Ken “Buford” Pedersen, 66, of Jefferson knows his tractors from the inside out.
After all, he’s owned as many as 100 during his lifetime and has restored more than 19 vintage tractors for himself and his father.
“I’m working on restoring my 20th tractor right now, including a few I’ve done a few for my father. In fact, we had the engine running just last Sunday,” he says as he pats the bright red-orange Ford tractor engine and chassis. “We started working on it last November, and we hope to have it operational by the Hot August Nights show.” (The Hot August Night Car, Truck, Motorcycle and Tractor Show is 5 – 8 p.m. Aug. 9 in Jefferson.)
Pedersen, his 6-foot-4 frame clad in an orange T-shirt and bib overalls, loses no stature next to the large engine and chassis. He describes the tractor as a 1950 8N Ford with a V8 flathead-engine. The hardest part will be putting on the tires, which can weigh as much as 200 pounds.
He quickly rattles off the manufacturers of 53 tractors he currently owns, many still waiting to be restored: Ford, Oliver, Farmall, Case, Cockshutt, Minneapolis Moline, Massey-Harris, Silver King, Worthington, Co-op, Avery, an Allis Chalmers road grader and a British-made Leyland. He doesn’t own a John Deere but adds he has helped his father restore four John Deere tractors.
Pedersen insists he doesn’t play favorites with his tractors but says the Leyland is the best one to drive in parades and tractor rides because it has a comfortable seat and gets a whopping 20 mpg.
Anyone who attends Greene County-area parades and events, such as Jefferson’s Bell Tower Festival and the Threshing Bee at Nick Foster’s farm near Jefferson, has most likely admired Pedersen’s tractors. They are finished to a T with paint gleaming. Some are finished as they were originally built, while others are souped up, complete with shining chrome mufflers and pipes.
Pedersen, an electrician by day, restores the tractors with the assistance of friends and family in his off-hours in one of three garages behind his house. “I’ve got the tractors stored in five different locations, but I’ve just finished a new building out in the country where I can store all of them there and in the garages here,” he says.