Finding Minnesota: Red Wing Man’s Model Tractors Show Decades Of Skill, Artistry


MINNESOTA’S RATES ARE TIED TO ITS FARM HISTORY AND A RED WING MAN HAS NEVER FORGOTTEN THAT. HE WAS A FARM KID WHO DEVELOP A LOVE FOR HISTORY AND MOST OF ALL THE TRACTORS USED ON HIS FARM. JOHN LAURITZEN SHOWS US HOW HIS PASSION FOR FARM LIFE TURNED HIM INTO A ONE-OF-A-KIND TOYMAKER WHO IS NOW A MEMBER OF A VERY UNIQUE HALL OF FAME. YOU ARE ALWAYS TRYING TO MAKE THE WHEN YOU ARE WORKING ON BETTER THAN THE LAST ONE YOU DID. Reporter: IT’S BEEN OUT WAY SINCE PETE WAS A KID. HIS WIFE CALLS HIM STUBBORN. HE PREFERS PERFECTIONIST. EITHER WAY THE TRACTORS HE DROVE A KID HAVE TURNED INTO A LIFELONG PASSION. ALMOST EVERY TRACTOR WAS SAFER THAN THE FARM. [LAUGHTER] I HATE TO ADMIT THAT. Reporter: HE LIKED THEM SO MUCH HE BEGAN MAKING TOY TRACTORS FOR HIS BROTHERS. THEN WHEN HE GOT MARRIED AND HAD KIDS, HE STARTED MAKING THEM FOR HIS SON. I HAD A LOT OF DUDS. THINGS THAT I STARTED — WE NEVER — WE DIDN’T FINISH IT. BUT LIKE A GOOD FARMER HE PLOWED THROUGH. HE WENT TO GREAT LENGTHS AND GREAT DETAIL TO GET THE MODEL TRACTORS JUST RIGHT. I WOULD USUALLY GO TO A SALVAGE YARD, TAKE MY TAPE, MEASURE THEM, AND THEN STICK THOSE MEASUREMENTS AND A CALCULATOR AND GET A DOWNSIZED 1/16. BY THE LATE 70s HE WAS IN BUSINESS.’S COLLECTORS STARTED NOTICING NOT ONLY HIS JOHN DEERE’S BUT OTHER TRACTORS TOO. HE — HIS SKILLS AT AN ALUMINUM FOUNDRY TALKING SKILLS THAT DROVE HIS PERFECTIONIST WAYS. A LOT OF THE CUSTOM BUILDERS DIDN’T MAKE STEERABLE TRACTORS. THEY ARE DURABLE AS WELL, STANDING THE TEST OF TIME. HIS BUSINESS HAS COME FROM WORD OF MOUTH THAT SPREAD. CUSTOMERS AS FAR AWAY AS NEW YORK CITY COME TO HIM. UNLIKE SOME OF HIS TRACTORS HE IS A RARE ARTIST. THE LOST WAX CASTING METHOD HE USES HIS ALMOST NONEXISTENT TODAY, WHICH IS WHY WHEN HE SAW SOMEONE SELLING A TRACTOR ON eBAY THAT HE MADE MORE THAN 30 YEARS AGO, HE PAID TO GET IT BACK. YOU SAW THIS AND YOU THOUGHT, THAT IS MY TRACTOR. I KNEW IT WAS MY TRACTOR YES . OVER HIS CAREER, HE HAS HANDMADE NEARLY 4000 TRACTORS. SOME HAVE SOLD FOR HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS. SO HAVE THE RAILCARS HE HAS MASTERED AND LAST MONTH PICO — PETE WAS RECOGNIZED FOR SIX DECADES OF WORK — HE WAS IN — INDUCTED INTO THE HALL OF FAME IN IOWA. I COULD TAKE IT WHEN I WAS YOUNGER BUT NOW — MY MITT — MY LEGS ARE SHOT. KIND OF LIKE BRETT FAVRE. WE BOTH GOT INDUCTED INTO THE HALL OF FAME THE SAME YEAR. [LAUGHTER] YES THEY HAVE THAT A COMMON. HE AND HIS WIFE ARE BIG FAVRE FANS. HE SAYS THEY WILL SLOW DOWN NOW, DOING JUST SOME CUSTOM WORKS — BUT MANY OF THE TOYS

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