Last Updated: July 22, 2014

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The Shed

Love for work-willing International tractor starts young

Stoked: Geoff McClelland on a Farmall, one of his many International tractors.

Stoked: Geoff McClelland on a Farmall, one of his many International tractors. Source: Supplied

LIKE many enthusiasts who fall for the work-willing International tractors, Geoff McClelland’s devotion began when he was a child.

He grew up on a mixed sheep and cropping business in Bealiba — in the Central Goldfields Shire — and was introduced to Internationals when his brother bought one, some 50 years ago.

Geoff, at 68, isn’t so young that he cannot recall feeding the animals with a horse and cart, and remembers the difference the International, or indeed any of their early tractors, made on the family farm.

“The one I recall the most clearly is the AW6 International and I reckon I was about 12 or 13 when we got it,” Geoff said.

“Ever since then I have always used them and later collected them because it is a bit of a nostalgic thing from my childhood; we always used Inters growing up and they were always reliable.”

While Geoff also uses a John Deere and a little grey Fergie on the Bealiba farm these days — which he took over when his Dad died — his heart is clearly with the Internationals. “There is something about them that I really like, but it is hard to put your finger on,” he said.

Geoff has 24 tractors in total, and about 12 of these are Internationals, including four Farmall tractors. He also has a rare WD6 McCormick-Deering, which he finally secured after eight years of politely harassing its erstwhile owner, who was reluctant to part with it. “Then one day I heard it was for sale and I fronted the bloke and he really wasn’t that surprised to see me,” he said.

“I had pestered him for a bit.”

It was in great condition and just needs a lick of paint, which Geoff has added to his must-do list. The rest of his collection is made up of a handful of Bulldogs, John Deeres and Case IHs. He also owns a Case 310, which is quite rare, that he picked up in a sale at Echuca.

Geoff has been collecting for 30-odd years, and is steadily making his way through the tractors, restoring each to its original condition. He is yet to spruce up the very first tractor the family ever bought — a 15-30 McCormick-Deering from the 1920s — which he hopes to get to one day, but at the moment is in the “too-hard basket”.

One of Geoff’s favourite forms of relaxation is taking his tractors on treks with fellow enthusiasts, and this Saturday and Sunday he will be taking them to the 75th anniversary celebrations marking the release of the Farmall models A, B H and M. International Harvester — the parent company of Farmall — started in 1870, but Farmalls were not produced until 1939. These were revolutionary tractors for their time, with vegetable farmers able to alter the front and rear tyre track widths to match the planted rows.

Members of the Central Victorian Restoration Group, the Veteran, Vintage Classic Club of Bendigo and the Federation of Veteran, Vintage and Classic vehicle Clubs are taking part in the celebration at Bendigo’s Prince of Wales Showgrounds.

There will be a static display of tractors across the weekend, as well as a tractor parade. Some 30,000 enthusiasts are expected to attend.

There will be two treks — one for fast tractors, the other for slow — to suit all enthusiasts.

For more information phone Neil Athorn on 0408 033 839 or visit federation.asn.au

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