This Mas­sachusetts man’s large col­lec­tion of small trac­tors is the talk of the town.

Farm & Ranch Living - - CONTENTS -

As kids, my brothers and sis­ter and I loved my dad’s 1978 Sears GT/18 trac­tor. We helped Dad by pick­ing up leaves and load­ing them into the trailer, mow­ing the grass and snow­blow­ing. I loved that trac­tor be­cause you could pop wheel­ies with it when you dropped the clutch. Dad had that one for years, un­til 2005, when he bought a brand-new gar­den trac­tor. He gave the old Sears to my brother Ti­mothy, but he didn’t use it much. I got the GT/18 in 2009, and I started re­pair­ing it. The main is­sues were that the car­bu­re­tor wouldn’t al­ways pump fuel, and the nose cone was bro­ken. I added an electric pump to the trac­tor, and later went look­ing for a re­place­ment mo­tor. First, I bought a 1974 Sears SS/16 for $100. But it was in poor shape, so I traded that one for a 1977 Sears 18/6. I used that for plow­ing un­til its frame broke, and then dropped the 18/6’s mo­tor into the GT/18. I did fix up the 18/6 as well. By then, all the work had ig­nited my pas­sion for restor­ing gar­den trac­tors. I spend time ev­ery day on Craigslist or eBay look­ing for deals. When I find one for a good price—or that has parts I need—I buy it to fix and keep, or to sell off parts I don’t need. I have owned just about ev­ery model of Sears trac­tor, in­clud­ing a Crafts­man with a fac­tory front-end loader. Now, I have 19 com­plete trac­tors, many of them cus­tom­ized with small diesel en­gines, ex­haust stacks, agri­cul­tural tires and at­tach­ments. As the col­lec­tion has grown, peo­ple around here of­ten try to buy trac­tors from me or sell them to me. The trac­tors that Sears man­u­fac­tured in the years be­tween 1965 and 1979 are high qual­ity; that’s why I col­lect them. I hope to build trac­tors for both of my kids. Emma, 7, wants a pink and white one, and Jake, 4, asks for a blue and white model. So it looks as if my fas­ci­na­tion with trac­tor restora­tion will con­tinue into the next gen­er­a­tion.

THE 19 GAR­DEN TRAC­TORS IN James Bar­rette’s Mas­sachusetts garage (right) show a fas­ci­na­tion that be­gan with his fa­ther’s 1978 Sears GT/18. The fleet in­cludes a Sears Sub­ur­ban 12 that James has decked out with du­ally tires in the back and an ex­haust stack.

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