Antique farm tractor collection in Battle Ground still sees use


Battle Ground resident Richard Marini started collecting small tractors as a young man and now has 10-plus antique farm machines, which he still puts to use regularly.

Marini’s top tractor in his collection is a 1957 Ford 861 that performs multiple hay duties.

“It cuts the hay. It breaks the hay. It bales the hay,” Marini said of his old Ford. “And so I use the bejesus out of that every summer. July, it’s going nonstop.”

Another “all-star” tractor in Marini’s collection is his McCormick Deering W-4, which he has used to teach life skills behind the wheel. He uses this antique to haul the trailer that is loaded with hay bales.

“All my grandkids at the time were 4 feet tall, and you could put that tractor in first gear and idle it down to zero and just make them steer the tractor and you say, ‘You point to the other side of the field and go over there,’ so the kids would drive and then we’d be out there throwing the hay on the trailer,” Marini said, adding all of his children and grandchildren learned to drive the antique machinery that way.”

Marini is now the club president of the Fort Vancouver Antique Equipment Association, which specializes in restoring and preserving antique farming machinery to keep the history of agriculture alive and well.

Marini and club member Dean Bloemke, enjoy using and restoring old agricultural equipment so younger generations can learn and respect the machinery that helped develop American farms.

Marini and Bloemke are hoping to interest younger people in this machinery so the history isn’t lost.

“If this stuff is going to survive, the people in their 40s and 50s have to start because me and Richard are two of the younger members. I’m 70, [and] he’s 67,” Bloemke said.

For Marini, the importance of collecting antique farming equipment is to document the evolution of agriculture and remind people how the food they eat makes the journey from the farm to their table and the work that went into it.

“The importance of that is probably to try and show younger people that in the olden days you had to work to live, to eat and whatnot, where today, you know, you go to the supermarket and you buy your stuff, and back then you had to work your butt off for it, and a lot of kids just don’t even fathom that,” Marini said.

Bloemke said the club members display their antiques for historical purposes, too. Their machinery is on display at the Clark County Fair every year.

“From the early 1900s ’til the mid-’60s or whatever, innovation was key,” Bloemke said. “When we went through the industrial revolution, there were so many brands of tractors in the early days. Pre-World War II, everybody was trying to invent the next best tool to use to make life easier. And you see the progression of what we’ve got today, and if somebody doesn’t save that history, it’ll be gone. So that’s what we try to do, and people all over the United States and the world try to do that.”

The Fort Vancouver Antique Equipment Association, branch 23 of the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association — the national organization — can be found on Facebook and by emailing or calling 360-980-2805.