Sun Mar 16, 2008 8:36 am
Bill Vossler wrote:Scratch-built farm toys often begin as labors of love, created in a rush of playful fun, according to Gilson Riecke, Ev Weber and Terry Rouch.
Gilson, of Ruthven, Iowa, says, â€œThat's why I build tractors. So I can have fun.â€
Bill Vossler wrote:Gilson Riecke
Each scratch-builder began creating for different reasons, uses different materials and works differently to make his little masterpieces. Gilson Riecke became interested after he had made six patterns for tractors for the late Lyle Dingman, one of the farm toy hobby's earliest scratch-builders.
â€œThat got me intrigued,â€ Gilson says, â€œand after that, I decided I wanted to try building tractors on my own.â€ His first was a Farmall Cub. â€œI built that one for myself. I made the Cub because no one else had made one, and I had a full-size one of my own.â€
He followed that with a wide variety of tractors over the years: John Deere A, B, G, LA, M, MT, International Harvester F-12, F-14, 400, 450, Massey-Harris 44, Oliver 88, Minneapolis-Moline Jetstar, Allis-Chalmers WD-45, as well as a John Deere baler, corn sheller, farm engine, plow, Lindeman crawler, IH corn picker, farm engine, hay mower, 1-, 2- and 3-bottom plows, T-6 crawler, and various farm items, like grease guns, oil cans, cream separators, pump jacks and pumps, as well as others.
Though all of Gilson's toys are essentially masterpieces, many people consider his Farmall F-20 the best. â€œWhen I got out of high school I was a mechanic for IH and I worked on a lot of F-20s, so it was a tractor I knew very well,â€ he recalls. â€œMy dad had an F-20 on the farm, too. Those added up to reasons why I chose to make it.â€
He said he wanted his F-20 to look real, and â€œrealâ€ meant extensive detail. That meant returning numerous times to the real F-20 until he'd gotten all the measurements, then scaling them down for the F-20 model. â€œThe F-20 toy tractor is made up of 67 pieces,â€ he says. â€œFor example, two of them are the seat and bracket. They're made of aluminum. The seat is separate and is riveted. Every piece you can see, we make. If it doesn't have bolts and burrs, it doesn't look real to me. Plus it's hard, and I like a challenge.â€
The F-20 is representative of all of Gilson's work, but like each toy, it had specific needs to get it built. The wheel hub taper had to be altered, and the angle of the spark plugs had to be changed from the real tractors in order to make dies that would work. Spark plug wiresâ€”made of thin electrical wireâ€”are stuck into miniature holes drilled in the block.
Some tractor engines can be done with a single cast, but not the F-20, which had to be split. â€œI wanted to be able to see the rail on the side, and the open pocket by the fan,â€ Gilson says, â€œwhich couldn't be accomplished unless the casting was split.â€ Without these little touches, he says, the tractor just didn't seem real enough to him. All his farm toy work is done in 1/16th scale.
Gilson doesn't like to make too many of any one project. â€œWe could make more of any of them if we wanted, but we aren't trying for numbers. Plus I want it to remain fun.â€