Going Round the Bend in Search of Old Tractors

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       December 18, 2014


Author  Ian M Johnson

ISBN:                 978-1742576084
Publisher:         New Holland Publishers
Release Date:    

Website:    http://www.newhollandpublishers.com 

Ian M. Johnson is an acclaimed author and historian on his chosen subject Tractors, mostly old tractors and for this he makes no excuse. His love affair with these mighty beasts goes back to his boyhood in Scotland during the war years and has continued on to bring him much fun, frustration and laughter over many years.

In this collection of memoirs we travel once again with him as he sets off on so many journeys in search of yet another tractor. He returns to the days of his youth were he first developed a love and understanding of these metal monsters which would churn and clatter their way across the paddocks in what many an old timer would call “cantankerous manner”.

Little did he realise that he was being introduced to living history, that of the steam traction engine verse the horse drawn plough, by the very people who were part of this significant industrial and agricultural change.

Over the years the manufacturers of tractors have come and gone, each leaving a unique brand of tractor behind; one that was developed to do a certain something or other in a specific manner. The tractors were either highly successful and sought after, or slowly disappeared into the pages of history, never to be bothered about again.

But such is the joy of history when discovering some of these unique creations were still about ans in some cases, still in use.

Not only are we entertained by Ian’s droll manner, on the history and development of tractors, we are also taken on a voyage of discovery as he travels into places such as Romania, during the  final period of Ceausescue’s’s diabolical regime.

Travelling with his wife they set off to gather information on the UTB Tractors used throughout Romania and also built in Romania. Their journey was even more eventful than they anticipated delivering a firsthand look at the oppression under this rule. After all that they finally discovered, in a lengthy meeting with the Department Managers at the factory, the UTB Tractors were exported to 83 countries around the world.

He was then taken to look at the assembling of the tractors ordered for Australia and while the assembly lines where far from automated the product the workers were delivering was of a very high standard. The prototype of the UTB (Farmliner) 3 series had clean, modern lines and a number of his suggested improvements were included in the Series 3 tractors for the Australian order.

More than just a history of tractors it is also a travel memoir that takes little side trips into interesting little episodes such as the Captain of the ferry travelling to the Orkneys doing a little spot of fishing from the bridge before the ferry set sail.

A wonderful trip down memory lane is delivered in the Massey Ferguson tractors segment and ending with reflections on ‘ Plough and Be Counted 2’ which was an attempt to regain Australia’s Guinness World Record for the greatest number of tractors to plough one paddock simultaneously, which gives you some idea of the love and depth of feeling so many people have for these remarkable giants of the paddock; Bang, clank rattle and all!

If you love a great yearn, a trip along the roads of the world, the highs and lows of tractors or even old machinery, this is a must read, which will have you chuckling and grinning and in Ian’s words “perhaps encourage you to venture off the beaten track and explore intriguing but often overlooked corners of this amazing planet’.

 Well, you could do worse!