Tom’s Massey 130 tractor. (Tom Roper photo)

Tom’s Massey 130 tractor. (Tom Roper photo)

Old tractor separates the hobby farmer from the bonafide deal

Tom recounts the tale of his first tractor, a made in France Massey 130

I always wanted to be a cowboy/farmer, rancher/guide outfitter guy when I grew up.

I still haven’t completely grown up, but I have had a chance to scratch the edges of these fine professions over the years. To get acquainted with these vocations there are certain requirements, primarily it helps to have a piece of property and a couple of critters.

Fortunately, I was able to purchase a 20-acre parcel up on Hislop Hill that was originally part of the old Pete Huber homestead. Once you venture down that slippery slope you’re gonna need a tractor.

Now, you need some animals and then you will need to cut some hay. This is how the hobby farmer story starts and became an enjoyable part of my life for some 25 years.

So, let’s cut to the tractor as these tales seem to wander and become interwoven. The French Connection were living down at the corner of Ekman and the Telkwa Highroad in the old Pazinski place. I was wandering by one day and dropped in to see how they were doing. They just happened to have a tractor and they wanted to upgrade, would I be interested?

Whoa, I didn’t want to seem so eager but yes, I would take a look. Ok, this is not good, it was love at first sight. She was a Massey 130.

I had heard of the Massey 135 and this was a distant cousin. Made in France, I should have backed away. You know, parts, do they have to come from France? But it was too late. I made my offer and the deal was cemented, let’s get ‘er home and working.

My first plan would be to check the tractor over trying to determine the correct oil and coolant levels and the correct operating procedures.

I had parked on the field which was just a hill, and I thought I had set the parking brake. As I was reading the operator’s manual, the tractor started moving. What is going on?

By the time it became clear, it was too late and off the tractor went down the hill straight as an arrow over the bank. No, this could not be happening. It was like a movie. I was running full out trying to catch up but what would I do if I did catch up?

I crested the bank and there she was, two small poplar trees sheared off on either side of the radiator with the front axle bent back perfectly. How lucky could a guy get if you forget about the original stupidity that started this fiasco?.

Oh well, what can you do, she still started right up and I limped back up to the shop and proceeded to get the front axle off and take it down to Floyd at Metallon machine works across from Madigan equipment (Chrysler) in Smithers.

That guy was talented and should have a complete story about himself. He heated the axle, coaxed her back to shape and “bob’s yer uncle” I put her back together and we went farming.

So that was the first homestead and as things can go there was a second ranch to work. I was moving across the valley and setting up down the Coalmine road. The old 130 had sat for a few years during a downturn and seized up. I got my buddy to steer as I towed her across the valley. “Now don’t try to jump it as we’re going,” I said, but I could feel the jerking a few times as he could not resist.

So, right back to the job at the new place. Hay cutting time was approaching fast and I got to work with the WD 40 down the injector holes and eventually, the little three-cylinder Perkins fired up and we were ready to go. As soon as the weather was farmer favourable, I hitched up the sickle bar mower and off we went.

I love that “shi, shi, shi” as the knives cut and the grass lay down. I was just starting to make some decent headway when there was this serious bang.

What the heck was that? It was still running, but I’d better check.

I couldn’t find anything but I better go up to the shop and take a good look. The motor was running but seemed to be vibrating a bit too much. Back at the barn I started by removing the head. Then it was drain the oil and check the crank.

Oh, oh, this doesn’t look good. A perfect shear job. The crank came out in two pieces. I really did want to thank my buddy for trying to jump-start the tractor but, good help is always hard to find nowadays, hey?

Now I am going to find out why the made in France tractor was a reasonable sale price.

Parts are not so common and this particular crankshaft was only available in Georgia with a 22-day delivery.

Well, there goes the hay crop and there’s the difference between a bonafide farmer and a hobby farmer.

I will just go back to my day job and buy the hay. The bonafide has to get that machine going and get that crop in as there is no other alternative.

So there you have it. Many chapters were written over the years, good and not so good, but I would not trade that lifestyle.

My farming days kept me closer to the land and I have always loved that connection.

Have you got a farm story to share? call me at 250-877-1806 or email tr.ranch@hotmail.com.