At first glance it’s a paddock full of dust-covered junk. At second glance it’s a field of dreams. South Canterbury man Ross Kinsman collected so many vintage tractors over his lifetime that it has taken four months to bring them together for the final time on his farm just north of Fairlie. Source: Stuff.co.nz
More than 100-strong, the line of tractors stretches for 800 metres along the fenceline – complemented by antique farm machinery, sawmilling equipment, graders and 15 Bedford trucks.
All will go under the hammer at 11am on Friday in an auction that has been billed as the biggest single sale of vintage tractors in Australasian history.
There are Fordsons and Allis Chalmers’ galore (even rare G and U models), 1928 Cases, McCormicks, David Browns, Caterpillars, a Nuffield, a Cletrac, an old Zetor.
It’s enough to get even a dabbler in the field of tractor enthusiasm frothing at the mouth.
Mr Kinsman, who died of cancer in 2009, dedicated most of his life to his collection, an obsession started when he bought a Fordson tractor as a 15-year-old in 1969.
“He sometimes hid it from me when he bought another one,” his wife Elizabeth Kinsman said.
“I said to him when we got married that he needed to give me one day a week – Sunday – so we could go to church.
“He gave that to me and he spent the rest of his time with his collection.
“I didn’t mind because it was his happiness.He didn’t go to the pub or anything. He collected tractors.”
The pair married in 1990 when Elizabeth, originally from the Philippines, moved to Fairlie with him.
By then Kinsman’s collection was already large. He was a Ministry of Works roading contractor and the ministry used to hire his tractors for its work around Mackenzie.
All were put to work as Kinsman tried his hand at a bit of everything, from grain and sheep farming to sawmilling.
As his standing as a Mr Fix It in Fairlie grew, so too did his machinery.
He bought an 1880s wooden chaff cutter, probably the oldest item in his collection, along with a wooden thrashing mill. There was a portable tin saw-mill, an antique haysweep, binder, a war-time grader, a ridger drill for swedes.
“He could do anything with machinery, he wasn’t scared to try anything,” Mrs Kinsman said.
“The one thing he never touched was a computer. He preferred old technology.”
Mr Kinsman’s three children have drifted on to university and do not share the same passion for tractors as their father, in the same way Mr Kinsman did not share his parents’ passion for horses, Mrs Kinsman said.
She will be keeping a Fordson steel wheel with tracks (Fordson was his favourite tractor brand) and a 1938 Chevy truck, which she plans to restore.
Mr Kinsman’s good friend and fellow tractor enthusiast Ben Lewis has had the mammoth job of bringing the collection together.
“They were all just sitting in sheds. I don’t know how long it’s taken me but we’ll be cleaning them up over the next few days in time for the auction,” he said.
“Most of them start. We’ve had people in testing them out and we were able to crank most of them up.”
Mr Lewis said there would be a viewing day on Thursday for those interested in having a look before the auction.
He said the value of the collection was “in the hundreds of thousands”.
“There will be a lot of interest and I suspect there will be a lot of people here. I’ve had interest from as far as Australia and this is as big as it gets in terms of vintage tractors.
“I’ve been following the auctions most of my life. I can’t remember any that have been bigger than this.”