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Ohio farmer relishes in restoring history

Open house celebrates 100 years of farming and 23 antique tractors.

It’s like an obsession. Often it takes just one, and an antique tractor lover progresses into a collector.

Jim Miller of Amanda, Ohio, wasn’t part of the group crossing the Mackinac Bridge covered in this month’s American Agriculturist, but family hosted his own celebration Sept. 18, when friends and family visited to commemorate the farm being designated as an Ohio Century Farm by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Ohio’s Historic Family Farms program. Guests also got to enjoy Jim’s antique tractors on display.

He bought his first tractor from a family member, a 1948 Allis-Chalmers B originally purchased from Young’s Allis-Chalmers and Pontiac in Amanda.

“I began restoring it, and really enjoyed putting the history back together — bringing it back to what it was originally,” he says. “I was hooked, and I now have added 22 more to my collection.”

In the antique tractor world, Jim is considered “colorblind.” He has an assortment of makes and models.

Some of his favorites include a 1936 Farmall F12 with steel wheels. “I love the uniqueness of the steel wheels,” he says. “My father-in-law had a similar tractor, but it was beyond restoration, so I removed the sickle bar and used it in this restoration, preserving some family ties.”

His 1975 Oliver-1655 is one Jim’s father, Marvin (Belva) Miller, purchased new in Stoutsville, Ohio, just a few miles outside of Amanda. He uses it occasionally to split wood. His 1949 Farmall H and 1948 Farmall Cub were purchased from friends who supplied mutual help on each other’s farms over the years. Most recently, he purchased a 1949 Farmall H last year.

When he’s not working on the life-sized antique tractors, he’s recreating them out of old Singer sewing machines. Yup, you read that right.

“Several years ago I saw one made from a sewing machine at a fair, and I thought I would try it,” he says. “Now, 25 or so later, I’m still making them. Businesses have requested certain models and people request for presents; I just enjoy it.”

Jim’s great-grandmother, Alice Cupp, purchased the 194-acre farm in March 1920. As the fourth generation, Jim, 79, is still actively running the farm. Some additional barns and grain bins have been added, but for the most part the farm hasn’t changed much.

He raises corn, beans, wheat, hay, straw and beef cattle, forgoing the hogs and chickens that once occupied the farm.

His tractors serve as offseason projects in the winter. Is his collection complete? After he finished his 12th restoration, he said he was done. Look how that went. It’s a hobby for him, and he loves spending time making things.

“So, if the opportunity comes up and it interests me, I’m probably not going turn it up,” he says.

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