South Island born Ronald Badman came to the Waikato to milk with his brother in the 1970’s and “never left”. He moved into contracting and has been driving tractors ever since.
Even though he’s in his seventies, he’s still doing “age-appropriate hours” for the company he’s worked with for many years.
“I keep saying I should retire back down south where all my family is, but I’m just helping out still as we’re so short of drivers in New Zealand at the moment.”
Ronald has had an interest in farm machinery for most of his life and was a member of the Otorohanga Vintage Machinery Club Inc., even before he had a machine himself.
He was out there looking for his own tractor though and when he was working down in Taumarunui one day, crushing metal, he spotted an old Farmall BM sitting in a paddock.
“The owner was very reluctant to sell at first, it was probably his first-ever tractor and it had been used to break in the farm.”
Luckily for Ronald, once they got talking more, and the owner realised Ronald’s genuine interest in old machinery and that he wanted to restore and cherish it, he agreed to the sale.
“The valves were stuck so we went back with a loader and brought it back home to Otorohanga.”
This Farmall was a 1951, four-cylinder petrol engine with five forward gears and one reverse. The BM means British Made and it would have been imported into New Zealand as new. It has a wide front axle rather than cropping wheels, which from Ronald’s point of view makes it “perfect for tractor trekking”.
It’s a heavy machine with cast iron wheel centres and compared to modern machines very uncomplicated to run. It would have been used for discing, cultivation, harrowing, feeding out in winter and sowing.
“In those days everything was heavy work with these little 30HP tractors. Nowadays the work is carried out by 200HP machines!”
Ronald stripped it all back so it could be cleaned and painted, but everything is still very much in original condition.
The Farmall has been on many tractor treks, some quite challenging and over a long distance. Ronald enjoys the social side of the Vintage Machinery Club very much.
“I’ve won a few certificates for tractor pulling over the years and I still enjoy entering those competitions.”