Doug Hoschke has spent a lifetime gathering pieces of local farming history and enjoys showing off the working machines.
Doug Hoschke has spent a lifetime gathering pieces of local farming history and enjoys showing off the working machines. Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advoc

Vintage Machinery Museum plans for future

Vintage Machinery Museum's President, Doug Hoschke has been waiting for almost 30 years for a permanent home for his beloved machinery.

And for all of that time, the retired farmer's sheds and paddocks have housed a steadily-growing collection of the agricultural machinery and tools that developed the farms, orchards, dairies, plantations and sawmills of the Coffs Coast and the Clarence Valley.

Doug and the other members of OVMM Inc. are now poised to sign a licence agreement with Coffs Harbour City Council which will give them 2100 square metres (almost two acres) of land in Mastons Rd at Karangi for their museum, while a development application for a building has been approved.

Once the licence is signed, the next challenge will be raising funds for the building, because most of the machinery would deteriorate if subjected to the weather, although there are plans for massive pieces like a log hauler and rock crusher to be displayed outdoors.

This is not your average museum - it is based in a rural area; it is devoted to working machinery rather than static exhibits and it is a member of the Men's Shed Association as well as a member of the National Historic Machinery Association NHMA).

"People don't understand that every men's shed is different," Museum member and former Canberra resident Ron Page said.

' For example this one deals in mechanical engineering and things and the one in Canberra is a 'gab fest' and does trips to rose farms and Floriade."

"They all get men together to talk."

Ron, a retired public servant, who collects old tools and whose father ran a trucking business, is also the Secretary of the NHMA and has a special interest in the backgrounds of the different machines and how to display them.

"I like just watching these simple old machines operate and I do a bit of research to see who made them and what went with them - some had their own tool kits- Lister Moffat Virtue made their own spanners with specialised shapes, for instance.

"Over the years we've lost so much - German and American collectors have come to Australia and bought up old machinery by their makers, because they have been able to offer so much money for them."

Member Chris Dunkin, a former graphic designer, said he liked the historical side of the machinery and passing on the farming history of the district at displays and events.

"At the Fair, young kids come along and they will stand there for half an hour watching the little corn cracker," Chris said

Members mount displays of the Museum's working machinery at events, particularly the annual Orara Valley Fair.

New Museum member Kevin McGuigan grew up on a farm. The motor mechanic, who had his own mechanical repair business in Coffs Harbour for some years, even likes the Ransome, the tiny but cranky crawler tractor that was once the backbone of local vegetable growing and banana farming.

"It's a darling little thing - if you can find someone to start it," Kevin said.

"I seem to attract old machinery."

"I appreciate the work it takes to keep it going, I like to see it working and make any adaptions possible to keep it going."

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