Vintage tractor collection in Gisborne

A vintage tractor enthusiast has sheds full of tractor history on his Gisborne property. Farm Trader went to check it out.

Gisborne orchardist Andrew Teesdale used to own just one tractor, now he has four sheds full of them. When asked exactly how many he owns, he looks around quickly and grins, “The wife’s not here is she? I’m guessing I have about 50.”

He began collecting vintage tractors in 1989 when New Zealand was celebrating the centenary of the tractor. “I am a mechanic by trade so I thought it would be a good thing to get into. I‘ve always been keen on machinery and old cars so it’s a natural progression from that and from using them on the orchard. I’m also interested in history, so it goes together really.”

And there’s plenty of history in his sheds. As well as tractors, Teesdale is fond of collecting all the bits and pieces associated with them: cast iron tractor seats, vintage number plates and petrol boxes, “In the 1920s and 30s they used to buy these, two tins to a box, then knock a hole in the tin to pour the petrol out.”

Teesdale’s oldest tractor is a 1918 Fordson, “I’ve always been a Ford man and this is from one of the first shipment of tractors that came to New Zealand early in 1919.”

The tractor he uses on his orchard is a 1956 TEA 20 Ferguson. “A lot of guys started with these old grey Fergies. My dad bought this one new when he bought the orchard 60 years ago and we still use it. They were a simple design and just keep on going. It has a Ferguson designed petrol engine that was made by the Standard Motor Company and later copied by Vanguard and used in its cars.”

“They were all grey but sometimes, dealers put a blue stripe on them to jazz them up a bit. Our Gisborne dealer numbered them and this is number 252 – meaning it was the 252nd one sold in the area.”

“Once, my father cooked the radiator after a stick flicked up and went into it. It overheated and stuffed the rings up. We pulled it to bits and redid those but apart from that and a couple of new clutches, nothing else has gone wrong.”

In another shed he has two Oliver row-crop tractors, a 1945 Oliver 60, four-cylinder; and an Oliver 70, six-cylinder. “Oliver was an independent company making quality tractors but they were taken over by White Motor Corporation, then Agco-Allis and the Oliver name was dropped. The row-crop ones are quite rare in New Zealand.”

Read the full article in the latest issue (#222) of Farm Trader magazine. Subscribe here.

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