WA farmer restores beloved 1929 tractor after two years hard work
Two years, six litres of paint, parts sourced from around the world and an infinite number of afternoons spent in the shed.
It was a labour of love for retired Corrigin farmer Vince Gallinagh to lovingly restore a 1929 John Deere Model D tractor, which had been in his family for two generations.
The rusty and rickety piece of equipment had spent almost 35 years in a dry creek bed after three decades of work.
It was 1930 when Mr Gallinagh’s father, Joe, bought the 1929 Model D for £400.
It was shipped to Fremantle from the US that same year.
It was the midst of the Great Depression, and on arrival at the port, the tractor was placed on a trail and hauled to the Gallinagh’s family farm at Dowerin.
Nineteen years later, the tractor was moved to the family’s new farm at Corrigin in 1949.
The tractor’s exciting arrival at Dowerin signalled a changing of the guards at the family farm.
“It meant the family didn’t have to get up at 4am to feed horses, the horses were replaced by the tractor,” Mr Gallinagh said.
“They could go out, start the tractor and use the combine without a 10-horse team.
“It really made things easier for them on the farm.”
With its interchangeable wheels, cleats for ploughing and rubbers for seeding and harvesting, its 28-30 horsepower engine was high-tech for its time.
The tractor spent a lot of its life dragging a log for clearing, and was relocated to the new family farm in 1949.
After 30 years, the trusty John Deere spent six years running a belt-driven water pump taking water from the dam, to a tank for garden watering.
It also cut chaff hay for horses and cattle.
In 1956, the tractor was placed in the shed at Corrigin.
Years later, it was put out to pasture and ravaged by the elements for another 35 years, sitting in a creek bed under a big Salmon Gum.
In 2009, Mr Gallinagh’s enthusiasm for restoring machinery, coupled with childhood memories, sparked a restoration journey of epic proportions.
The tractor’s return to grace was a long one.
As the piece of history started to ruin, Ms Gallinagh suggested she and her husband bring the tractor up and put it in the shed in 2006.
Once towed, Mr Gallinagh slowly started his project, first pulling the head off the engine to get it running.
Every few months he would turn the engine over to check it was still in working order.
“The motor had seized up, it was a lot of work to get it sorted,” Mr Gallinagh said.
“But it was tradition, I wanted to restore it, I just loved the old girl and have always loved John Deere tractors.
“Some of my favourite memories involve being out on it when I was about five and we were cultivating a paddock ... I rode around on it with my dad.”
For years, the most excitement the tractor saw was being used to transport a dressed-up Santa Claus to give out presents at the Gallinagh’s family Christmas.
Repairs were sporadic until Mr Gallinagh and his wife, Sue, semiretired in 2009, allowing Mr Gallinagh to really tucked into his favourite restoration project.
The engine was the hardest part, with a radiator boasting a tiny seep around the gasket on the head tank.
The brass core was good as new.
Anyone with a love of tractors will know restoring a piece like the Model D is not an easy feat.
Several items were sourced from the US, while other parts were sourced by former John Deere dealership owner Hal Walton, of Carnamah.
In 2011, the tractor’s long restoration project was finally finished after two years.
Mr Gallinagh’s family settled in Corrigin in 1949, 23 years after starting their original family farm at Dowerin, which they took up in 1926.
They painstakingly cleared a 874ha bush block of land south-east of Corrigin and later took on 2023ha near Hyden, growing a variety of grain crops and running pigs, cattle and sheep.
Mr Gallinagh sold the Corrigin and Hyden farms in 2008, and that’s when his hobby for restoring machinery took off.
These days, Mr Gallinagh and his wife live in Corrigin’s town centre, where they have lovingly stored the tractor in a shed on their property.
There, it lives a humble existence and is showed off at the Corrigin Agricultural Show at the Ag Implements Narembeen dealer display every September.
Mr Gallinagh has since restored a collection of other historical machines, including a rare Chamberlain 6G Tractor and two Chamberlain 9G Tractors. “It gets a lot of attention at the show, people love looking at it because it is just so little compared to the 700hp tractors on farms these days,” Mr Gallinagh said.
The Corrigin Agricultural Show will be held on September 14 at the town oval.
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