I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I had enough relatives and friends who did that I had the chance to spend some time on farms in my youth. On occasion I’d spend a Saturday at a friend’s grandparent’s farm, and other times I might stay with my own grandparents in the middle of the small rural community where they lived. For a young boy, it was a great adventure.
There were plenty of farm animals around… cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and horses. And of course every farm had a dog or two hanging around.I learned to be wary of the goats, avoid the roosters, and whatever else happened – leave the bulls alone.
Of all the things that I loved about the times I spent on a farm, though, the two that stand out in my memory are the food, and tractors.
The Important Stuff
The food was epic. I don’t recall a time that there weren’t mounds of fried chicken, potato salad, all manner of fresh vegetables, biscuits, cornbread, pies of every sort, and of course, gallons of sweet iced tea. Though I was a skinny kid, I could pack away ridiculous amounts of food. And a common trait among the dear ladies who prepared that food was a sense of joy from watching youngsters eat said food. I figured it was the least I could do in return, so I gave many, many hours of enjoyment as I packed away everything in sight.
And there was plenty to explore… barns, woods, farm implements of every variety. Yet what always excited me, even more than the prospect of a plate of freshly fried chicken, was the prospect of a tractor ride.
The first one I recall was at a friend’s grandparent’s farm. After a ridiculously large meal, my friend and I were offered a tractor ride. Of course, being young boys impressed by all things mechanical, we said yes. Out to the barn we ran, my friend’s kindly grandfather struggling to keep up. The tarp was removed, and there it stood.
Taking A Ride
It looked to be an old tractor. A bit of rust here and there, some dirt in places, all showing signs of the machine being used for its intended purpose. Yet it also was quite well maintained, I was to later learn. Though to me it was just a big, fun machine to ride, on the farm it was the difference between paying the mortgage and not.
I don’t recall the make of it, but I do remember it was blue and white. Being the guest, I was given the honors of going first. My friend’s grandfather climbed into the metal seat. To this day I can see it in my mind… he wore simple denim overalls, with a blue work shirt underneath. His work boots were worn but sturdy, his hat dirty and a bit crumpled. He had a kindly smile, and the bluest eyes I think I’ve ever seen on a human being. His face showed his profession – deeply tanned and lined from days in the sun, yet all the wrinkles indicated a face that smiled often.
He reached down to help me up. I stood in front of him, leaning back a bit to rest just on the edge of seat. He had me pull a few levers, and he worked some pedals. Turning a switch, the tractor roared to life. I was absolutely thrilled at the steady roar of the engine.
With one arm around my waist, he grabbed the wheel in the other. Telling me to grasp the wheel with both hands, he slowly let off the clutch. Forward we rolled, out of the barn, into the sunlight… my friend running alongside waving.
Recapturing A Bit Of The Memories
When I’d contemplated the “Strange New Worlds” build series, I’d originally planned on including a large piece of work equipment, such as a bulldozer, or backhoe. Yet as I searched for kits, one jumped out at me immediately, dragging with it memories of long ago.
Though I don’t recall that any of the farms I had the pleasure of spending time on having a Porsche tractor, the shape was very familiar. While I know that there are a great variety of vehicles dubbed “tractor”, to me, a very familiar shape always comes to mind. Two big back wheels, two small front wheels, a long snout covering an engine, and a small metal seat perched at the back.
Looking at Revell’s Porsche Diesel Junior 108 tractor kit, I could almost feel myself riding on it. And the irony of a Porsche tractor was not lost on me. It was about like perusing performance car kits, and finding a John Deere among them. The kit choice was settled.
The kit, I suppose, is typical Revell of Germany. The parts are reasonably well cast, though not particularly so. There are a few bits of flash here and there, and some mould seam lines. Comprised of 76 parts (proudly announced on the box cover), the sprues come in several colors – red, black, chrome, cream, and clear. The kit is labeled as “easy click system”, which I suppose is supposed to convey snap fit. Technically, it is snap fit, though I’d suggest glue be used on most joins. Waterslide decals and stickers are provided, and a full color instruction sheet rounds out the package.
The build instructions assume that the model will not be painted, based on the order of operations. I studied on them a bit, and came up with a simple plan to allow for logical subassemblies to allow for painting.
Constructing The Tractor
I first built up the central engine section. I’d stripped the chrome plated parts by dipping them in bleach, as I intended to paint them a more dull silver color. Though there were quite a few seams, later parts covered up some of them, and others were in areas that would not be seen. I did apply a few spots of Tamiya Basic Putty here and there to cover up some of the more egregious offenders.
The forward axle assembly allowed for the front wheels to move in unison. However, the assembly sequence assumed it would all be joined at one time. Knowing I wanted to paint the hubs separately, I devised a simple method forward. Placing the parts together loosely, I was able to align the parts that would eventually go into the hubs, gluing them in place on the axle. I could then remove the hub part, waiting until the end to join it to the tractor’s body.
The rear axle worked in much the same way, and I was able to join all the red parts together, and mate them up to the tractors frame. I left the large rear fenders loose for ease of painting and weathering, setting them in place only for the photos.
The hood is a separate piece, designed to be opened or closed as the modeler desires. After assembly, I set it to the side, as I wanted to have full access to the engine area to really give it a grimy look.
Getting Some Colors On
All of the parts were primed with Badger’s Stynylrez Gray primer. As I was not planning on making this a “shiny new” tractor, I thought a gray base would create a nice, destaurated undertone.
For the red areas, Tamiya XF-7 Flat Red was airbrushed on, building up to full opacity. For the look I am going for, I thought this was the perfect color. It’s a bit dull, and very flat, so it starts out looking quite sun-faded. After getting the red on, I added a bit of white in the color cup. The best description I can give of the resulting color is “salmon”… not quite pink, but not fully red. This was airbrushed on in light mist coats, focusing on areas that would be more exposed to direct sunlight, giving an even more faded look.
The wheel hubs were painted with a mix of Tamiya deck tan, yellow, and white, in a roughly 1-1-2 mixture. Black details were brush painted with Vallejo Black Gray, and the silver bits were given a coat of Citadel’s Leadbelcher.
I’d left the hood off to make painting easier, but as I was setting it in place for photos, I realized that there was no way to get it on without considerable paint scratching resulting. I decided to just go ahead and scratch up the paint, photos or not. I’ll later go back and snip off the mounting pins. This will allow me to touch up the damage paint, then weather the parts separately. I can then set it in place at the end, either gluing it closed, or simply leaving it loose for the eventual buyer to decide on the pose.
A Pleasant Jaunt
As we rode the tractor down a dirt road, heading towards a large open field, I was given instructions on how to steer the tractor. Before I knew it, those weathered hands that looked quite like leather disappeared from the large round wheel, resting close by in case I had notions of steerage that was not safe. I stood proudly, steering a bit left and right to see how it felt.
As we got near the field, I was pointed to turn left, which I did, requiring only a little help. Once out in the field, I was allowed to drive all over, with only occassional guidance given to make sure I avoided ditches, fence posts, gullys, and on occasion, my friend, who still ran alongside.
I was having the time of my life.
This kit is rather simple, and really unremarkable in its engineering. Yet, at the same time, it is quite satisfying. I’m building something I’ve never built – thus the “Strange New Worlds” moniker. More importantly, it’s pulling old memories up from the recesses of my mind, of days gone by. Pleasant days, so care free, full of good food, a warm-hearted old gentleman, and a big tractor.
I plan to weather it much as I recall the tractor I first rode many years ago. Well worn, a bit grimy, but still well cared for and maintained. I’m looking forward to the process, actually, as I think it will be quite fun.
In a way, I see this build as a simple tribute to my friend and his family, and the kindness they showed on many a farm trip.
Plus, I suppose it is silent testimony to the many chickens who gave their life so nobly to feed my youthful hunger. 😉
Now, pass the gravy, please….