I asked Don to contribute a series of articles due to his passion and knowledge of Versatile. I hope you enjoy them. – Jarrod W. Pakosh
My name is Don Wadge, “Versatile Collector and Enthusiast”. I was raised on a farm near Carman, Manitoba in the fifties and sixties. My father began farming in 1947 when I was one year old. He had purchased this farm in the early spring of 1947 and required a tractor very quickly for spring seeding. His choice had been a McCormick-Deering W6, but tractors were very hard to get at this time (either new or used), as returning veterans (of which he was one), the final phasing out of horses for anything other than chores, and the retiring of many of the older steel wheeled tractors had created a high demand for new tractors. Most dealers had waiting lists. My father purchased a Farmall ‘A’ that was sitting on the showroom floor at the local dealer (This tractor was generally considered too small for fieldwork, as row crops were not prevalent at that time in our area). My father seeded a quarter section and did all the fall work with that tractor for the first year. The following spring he acquired another quarter section and seeded the whole half section with that Farmall A. Almost unbelievable today that could be done; but today we have a different perspective on work.
Thus began my love of tractors. I drove that tractor before I could reach the clutch. When we had cattle and pigs, my father used the A for crushing and when he was done he would start me off and I would drive the tractor over to the gas tank where he always parked it. To stop it I would just push the button down to stop the engine. When my father quit farming he gave me that tractor and I still have it today.
When I was about 30 years old I bought a Model L Case for $50.00 which was standing by an old granary at a deserted farm site. The tractor was not seized and I removed the head and ground the valves, refurbished the carburetor and magneto. I scraped the whole tractor with a wood chisel and painted the tractor in its original color with DuPont paint; I also put the pin striping on the fenders. What a beauty! I entered a tractor pull and won first prize in the antique class in my very first pull. I was satisfied with tractor pulling for a while and then I got the disease real bad.
Somewhere in the middle, when my ‘tractor fanaticism’ was at its height, I started thinking it would be neat to find one of the first Versatiles. I had never seen one. 125 tractors spread over the grain belt of the US and Canada makes them few and far between. Eventually, I happened to see a full-page ad for a dealer in Virden, MB in which was listed a D100 Versatile with the used machinery. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I called the dealer and went that weekend to see the tractor and bought it. It was actually in very nice condition. I later purchased a G100 as well.
For a while I was happy just to have the tractor then, after Ford bought out Versatile, I started thinking I should be getting some of the original Versatile literature. Since this time I have acquired some very interesting memorabilia relating to Versatile; pens, rulers, notebooks, mugs, wall plaques, playing cards, thermometers, belt buckles, pins, night lights, watches, promotional pamphlets, posters, etc. and many operators, service and parts manuals.
Recently, Jarrod Pakosh, the author of “Versatile Tractors: A Farm Boy’s Dream”, asked me if I would be interested in writing a series of articles for this web-site on some of the early tractors. I replied that I would be glad to.
I will, at least initially present these in chronological order and will also present some literature and other collectable items. Presently I know of several other Versatile collectors and I am hoping that this series will be both a stimulus and a resource to others interested in Versatile.
If you have experiences, stories or questions please feel free to email me: