Donation preserves tractors

Hal Walton, the founder of Hal Walton’s Tractor Museum in WA, is delighted to have received a 400-litre John Deere coolant donation. Photo by Paul McGovern

John Deere is donating 400 litres of coolant to help preserve a collection of historic tractors that embody the evolution of Australian agricultural machinery.

The coolant will go towards more than 112 tractors housed at the Hal Walton’s Tractor Museum in Carnamah, Western Australia.

Over the past 18 years the museum has built up one of the nation’s best tractor collections.

The collection was started by former Carnamah Chamberlain dealership owner Hal Walton long before the museum opened in 2004.

Hal’s dealership merged to become the Chamberlain John Deere dealership in 1970 after John Deere acquired a 49 per cent stake in the Australian-owned machinery manufacturer.

“John Deere was founded in 1837 and Chamberlain operated from 1949 to 1987 so the history of this equipment is extensive,” Hal said.

“The machinery is stocked with coolant as it protects the cooling system from rust and corrosion, and with this donation we can afford to go through and replace all the coolant which will last for about 10 to 12 years.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support of John Deere, as this contribution works toward our goal of saving the history of the Western Australian-built Chamberlain tractors and imported John Deere equipment in Australia.”

John Deere Australia and New Zealand managing director Luke Chandler said it was an honour to support the museum that was playing a vital role in chronicling Australia’s pioneering agriculture history.

“The team at Hal Walton’s Tractor Museum has shown incredible dedication to repairing, restoring and maintaining a remarkable and fascinating fleet of machinery,” Luke said.

“Each one of the machines in the museum has worked as a stepping stone towards the current fleet of efficient and highly technical tractors powering modern primary production across the nation.

“Australian farming wouldn’t exist without its machinery, so it’s vital the history of these workhorses is remembered for years to come.”

AFGRI Equipment Carnamah branch manager Wayne Barry said it was an honour to support Hal and the dedicated team at the museum.

“From time to time, we have lent some equipment and some manpower when needed,” Wayne said.

“We are great admirers of what Hal and the museum team have put together for the community.

“I’m a big believer that the past should be preserved, particularly around Carnamah where machinery, like what is on display in the museum, was really what built and established the area to what it is today.”

Wayne said the museum was much loved by the Carnamah community.

“It’s a great talking point and something the community can be proud of,” he said.

“It’s a great attraction that pulls in visitors from all around the state. Visitors from all walks of life are interested to find out about the machinery and what it means to the local community and other communities like ours across regional Western Australia.”

Hal said the most popular machine for tourists was the imported 15.98 horsepower 1917 Waterloo Boy, which is the last tractor produced by Deere and Company before the business adopted the John Deere brand with its Model D.

“Most machines of this era were melted down for their metal during the war effort, but this Waterloo Boy escaped that duty and remained in a farmer’s shed until a doctor in California bought it, and we were able to later secure it from him,” he said.

On average, between 100 and 150 hours was spent restoring each piece of equipment and upgrade work could cost between $15,000 and $25,000.

“For all of us here, we get a real buzz when we see people come through our museum who are amazed to see the collection of tractors which have been restored and painted to appear sparkling new — the machinery looks as though it has just come out of the factory,” Hal said.

The maintenance program also includes starting each tractor twice a year for a drive around the museum’s lot and oiling the bearings and bushes.

“Then we clean them and polish them, then polish and clean them, then clean and polish them again,” Hal said.