It has been 62 years since it was made, yet Sam Gavin’s 1959 John Deere Model 42 header has still got it! Last Monday, members of the Canowindra Vintage Tractor Club (CVTC) and a group of local farmers, gathered to see the old header in action.
At the end of the 2020 harvest, local farmer Sam left one acre of wheat standing at his family property “Glenalla” just north of Cowra, with the intention of harvesting it with vintage machinery. The header is in pristine condition, from its paint and signage to the wooden blades on the header front, Sam was confident the header would work and he knew the perfect tractor to pull it.
Member of the CVTC and Sam’s good mate Luke Tidswell of “Plenty” Canowindra, owns a 1948 John Deere D Model, besting Sam’s header in age by 11 years.
Together, these vintage titans of farming put on a show to the assembled crowd, all eager to see the machinery in action.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity for everyone to get together and to generate more interest in vintage farm machinery,” said Sam of the event. “These are the machines our great grandfathers used. It is our history.”
Sam bought the Model 42 from Andrew Whatman of “Rothesay” Woodstock, last year, who had purchased it from an elderly farmer near Crookwell who originally bought the header brand new over half a century ago. Sam had always intended to use the header, keen to see it in action rather than collecting dust in the shed.
While the old Model 42 is dwarfed next to a modern header, it is still solid and usable despite the advances in machinery. The old header has a 9-foot open front comb and a box that can hold one tonne of grain, whereas a modern header commonly uses a 40-foot comb and a box that can hold up to 14 tonnes of grain. The vintage header, with its 35 horsepower tractor, is able to strip two tonnes of wheat per hour in comparison to a whopping 25-50 tonnes with modern 500 horsepower machinery.
Despite the huge differences, President of the CVTC Glen Dunkley noted that, “The groundwork is still very similar between these old machines and the new ones. It is really just the technology that has changed to achieve the greater yields that we see today. Seeing these old machines working today is testament to the longevity of the product.”
The day was a treat for the members of the CVTC who missed out on the opportunity to compete at tractor pull events last year thanks to COVID. The club members are now looking forward to seeing the “old girls” back out of the shed later this year at local shows.