Inside the Collection

Vintage Farm Machinery – a Museum volunteer’s experience

Advertisement for an "18-30 Super-Drive" tractor
Advertisement for an “18-30 Super-Drive” tractor made by Ronaldson Bros & Tippett Pty Ltd, The Austral Engineering Works, Ballarat, Vic, Australia, c.1925.

Before my recent role as a volunteer, any semblance of interest towards farm machinery and equipment came from when I was as a small child, diligently preparing the family vegie garden by raking the soil with all the exuberance that a young child could muster. Since that time, my interest has graduated from the humble wooden rake to documenting and digitising various types of vintage farm machinery and equipment manufactured from locations worldwide between the periods of 1860 through to 1960. Armed with a recently completed Certificate IV in Museum Practice, courtesy of North Coast TAFE, along with specialised digitising software training provided by IRC Co-ordinator, Jean-Francois Lanzarone, I have cheerfully ploughed (pardon the pun) into a project being developed by the Powerhouse Museum which will see hundreds of pages of documentation on rural machinery from 1860 to 1960 being uploaded to the Museum’s web site. My part in the project involves scanning and documenting all manner of farm equipment and machinery from resources such as: leaflets, flyers, pamphlets, instruction manuals, advertisements, handbooks, reference texts and department store catalogues.

Advertisement for a “Colean” 30 h.p. steam portable engine
Advertisement for a “Colean” 30 h.p. steam portable engine made by the Colean Mfg. Co., Peoria, Illinois, USA, 1906.

My volunteer experience has enabled me to witness the evolution of farm machinery – from steam engines to petrol engines; potato diggers to pick up balers; from the shovel plough to the steel plough, not to mention machinery for dairy and wool production, windmills, water pumps, land clearing, poultry, bee-keeping, pest control, farm lighting, horse-works and water storage equipment just to name a few.

Drawing of Gang plough with a Case high foot lift
Case gang plough with a  high foot lift, made by the J.I. Case Co., Racine, Wisconsin, USA, about 1912.

For me, the world of vintage farm machinery has revealed itself to be a world of innovation and resourcefulness and I for one, would like to thank Margaret Simpson, Curator of Science and Industry, for the opportunity in allowing me to be included in such a project and for my new-found obsession for disc harrows, pick up balers, winnowers, maize-shellers, hay elevators, cultivators …. (fade out)

Post by Christina Salopek, Powerhouse Museum volunteer

7 responses to “Vintage Farm Machinery – a Museum volunteer’s experience

  • I love this insight into your obsession. People’s obsessions fascinate me – maybe I’m obsessed with obsessions.

  • Hi Margaret
    I know it is many years on but we have a farm machinery museum here in Oaklands which was an enthusiastically collected group but due to age and ill health much of it has become messy and difficult to show. My aim is to document and group the collection according to age and type and use. Coming upon your site gives me hope that this can be done – I have just retired and would like to help out if I could.

  • I’m working on my family tree and I was told some of my ancestors farm equithey made was in a museum. They were around Berryvilke and Greenveiw and High Arkansas had a ancestor ran pist office in Hugh. Also there’s church and cemetery still there.

  • I have just picked up a 1942 us army pincor 12v 240v chore horse battery charger and 250 watt generator I have been trying to get hold of a owner manual and parts book for it with not much luck
    All I can find is they had them on tanks to keep the battery changed
    And for charging banks of 12v batteries for communication after the war they modified a lot to 12v 24v 32v gen, sets
    Hope you can help me out

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