Growing up in the Midwest farm country, John Dornbusch of Brookings spent a lot of time around tractors – mainly driving or riding them for fun or for work in the fields.
It wasn’t until later in life that, along with his brother, he became interested in restoring old relics that had been abandoned, or even damaged in a fire.
In 2001 he began restoring his first tractor, and not only has it become a hobby for Dornbusch, but has become a family pastime.
“I have pictures of my daughter (Kimberly) sandblasting tractors,” Dornbusch said.
After the first tractor was restored, he moved on to the next. He now has brought back to life three tractors, a 1951 Ford Ferguson, a 1954 Allis Chalmers and a 1946 John Deere, all looking like new again. Waiting to be restored is a 1944 Farmall.
Dornbusch said he tries to restore the tractors to what they looked like when new.
“I made them look as close to the original as I could,” Dornbusch said. “But I did add a few details.” For example, none of the tractors had rain caps on the exhaust stacks when they were new.
Perhaps the one tractor that Dornbusch spent the most time working on was the John Deere. This tractor was parked inside a barn that was destroyed by fire.
“I spent 100 hours working on the hood,” Dornbusch said. He also worked on the 327-cubic-inch two-cylinder engine, took the entire machine apart, sandblasted, painted the individual parts and reassembled it.
He believes all the work he put into restoring the tractors was worth it.
“When you are done – it’s beautiful,” Dornbusch said.
Dornbusch, who is a member of the Southern Oregon Antique Tractor Club, will once again have all three of his tractors, along with about five others from club members, driven in the Azalea Festival parade Saturday, May 23. He will be driving one tractor, his wife, Tanya will drive another, with their sons Michael and Steven riding along; their daughter Kimberly will drive the third.
The parade will begin at 10 a.m. The route follows Chetco Avenue from Easy Street to Oak Street, then up the hill to Pacific Avenue.
Following the parade, the tractor club will display the machines at Dan’s Auto, 718 Chetco Ave., Brookings.