The First Time Driving a Tractor
The moment when a farm boy or girl first gets to drive a tractor is a pivotal one. It’s when he (or she) becomes more than Dad’s helper; that young person becomes a farmer.
We asked Agriculture.com community members about their first experience on a tractor. Below is a collection of responses from farmers reminiscing about the first tractor they drove or the first one they could call their own.
John Deere Green
“The first tractor I drove was an Oliver 77 standard,” recalls lsgfarms. “It was also the first tractor my wife drove – she was a townie.” Lsgfarms is one of a few lucky farmers who knows what happened to the first tractor he used on the farm.
“It has been fully restored and is owned by an Oliver collector 4 miles down the road,” he says. “I asked for first right of refusal, and he said yes. I will be the first one he calls when he is ready to sell it.” The beautifully restored tractor that could once again become Lsgfarms is shown above.
“The first tractor I bought was a used 776 International without a cab,” says lsgfarms. “We used it for planting corn, running the small square baler, and we put a blade on it for packing the pit silo.” Lsgfarms adds that the farm is now John Deere green.
The first tractor r3020 used was a John Deere B with a two-row rotary hoe in a .5 mile-long field. “Talk about an endless summer,” he remembers. “I still have that tractor.”
Starting in red
A number of Agriculture.com community members started their driving experience in red tractors.
The first tractor sw363535 drove was a Massey Harris 55, followed by a Massey Harris 44 the next day. However, he didn’t stay loyal to the brand, eventually purchasing a John Deere 4430.
Patrick also transitioned from red to green. “The first tractor I drove was a Farmall C raking hay with a New Holland 56 rake,” he says. “The first one I bought was a John Deere 4455.”
Member ECIN started out in an International Harvester H and two-bottom plow. He stuck with red and bought a 1974 966 IH with a five-bottom plow. “I believe I gave $13,000 for the whole outfit, and my first tank of fuel was 17.5¢ per gallon,” he adds.
Hardwayfarmer remembers the 1956 Massey Harris Ferguson 50 his dad bought in 1959. “We still have and use it regularly,” he says. “It has a brown belly, instead of the gray belly that started when Harris was dropped from the name. Three generations have driven it, and soon I hope to get the fourth one on it for a picture, at least.”
The tractor is in tip-top shape now, but it has needed some repairs along the way. “The engine lost oil pressure in about 1990, and I parked it, not having time and money to fix it,” explains Hardwayfarmer. “Our son needed a project tractor for his last semester of ag mechanics at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio. After Christmas in 2001, we rented a trailer and took it to his school. He left no bolt unturned in the engine and transmission.”
Another tractor Hardwayfarmer has had around for quite some time is the IH 574 he purchased brand-new 40 years ago. “It was the only brand-new tractor I’ve ever owned,” he adds. “We still use it regularly, too.”
Shaggy98 has lots of fond memories from the first four tractors in his life, starting with a Ford 8N used for grading the driveway with a three-point back blade and light loader work. The loader lift was hydraulic, but the bucket was a trip bucket and had to be lowered all the way to reset the pin. “As a kid, I considered myself very lucky to be able to grade the driveway,” he says. “I think I was around 6 years old when I started driving it.”
The first farm tractor Shaggy98 drove was either a 930 open station Case or an 856 International with a factory rear entry cab. “The Case would get about an extra ½ mph road speed if you would depress the throttle pedal going down the road,” he remembers. “Anyone with one of those models will probably attest to that.” The 856 on the other hand "would run like a bat out of hell," he adds. “That thing had about 12,000 hours on it, and the engine was never touched.”
“The first tractor I purchased was a 7140 Case IH Magnum,” says Shaggy98. “We purchased it the first year they were produced in 1987. I’ve still got it today, and it is my primary workhorse. I had it completely restored in 2010.”
Rawhide’s first tractor was also a Ford 8N. And so was Hobbyfarmer’s. “Dad tried to get me to mow hay with an 8N,” he remembers. “Grandma rescued me, took over, and fixed the mistakes. I was only 5.”
Tommy Thompson also had a Ford, although his was a 640 Ford. “It kept two teenage boys busy and out of trouble,” he says.
Building the bug
In the late 1920s, mnvtfarm’s family built the tractor you see below in their basement. This is the second tractor the family owned and the first tractor drove by the fifth generation, shown in the picture.
The tractor, named the bug, was hand-built without a welder from a wrecked Model A car and an old Model T.
No air cleaner for ease of maintenance. “It was easier just to stick in a different motor when the oil smoke got bad,” says mnvtfarm.
Oldsmobile radiator cap and water temperature gauge. “This was most likely stolen from the junkyard, because I don’t think they could afford one,” he says.
Top road speed was 40+ mph. “No one, including myself, has dared to let her go,” he adds.
“Hours are unknown,” says mnvtfarm. “It’s been stuck, flipped over backward, almost killed two great-uncles, cursed, and praised. There is nothing enjoyable about driving it, but I can go to the shed, hook the battery up, and it will start and run.”
What is this 90-year old tractor worth? “Market value – whatever it weighs for junk,” guesses mnvtfarm. “Personal value – priceless. I wish it could talk.”