one of these and it was almost identical to my Ford 9N at the time. I am sure there are some guys on here that could tell you more about these tractors then me. More can be seen about the 3 point implement lifting system invented by Ferguson which revolutionized farming at the below link.
      “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” (Will Rogers).


      • tbirdtbird
        tbirdtbird commented
        Editing a comment
        Everything imaginable had been tried to attach implements and keep them level with the ever changing ground beneath.
        Ferguson was a genius, and his solution still stands today.
        Henry refused to pay the royalties, and Ferguson ended up a broken and bankrupt man

    • #5
      Great story Hoogah ! Stories like that are getting fewer, so thanks for sharing. That '28 Phaeton sure seems to be in great shape with 250,000 !! Good morning cheers to you, Pat
      Model A's and of course the famous AA's


      • #6
        Knew of several like that up until the mid 80's. Can not think of any later than that. Rod
        "Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good." Thomas Sowell


        • #7
          What a wonderful story.Talk about going back in time.My kind of folks.


          • #8
            Wow Martin,

            are you going to bid on the blue survivor?


            • Hoogah
              Hoogah commented
              Editing a comment
              Pooch, while I'd LOVE to own the blue phaeton, I have to supress any selfish wishes for the greater good. It will hopefully end up as part of the display to be curated by my club. We're working on obtaining a grant to house and maintain at least the car, the tractor and a themed display that highlights both the endurance of the Model A and the innovation of the farmers in adapting it for farming purposes. Besides, I already have a very cool GREEN(ish!) phaeton in similar preserved condition!
              Last edited by Hoogah; 01-21-2019, 04:14 AM.

          • #9
            That sure is something, and good for you and your crew to save the contents. Well done Martin, thanks for sharing the story and pics

            3 ~ Tudor's
            Henry Ford said
            "It's all nuts and bolts"

            Mitch's Auto Service ctr


            • #10
              That is a great story, and very similar to one that happened in the next town to me. There were 3 brothers who never married and lived into their 80's, and when they died the farm went into a trust that the historical society and the antique engine club shared. Recently the historical society bailed out and now the engine club has a 99 year lease on the property and hold their engine and tractor shows there. The brothers did not have model A Fords, but collected old Farmall tractors, and had a lot of them, plus cranes, bulldozers, old cable operated power shovels, and a saw mill. All that stuff and more are now preserved as a working display, and a playground for the club members, plus 3 shows each summer. I knew 2 of the brothers, and they also lived in the past, with a wood fired cook stove, and an out house for a toilet, and ate mostly black bread and beans. The kitchen was lined in benches, and friends came and went at all hours, and just walked in like they lived there. It was a wonderful place to visit when they were alive. The machine shop, the foundry, the gardens and orchard and barn are still there, and being used. I go to every show they have, and bring a model A to display.
              You do not have permission to view this gallery.
              This gallery has 2 photos.
              Eastern Connecticut


              • JDupuis
                JDupuis commented
                Editing a comment
                The Model T autotrac is cool!

            • #11
              The clearing sale was held last Saturday. Our team had already set aside the Model A vehicles (phaeton, tractor, and yes we also got the flat top truck! ) and stuff we want to use for the display, including a range of spares and workshop equipment. The rest of the Model A stuff was put up for sale - there were 25 sale lots set out on pallets, including 9 mostly incomplete engines (unknown condition), gearboxes, carbies, powerhouse generators, starters, panels, engine parts, steering columns, steering shafts, headlights, 2 early drum-style tail lights, front ends, rear ends, seats, hood bows. There were probably around 50 people following this auctioneer for the Model A stuff, and much of it sold cheap. I took a punt on some of it including 2 rough looking short motors for $12 each, an even rougher gearbox for $5, 3 wheels for $14 each, 2 Zeniths and a Tilly for $20 each - hoping l'll never need any of it - but missed out on a box of 4 - 5 fuel sediment bowls including a cast one that I wanted. There was a pallet of over a dozen steering shafts that went to a bloke who was going to use them for some other purpose, more's the pity.

              Today (and tomorrow) we've been carting the club display items back to a storage shed before the property is sold next weekend. The next stage will be to get some funding for this project, having accumulated the items we require.

              Here are some more pics of the booty. There might be a little non-A stuff in these, as we found a few T parts as well (e.g. axle, steering wheel).

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              This gallery has 8 photos.


              • #12
                Here's a photo of the phaeton in the garage that it has occupied continuously since its purchase in 1930.
                You do not have permission to view this gallery.
                This gallery has 1 photos.


                • Bobm90
                  Bobm90 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  All I can say is WOW, some lucky person will own this Jewel !!

                • Hoogah
                  Hoogah commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Bobm90, the car will be retained by the trust and become part of a (working) display to be curated by my club.

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