Vintage Farm Machinery – a Museum volunteer’s experience

Advertisement for an "18-30 Super-Drive" tractor made by Ronaldson Bros & Tippett Pty Ltd, The Austral Engineering Works, Ballarat, Vic, Australia, c.1925
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 made by the Colean Mfg. Co., Peoria, Illinois, USA, 1906.
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, Gang plough with a Case high foot lift, made about 1912.

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

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3 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.

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