ORANGE CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Orange City, Iowa is best known for its wooden shoes. But longtime resident Jim DeBoer just might change that. His mailbox offers some insight.
“I started in the mid-70s saving them I’d say. From the mid-70s to now, that’s quite a few years,” said Jim DeBoer.
“I took a video and I county 83,” adds DeBoer.
Nearly five decades of craftsmanship are being displayed in Jim’s basement. He’s not so much a collector of John Deere and other farm equipment, but a creator. Better put, a re-creator.
“I usually try and find a real one at an implement shop or a farmer. I take a picture and measurements of it and then take it home. I draw it out on paper and to scale them, I have to make it,” said Jim.
DeBoer often utilizes what others would likely consider waste.
“Them peach boards that you used to buy had pretty good lumber on there. I used tree limbs for wheels quite often. It’s basically all wood,” said DeBoer. “Mostly just scrap pieces.”
His fascination has been preserved from decades earlier.
“My grandpa owned a little B John Deere. Now whether that had anything to do with it, we moved to the farm when I was 12. Didn’t have too many farm equipment toys yet, so I started making my own,” said Jim. “I was 14-years-old when we bought the tractor. I changed the oil and all that stuff at the time. I did all the tractor work. I don’t think dad hardly drove the tractor. I missed so much school that I just quit.”
His passion for a less powerful piece of equipment has been unfading.
“Went golfing twice. Just never really interested me to go out. Going out for coffee? That really never interested me either… I have to draw it and stuff, when I measure, I write down how long it is and draw it out on other paper to actual size. Once and a while the wastebasket has a few extra parts too,” Jim said.
For parts that do make the cut, the assembly can be tedious.
“Sometimes I think I put in 8 hours a day actually. My two-cylinder is probably 80-100 hours in each one. My Peterbilt semi and sprayer and chopper, I’m sure I have 250 hours in those,” Jim added.
“It would be a lot faster if I didn’t make all the moving parts, I know that. Boom goes out six feet and both sides folded out. Both sides you can lower and raise to different heights,” said DeBoer.
Tiny replicas remind Jim of days gone by.
“It’s getting more of a challenge. Your fingers don’t seem to pick it up like they used to. I’d still like to make two tractors and a zero-turn mower. Got those in my mind. It’s getting to be more of a challenge so if I get them three things made, I might just enjoy what I have,” said Jim.