Club member profile

This month we feature Ian Skeat.

I was born in Greytown in the Wairarapa in 1947. My father and his brother were farming east of Greytown. The Skeat family had gone to this farm around 1906 having lived on a small farm nearby at Papawai since 1866. My father had a mechanical and engineering bent which I picked up from him I suppose. Anyway from a young age I was around tractors and machinery my earliest memory of tractors was a Farmall H that was purchased in 1946. Dad’s uncle and cousins had a 1943 McCormack Deering W4 on the next-door farm. In 1952 the H was traded for a new Farmall Cub and English Farmall BM.

I learnt to drive on the Cub. We had an old 1934 Commer and a Ford V8 Jailbar truck brought new and arriving the day I was born. In 1965 I started a diesel apprenticeship with Fagan Motors Ford dealers in Masterton repairing Fordson tractors, Thames and Ford trucks. I was at Fagan’s for 5 years until 1970. I then went dairy farming until 1980. During this time I bought a few second hand tractors Nuffield with Perkins P4 engine, Massey Harris 744D with a Perkins P6. These tractors were a bit disappointing with the Nuffield being underpowered and the Massey being hard to drive with poor steering and brakes. I used to borrow a Farmall M from my uncle. About this time we obtained a Cat D2 3J. I finished farming with a new IH 454. In 1980 I bought a Cat D4D bulldozer and went contracting. In 1988 I went back to diesel mechanic work with Gough Gough and Hamer. I finished up working for diesel agencies on fire pumps from a diesel generator and ship repairs for straight shipping and others until I came to Otaki in 2003.

Our family was involved with tractors from 1921and owned the following tractors

Fordson F 1921 (new)

Avery 12 25 1918

McCormick Deering 1020 1936 (new)

Alice Chalmers WC 1944 (new)

McCormick Deering Farmall H 1946 (new)

McCormick Deering Farmall Cub 1952 (new)

McCormick Deering Farmall BM 1952

Outfitting The Shed

Every vintage machinery enthusiast needs a Shed. Whether it is a corner of the garage, a lean-to or a purpose built construction to house the entire collection, we still need a dedicated spot to do our thing.

I decided I was going to have only one last chance to make the place where I can make or restore stuff, so it needed to have the gear for an old man to be able to shift big stuff.

Hence a Gantry Crane was a must. I started with a 1 tonne chain block and worked from there. The cross beam was bought by the online auction system you all know, and shipped up from Christchurch. It came with a ½ ton chain block and beam trolley. The wheels (roller bearings) of the trolley and the beam itself looked capable of 1 tonne so was instantly upgraded to the desired spec. An unmatched pair of beam trolleys pur-chased from Huntly and used upside down, were perfect for supporting each end of the beam on rails made of 2, 140×45 timbers, capped with flat steel bar.

Testing consisted of lifting ½ tonne and standing to one side of the load. No failure = good enough.

Now I have a lifting device that is always right where it is needed and the load can be quietly shifted in any direction with only a small effort. Very happy with the result.

Rod McLeod