For John Walsh, it has been Ferguson all the way since the day his father bought the first tractor for the family farm, Glenfalls Farm, near Morrinsville.
As a five-year-old in 1953, he vividly remembers its arrival, and the terrified farm dog ‘Scott’ when it was started up. By age six-and-a-half John was driving it to turn hay.
He started to collect tractors relatively late in life, in 1993 when he bought his octogenarian father “a small Fergie like we used to have”, to assist with some work around the homestead.
“This started it all as I was then asked to display it at a Waikato Vintage Tractor and Machinery Club Rally.
“I could see how grandfathers loved showing their grandchildren the tractors from the old days.”
During 26 years, John, and his wife Alison, have collected 71 tractors, mainly rare Fergusons from between 1937 and 1967. Most are fully restored and working and housed in a huge purpose-built shed.
“We’ve probably got the biggest collection of Ferguson tractors and implements in New Zealand.”
John chose a 1953 Ferguson 28 with rare Ferguson half tracks, from one of his “many” favourites to show Coast & Country News.
“This little tractor is the same as the ones that were modified by Jim Bates, the founder of BLM Engineering in Morrinsville, for Sir Edmund Hillary’s January 1958 expedition to the South Pole.”
John found this tractor in a Gisborne orchard, still being used in the 1990s. After persuading the owner to sell it to him, John stripped it right down and rebuilt it, painting it in the traditional Ferguson Stoneleigh Grey.
Nearly all of the tractor is original, and John sources spare parts from original machines.
“It has a rare Ferguson epicyclic gearbox, which was way ahead of its time,” says John.
“The half tracks were bought on TradeMe from a builder who found them under a woolshed in the Franklin District.”
The Ferguson 28 is a general workhorse for the land, and with the half tracks it copes well with steep and muddy land.
When conditions are really wet, this little tractor can still outperform modern tractors, says John who enjoys taking the 28 to rallies and letting people drive it. “It always brings a smile to people’s faces when they realise that it’s so easy to handle.
“Plus the stories about the similar machines going to the South Pole with Sir Edmund Hillary always interests people.”
To visit the ‘Glenfalls Collection’ email: firstname.lastname@example.org