Focus Artesia Spring 2021 | Good As New

Pecos Valley Classic Ag Tractor Club was formed to honor farm equipment of the past. The club is open to anyone young or old interested in vintage farm equipment, whether they own any or not. We urge anyone with farm equipment that has been restored (or, even if you just like this stuff) to join the club. Our objective is to have fun and help educate the young about the rich agricultural heritage that has brought forth the Pecos Valley and surrounding regions of New Mexico and West Texas.

There are many reasons people start collections — for knowledge, recognition, or for-profit. For local collectors, Jerry Frazier and Ralf Cunningham, the simple pleasure they receive from restoring and collecting vintage tractors stems from generations of farmers plowing and planting before them. Together, the two men have a fleet of over 25 rare and refurbished antique tractors.

When Ralf inherited the 1955 Oliver Super 55 from his dad, it didn’t matter that he didn’t live on a farm. The retired military veteran was enthusiastic about the opportunity to refurbish the tractor he fondly remembers driving as a child. Ralf moved to Artesia in 2010 and was surprised to stumble upon Jerry’s collection of antique tractors.

The two bonded immediately over their shared interests in old tractors and Jerry invited Ralf to join the Pecos Valley Classic Ag Tractor Club. The group is comprised of members who share a common interest in restoring engines and tractors from the past. The club has a dozen active members who meet monthly to discuss tractor restoration, to plan shows and pulls, and just to enjoy each other’s company.

Every tractor has a story.

While all of their tractors are unique, the friends take great pride in their one-of-a-kind LEADER tractor that was pieced together from three different parts tractors. When it was complete, Jerry proudly drove it down Main Street in Artesia during the annual 4th of July parade.

Not too long after meeting, Jerry and Ralf began hunting and hauling tractors from all over the country. The old parts and pieces of farm equipment were rescued from the junk pile after years of rust and neglect to be restored to their original condition. Restoring these simple machines requires great attention to detail and maintaining historical integrity can become a complex process. Many of the tractors in their collection are beautifully painted by Rick Hines, a former Artesia resident.

While antique tractors aren’t practical for today’s farmers, Jerry, Ralf, and the other club members continue to look for ways to share and preserve our agricultural heritage. The members participate in local fairs, festivals, and parades across the Southern region of New Mexico and West Texas. Jerry has donated several of his tractors back to the community, including the first diesel tractor to ever come into the Pecos Valley, which is displayed inside the Carlsbad museum.

Earthmaster Before - When Ralf and Jerry came across the orange Earthmaster pictured left they didn’t question the price tag. The tractor is a rare find as it was only produced from 1948-1950. Considering the state of the world after WWII, Earthmaster used the parts and components available at the time to make one of the best tractors of the time.
Earthmaster After

The old tractors in Jerry and Ralf’s fleet endured a rugged lifestyle but, with a little TLC, the machines are good as new. By sharing their collection, they hope to encourage interest in, respect for, and the preservation of, antique tractors and the heritage of traditional agricultural practices.

If you are interested in learning more about the Pecos Valley Ag Tractor Club please check out their website

The rare stationary hay bailer pictured to the left was found rusting in the middle of a field west of Roswell. The two men restored the equipment and have bailed nearly 5 harvests' worth of hay.

Article written by Jessica Addington and originally published in Focus on Artesia 2021 Spring edition.

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