Ben McArthur


FOOD vans, trucks, cars, steam engines, more than 100 tractors and a thousand people visited Longford last weekend to watch the Vintage Tractor Pull.

The event’s coordinator, Iain Wade, explained the name Vintage Tractor Pull comes from a different type of unique sport in which antique tractors pull a heavy sled.

“The tractors go into classes, and the further the sled is pulled, the more resistance the tractors receive,” he said.

“And the one that pulls the furthest wins that class.”

In more populated areas around Australia, a tractor pull uses more advanced equipment and weights developed specifically for it, but in Longford, they pour concrete into plastic containers and put the weights in two positions at the trolley in the top at the back and on the bottom at the front.

The back weights are connected to cables pulled by the tractor, and as it gets pulled closer to the front, slowly shifts weight towards the front and incrementally increases resistance.

The largest sled (called the ‘Old Poppa Stoppa’) at Longford weighed eight tonnes, but there were other sleds there including one for kids.

One competitor, Steve Harley, explained there was little strategy during the event than simply driving it. Only before the day is where you can increase the distance through weight distribution, as the tractor pull has different classes based on horsepower, not tractor weight.

The rules require the vintage tractors to maintain their original design and function, but that doesn’t necessarily ban modification entirely.

One allowed example of this is you can add more weight to the tractor to cause friction or drop the tyre pressure to create traction. To maximise his odds, Mr Harley added a wheel weight to his 1951 David Brown Crop master, adding more pressure to the ground. The rules allow this because the weights are an original part of the tractor.

“Back in the day, farmers would have added weight to the tractor and done this to make it perform better,” he said.

Mr Wade said that event’s appeal comes partially from the region’s history and farming heritage.

“And there’s also that thrill of restoring that rusty tractor that’s been in the paddock for 20 years and making it run again and taking it to (the) show’s (to) display with the family along,” he said.

The tractor pull began on Saturday afternoon, with demonstration pulls under lights at 4pm. Owners began incrementally arriving in Longford a few days before showing up with about every type of engine configuration: big single-cylinder Bulldogs, twin-cylinder John Deeres and Chamberlains, 3 and 4-cylinder 2-stroke GM diesels, and inline 6-Internationals.

Event organiser Iain Wade repairing a tractor. Photos: Ben McArthur