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It's Alright Where It Is!
I have a tale of a different kind to tell. Whilst rooting in the hedge bottoms this week I had cause to visit Chapel lane Farm, the home of an eccentric gentleman by the name of Austin Kendall. I had heard rumours that an old Case Model C was languishing away in the back of one of the outbuildings there. So off I went in search of what would turn out to be a very rare and unusual tractor.
Mr Kendall is an excitable chap to say the least. He is amongst the last of a dying breed of farmer who had in his youth known nothing but horses to aid him work the 100 odd acres of farm land. Now on his second hip replacement, he is a chirpy old soul who can still raise a chuckle even though at the age of 72, he still works the farm full time!!
He is turns out in shirt and tie, padded waist coat and flat cap. His ruddy cheeks and chissled features give him the likeness to a weasel, which is hightened by his almost black coloured eyes that tend to water and twinkle due to his years.
Introduction complete and confidence gained, I had no difficulty warming to the old gent. He had so many memories to share and so much knowledge to impart, that I found it difficult not to get swamped by it all. Even walking into the farm yard ...which looked as though nothing had changed from 1940, I could see things that belonged in a museum, but that were still very much in use.
The farm itself was badly neglected and run down. Rotten window frames and flaking paint were in abundance as were his pack of cats!!! In the far corner almost secluded by nettles was an aging Fordson E27N, the tires green and flat. Metal work brown and eaten away. Everywhere I looked were the dying bodies or parts to some obscure piece of machinery including a very nice slope fronted Fordson Delivery Van that had a tall elderberry tree growing up through the cab!!!
It's a strange sort of feeling you get when presented with such a vision. I can only describe it as a mixture of sadness and anticipation mixed with a twinge of excitement.
At the side of a wooden-type shed was a rear iron cleated wheel, complete with a set of retractable cleats. Behind that I recognized a Fordson radiator top tank, still showing signs of pale blue paint.
Austin ushered me through into an old corrigated nissen-hut type building which at some stage had recieved a coat of thick black bitumen paint. The hut was fairly full of junk, along with an old bamford bailer, polythene bags by the ton and a furgeson bonnet. Austin gestured to the back and left me to it. I watched him as he walked away with pronounced limp.
The light wasn't particularly good, the confines of the arc making it claustrophobic. I struggled over boxes of old spanners and ammunition boxes full of rusted nuts and bolts to see the hulk of a fairly large tractor in the gloom.
No doubt at all... the machine was quite substantial. It was covered in layers of thick dirt and ckicken feathers, old corn sacks had been thrown over the top obscuring its shape making it difficult to recognize. The tractor was facing towards me, the top of the exhaust which was located on my right almost touching the roof. The front was robust and square with a flat piece where the starting handle protruded. The starting handle hung loose over a heavy inverted "V" shaped axle. The bonnet was long and high leading to an air cleaner pipe and wide mudgards which looked as though they had been fitted as an after thought. Protruding out from beneath the wings were heavy cone shaped wheels on rather poor tyres. Although filthy it was just possible to tell that at one time they had been a dull red.
Using an old corn sack, I brushed away the feathers to reveal a rather dull and lifeless grey colour. Whilst the colour scheme gave no cause for excitement, I knew that this was by our standards a real find and a true rarety. Pulling back the last of the corn sacks the name stood proud, cast on the radiator head "CASE" Further inspection found a few missing parts and a badly dented left hand wing. Looking at the radiator core it was apparent that it would never hold water for any length of time and it would take many hours of hard work to bring the thing out into the open let alone to any acceptible standard.
Due to the confines and position of the tractor and other items I was unable to get a clear view of any identifying marks. However, if as I believe this was a model "C" CASE it would most certainly be of the late thirties.
By now I was looking like a chimney sweep! I was also beginning to itch after throwing the old corn sacks round. I abandoned the shelter and imerged into a dull overcast day, with one thing on my mind "is it for sale"? "how much"?. I took the oportunity to look around on the slow walk back to the farm house. So much stuff, it was truly an alladins cave for the enthiusiast!!! I could imagine restorers up and down the country crying out for the parts I'd seen lying about here to finish the love of their lives.
I knocked the door and Austin answered with " did you find what you wanted?" indeed I had but was it for sale? the answer to that was "NO lad....I can't....it's alright where it is!!" The wry grin said it all....definitely a story without a happy mending!!!