Vintage is back in business

Vintage Aussie headers are being taken out of retirement

Video
Hugh Macague, 23, Rochester, Victoria with some of his restored vintage headers including a International A8-2, Connor Shea Auto header and David Shearer XP88.

Hugh Macague, 23, Rochester, Victoria with some of his restored vintage headers including a International A8-2, Connor Shea Auto header and David Shearer XP88.

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Rochester farmer, 23, has worked to restore 10 vintage headers.

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Vintage machinery shows are usually dominated by an older demographic but 23-year-old farmer Hugh Macague of Rochester, Victoria is bucking the trend.

Mr Macague has worked to restore 10 vintage headers, getting them up and running to strip a couple hundred hectares of their 2000ha cropping enterprise each year.

His passion lies in Australian-made machines and this year he is attempting to resurrect a 1974 Connor Shea Auto header.

"They're pretty rare birds; there're only 350 of them ever made," Mr Macague said.

"You attach your tractor into the back of it and it becomes a self-propelled header."

Some of Hugh Macague's restored headers put to work. Source: YouTube Hugh_Magoo

The Connor Shea is Mr Macague's newest vintage model, while his oldest is the 1927 Sunshine Auto, one of the first self-propelled harvesters ever made.

"It's in the process of becoming a working header again," he said.

"A crazy amount of work involved in getting them going, but I love it."

He said the principal of a header hadn't changed at all over the years, the vintage models just going a little slower because they don't have the same size capacity.

"A new header is just an enlarged version, but the old headers do do a better job at getting a cleaner sample," Mr Macague said.

Hugh Macague's restored John Deere 1051 pto harvester in action. Source: YouTube at Hugh_Magoo

Mr Macague makes videos of his vintage headers for his popular YouTube channel, which attracts up to 400,000 views.

But, it's not just vintage machinery he's interested in, Mr Macague managed to get his hands on some vintage wheat this season too, planting three ha of 1943 variety Pinnacle wheat.

"It's looking absolutely fantastic, the year's just come through for us," Mr Macague said of the crop.

Croppa Creek Classic Harvest started with one last-minute bid

Up in northern NSW, farmer and mechanic Lawrie Timmins has a different method for showing off his vintage headers. He organises the annual Croppa Creek Classic Harvest event.

Mr Timmins started the event around six years ago, after a last-minute bid got him hooked on header restoration.

"We were at a clearing sale one day and a 1930s Ground-drive Sunshine header was for sale and no one was bidding on it," Mr Timmins said.

"I thought it was too good to go to scrap metal, so I put in a bid and I got it."

The 1930s Fordson tractor and Sunshine header in action at the Croppa Creek Classic Harvest. Photo: Cheryl Timmins

The 1930s Fordson tractor and Sunshine header in action at the Croppa Creek Classic Harvest. Photo: Cheryl Timmins

Mr Timmins said the older models were given a challenge at the Classic Harvest event this year, with the 2020 crop offering up a lot more bulk than recent seasons.

"We had a 1930s model Fordson steel wheel tractor pulling a 1930s Sunshine harvester," he said.

"The old tractor started, but she sounded like she did a bit of a bearing in the gearbox at one stage so we cranked her off and gave her a little rest."

Mr Timmins, who did his mechanic trade on Massey Ferguson machinery, said it was absolutely great to see interest in header restoration from the younger generation.

"We have a few younger blokes in our group who don't own the headers but want to be involved in the action," he said.

"With the new headers they just jump in the cab and hit the buttons, they've got really no understanding of what makes the header work.

"One young bloke hasn't had to do too much inside a header at all, but now with us he's working out how it all works, the fan, the sieve, how much air you've got to have, it's great."

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