Arnold’s restored tractor to be a centrepiece of display

Arnold Schulz, seated, with fellow vintage tractor restorers, Len Schilg, left, and Rob Jones, with the 1926 John Deere tractor.

One of the oldest and rarest John Deere tractors at this year’s centenary celebrations belongs to Henty and District Antique Farm Machinery Club life member Arnold Schulz,

Mr Schulz, 87, of Thurgoona, will have his restored 1926 John Deere D model tractor shod with steel wheels on show to the public.

A fellow member of the club originally bought the tractor but the restoration project proved too much to tackle.

He passed the tractor on to Arnold who set about the meticulous job of restoration.

“It didn’t cost me much really – a bit of wood on the platform on the back was the most extensive part I had to buy for it,’’ Mr Schulz said.

He began farming the family’s Jindera district property 40 years ago and began a lifelong interest of collecting agricultural machinery at clearing sales.

Arnold has retired into Thurgoona but the vast collection remains on the property and is now overseen by his son Jonathon.

Jonathon is passionate not only about restoring vintage machinery but also about his John Deere equipment.

At 12, Arnold drove his first tractor, a 1937 W-30 International, which cost his father 390 pounds and remains in the family.

“It was a good tractor – it really put dad on his feet, he went ahead when he bought that tractor,’’ he said.

“International has a bit of a soft spot for me – they were the biggest machinery manufacturers in the world at one time.

“Dad drove a bullock team, he had horses and drove a tractor – he said what else is there to achieve?

“I started on vintage cars but they were too much hard work so I tried tractors.

“They always say you have to be mad to be in the vintage car movement, and if you are, it certainly does help.

“My first vintage tractor was a D Model John Deere and it is still in the shed – my son Jon was really helpful in restoring it.’’

Arnold conceded much of his machinery collection was obtained through networking with farmers and collectors at the Henty Machinery Field Days.

One farmer gave him an International WD-9, preferring it to go to Arnold for restoration rather than scrap.

“I restored it for display at the field days and the farmer was amazed to see it in almost mint condition,’’ he said.

“I used it successfully in tractor pulls – after that I really got stuck into it.

“My wife always knew I was in the shed working on tractors, I wasn’t outside chasing women.

“The collection grew bigger and bigger, it never knew when to stop and I travelled as far as South Australia and Queensland for tractors.’’

Mr Schulz said club members were always helpful with advice and sourcing that hard-to-find part.

“That was the beauty of being the member of a club – if one didn’t know how to do it, the next one did,’’ he said.

Arnold became the go-to man for magnetos with about 100 in his machinery sheds, waiting to fire up restored kerosene powered tractors.

“The magneto creates a spark to ignite an explosion in the piston – the tractors are a bit touchy but you can usually find parts for them,’’ he said.

“I have helped quite a few people out with magnetos – I still go to car swap meets around the country.’’

Mr Schulz said the vintage displays were so loved by Henty visitors as they revoked childhood memories for many.

“We always seem to have a good crowd of people interested in our display.

“One year we had all International machinery and that drew quite a big crowd – International were very helpful in shifting the antique machinery to the field day site.

“We also had people come specially from Western Australia to see our Caterpillar display.’’

Arnold’s collection also includes a rare Massey Harris reaper made in 1917 and designed to slice the hay off for binding by hand with straw.

“The reaper did the job of about six people as labour was scarce at that time.’’

Arnold has retired from collecting now but expects Jonathon to carry on restoring the vast collection.

“He will carry on with the John Deere’s as he is keen on the green and yellow paint.’’