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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Brown brings modern marvels of agriculture back to life

  • Everybody has a piece of their childhood that they hold onto throughout life. For some it's baseball cards, and others it can be much bigger and much heavier objects that remind them of a simpler time in their past.


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  • Everybody has a piece of their childhood that they hold onto throughout life. For some it's baseball cards, and others it can be much bigger and much heavier objects that remind them of a simpler time in their past.
    For 73-year-old George Brown, the sight of an antique tractor opens the flood gates, bringing back the memories of working on the family farm or using an old John Deere to do a chore around the town.
    Brown and his wife, Ladonna, have taken their appreciation for antique farm machinery and turned it into a 16-year love affair restoring classic tractors and bringing them back to their former glory.
    During the upcoming 3i Show in Dodge City, Brown will be showcasing some of his handywork. It has become a vocation for the former Navy veteran.  He a travels to surrounding tractor shows with his wife in an effort to display the wonders that changed the face of agriculture in the early-to-mid 1900s.
    "We have fun with it, we go to the tractor shows and play tractor games and we've met a lot of nice people along the way," Brown said. "If I was a teenager and you told me I'd be hauling tractors around different states, I would've argued with you, it's a love/hate thing."
    The journey began nearly two decades ago, when Brown got a hold of an old tractor that he used to operate as a kid. Of all 13 tractors he has restored, each one has played an important role during his life.
    "I was born and raised on 'em, I started on a 1929 D John Deere on steel and worked my way up to a '36 John Deere that was on rubber," Brown said. "Before I went into the Navy, my dad bought a '49 R and when I got out of the service, he had an 830, which is the last one we've finished here at the shop. We have fun, that's all I know."
    The first tractor Brown restored was an International W6, which was a 2-cylinder model. He said that the sound produced by the W6 was so unique, that he felt the need to bring it back to life.
    Brown also recounted the experience rebuilding a Farmall International H model, which is another machine that holds a special place in his memory bank.
    "Years ago when I was in high school, there was some women in Dodge that had me come up there on a Saturday and plow their acreage with a little H," he said. "That brought back a ton of old memories, so we decided to rebuild one of them here. Each tractor we've done brings back memories of some kind."
    One of the challenges associated with restoring old vehicles is that many of the parts needed are very hard to find. Brown said that their search for parts often takes them to online retailers in Indiana and Washington, when the dealers can't manufacture what they need.
    Page 2 of 2 - The average restoration time on a tractor, depending upon the parts needed, is about a year and a half according to Brown. Both he and his wife work full-time jobs, and work on the tractors during their spare time on the weekends.
    As for the cost of a hobby like this, it's not for the faint of heart.
    "You can go from $6,000 to $10,000, and even 12 or 13 thousand dollars on the bigger ones," Brown said. "It varies because the smaller tractors don't require near as much. But depending on what shape they're in, it varies."
    While many current television shows, such as "American Restoration", take a look at restoring pieces of Americana for resale value, the Browns have said that while they have fielded offers for their work, they have never thought about selling any of them.
    "We enjoy just taking them here and there, hauling them to shows for now," he said. "We've never tried to sell one, but we've had some offers. We have a lot of fun with it, whether it's parades or two-day shows."
    For now, they will continue finding tractors to build and display around the area including the 3i Show. Until the Browns decide it's no longer for them, it will always remain a way to keep the past a part of their present, one tractor at a time.
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