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Published February 16, 2011, 03:23 PM

Quonset falls on collection of restored vintage Farmall tractors

Here on the DB Ranch, Darrel Brown looks on at the Quonset that he built nearly 60 years ago to the day. He looks at the roof and the gaping hole this winter has brought on.

By: Ben Rodgers,

RURAL MILLARTON, N.D., — Here on the DB Ranch, Darrel Brown looks on at the Quonset that he built nearly 60 years ago to the day. He looks at the roof and the gaping hole this winter has brought on.

Heavy snow accumulated this winter on the roof of Brown’s Quonset and over the past couple of days, it melted partially and refroze, until the structure collapsed under the weight.

“I’d imagine it melted one day and it probably melted enough to freeze the snow on there and it wouldn’t let it slide,” said the retired farmer.

One of at least five outbuildings on the DB Ranch, this Quonset was thought to be one of the sturdiest because of the rounded roof, said Darrel’s son, Mike Brown.

“We figured it was the last one we’d ever have to worry about,” Mike said.

Almost as bad on the damage to the structure was the damage to what sat inside — six fully restored vintage Farmall tractors. His collection of M and H model machines is from the mid-1940s to the late ’50s.

Farmall eventually became International Harvester and was the only type of tractor Brown used during his time on the farm.

Fully restored, each tractor has a value of between $2,000 and $4,000, Darrel said.

The damage could have been worse but because most tractors were protected by a frame, damage was minimal with a few dented mufflers, steering wheels, seats and some paint chipped off.

The tractors were a hobby but were still being used for simple chores like moving snow and hay or cutting grass.

This year there was plenty of snow removal. As little as a week ago, piles created by clearing snow on the property towered more than 20 feet high.

Darrel Brown said this winter yielded the most snow of any he’s seen during his life in this area.

“This is the worst one, the worst snow,” he said.

The night before Saturday, Darrel Brown had the engine block heater to one tractor plugged in so he could use it to move snow the next day. When he checked the next morning, he saw the damage.

“I was really damn lucky I wasn’t in there,” he said.

Mike and Darrel spent Tuesday trying to clear as much debris as they could from the fallen Quonset before an excavating crew would arrive today and remove the fallen portion of the roof while trying not to damage the tractors.

The building was insured but the contents inside were not. Darrel Brown said he isn’t worried and that he still has three other Farmall tractors in outbuildings that weren’t damaged.

Still, he said he’s going to have a busy spring repairing his antiques and preparing a new home for them.

“I’ll have to build a new one I guess,” Brown said.

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