With the winter months arriving it’s a real pain trying to get the mist and frost cleared from the windows of your car every morning before you head off to work or do the school run.
It’s great then when the heater kicks in and brings a bit of warm comfort to your morning’s motoring. But try and imagine how different it would be if you hadn’t a heater or hadn’t that many windows to steam up!
It’s five-o-clock on the Port Rd. outward bound from Letterkenny and the rush hour is already well upon us.
The traffic is well backed up in both directions. A traffic jam has cars stopped with a cooking combination aroma of catalytic converters and clutches.
A blue classic tractor sits in the middle of the traffic jam which looks as out of place as the black volcanic glass rock in the middle of the stone wall described in the film The Shawshank Redemption.
There isn’t much chance of the heater clearing the windows on this tractor as there is no heater in the cab. The tractor belongs to a young fellow who has just finished his studies and had got a job at a busy forecourt in Letterkenny. Ryan Wilkin from Churchill works early and late shifts and was always looking for lift to or from work.
With a car and its high insurance out of his budget, this nineteen-year-old Churchill man decided on a different route to get on the road and have transport of his own.
Ryan bought a tractor which is 24 years older than himself! It was first registered in Co. Meath in 1973. 44 years on and this present owner still has as much pride in this tractor as the first day it was bought new.
Ryan takes up the story telling us he missed the tractor the first time he saw it for sale locally. Then when the tractor came up for sale the second time around he made no mistake about it.
After doing the deal to buy it Ryan fitted a secondhand cab from a Massey Ferguson on his Ford 3000 tractor. It was the only one he could find that was anywhere near the requirements for the job in hand.
The wings on a Ford 3000 are a bit smaller than the ones on a Massey Ferguson so it’s still a work in progress project to make small side panels to fill in the gaps.
The tractor is very much like the way it came off the production line in 1973. It has no power steering or nothing like that. The only major work was done on the Ford was to fit a new wiring loom.
Ryan also uses the tractor at his home on the farm which allows him to run the tractor on agricultural diesel.
The tractor is 44 years old so it also qualifies for classic insurance and classic road tax, Ryan never felt he could justify the cost of high insurance for a young nineteen-year-old man for a car so for Ryan it was all about getting on the road, something he has thought about for a long time.
It’s just about having a bit of independence and not always asking someone for a lift here and there, he said.
Ryan’s tractor is clocked for a maximum speed of 26MPH which he doubts it will still do considering its age. So this young man is never going to have to worry about speed cameras in the near future as he will never reach the limit.
As with most tractors, it doesn’t measure the miles or kms on the road but it measures the hours this three-cylinder 47 horsepower diesel engine is running. So Ryan doesn’t know how many miles his tractor does to the gallon. All he knows is that it’s easy enough on fuel. Ryan throws in a couple of gallons every week and that keeps him going.
Stealing the show
There’s not a week goes by at Tobin’s Filling Station where Ryan works that someone calls in and asks about the tractor.
Asking about what age it is and who owns it and also asking if Ryan would sell it. From the prices that Ryan was offered for his tractor (which is not for sale by the way) it seems that Ryan’s blue tractor is losing no money for the short time that he has owned it.
If anything it is increasing in value which is a rare thing for a motor vehicle.
When you look at Ryan’s tractor it might look out of place in the rush hour in Letterkenny.
But it’s a gem like no other gem for this young man who may not be travelling at any more than 26 miles per hour but is beating the insurance tax and depreciation with this 44-year-old Ford.
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