August 6, 2007 – Step into Another World

There’s a place in downtown Melbourne that hides its secrets well.  “Vern’s Implement” always has a yard full of old farm equipment along with an accesssory lot along side the road on the way to our place.  In the past, I’ve bought a thing or two from Vern.  He’s also got a small retail store complete with the old general store type wood strip floor, big wooden entrance door, and a couple of aisles of different size bolts, nuts, etc. in old wooden bins. A while back, I had a hard time finding a certain length bolt in a 5/8 width – not at big box stores, not at True Value – all the while, the right one was sitting at Vern’s.

Back in the shop it really changes.  I swear Vern doesn’t like to work on equipment made much past 1950.  I thought I might get him to work on my ’47 Cub, but he has other work he evidently enjoys more and said he didn’t have time.  (I don’t think he likes mundane repairs.)  He also has an older solar array on the front of his house – probably from the 70’s – so he is obviously a tinkerer.

Here he is, looking at a steam-powered, steel-wheeled tractor from the early teens.  He has fabricated missing parts, rebored what needs to be re-bored, and finally painted it.  It’s a massive hunk of machinery – you can see the back steel wheels are about 5 feet tall.  It takes about two hours of burning before the engine is ready to go.

This shows the back of the tractor and some of the gears – there is one “gear” – forward and back. This is in the way back of his shop and to get there, is like traveling through a tractor graveyard, with all kinds of other tractors in various states of repair/restoration – it’s got the feeling of an old blacksmith’s shop.  I’m sure there are other places like this (at least I hope so) but they are getting rarer by the day.

one year ago…