sealPurdue News

June 1999

Antique tractors can be dangerous, expert says

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Old tractors have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, as nostalgic farmers retrieve these old tractors and restore them to showroom condition.

Showing off old tractors is fun, says Purdue University farm safety expert Bill Field, but these antique tractors can become a source of serious injuries.

Field says that he understands the appeal of antique tractors -- he has two of them himself. But he says that they should not be used without special precautions.

"I own two old tractors, and each of them is a potential injury, because of the way they were built and the things that are exposed on them," he says. "For example, the most popular tractor is the old Ford 8N or 2N, and those tractors have a problem with rear overturns. None of them came equipped with rollover protective structures.

"Everyone takes pride in restoring these old tractors. There was a period of time when everyone was glad to send them to the salvage yard, but now people like to have them on the farms. They just need to recognize that these antique tractors are less stable, and more prone to overturns, which is the leading cause of farm fatalities. They also have more exposed moving parts. I would say that almost all of the deaths caused by tractor overturn in the past few years have been on older tractors."

Field says that one particularly dangerous practice is to use the antique tractors to mow along roads. "Some farmers like to use the older tractors for this chore. Part of the reason is that their main tractor is busy, and part of it is that they enjoy showing off the restored old tractor. But these old tractors have a high center of gravity, and if you take one of them on a ditch bank, there's a good chance that you'll flip it.

"Restoring old tractors is not only an important part of recognizing our heritage, it's also fun. But we have to remember that we need to use caution and take special steps if we are going to use these tractors like modern farm equipment."

Source: Bill Field, (765) 494-1191;

Writer: Steve Tally, (765) 494-9809;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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