Elkhorn couple restoring and saving ag history

Elkhorn’s Lynn and Vicki Tutthill can’t get enough of heavy machinery at work.

Their passion for industrial and agricultural work vehicles also resides at home and in the shops and yards of friends from Elkhorn to Redvers, Sask.

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Lynn Tutthill is part owner of Tutthill Construction, where a yard full of track-hoes, backhoes, skid steers, dozers, trucks and trailers tower over him every day. Now that he’s semi-retired, he is returning to the machines that truly ignite his passion; the forefathers to the giant trucks and tractors that surround him at work.

The Tutthills collect and restore antique farm and industrial equipment. They currently hold more than a dozen tractors, 10 crawlers (including an original from the historical DEW Line protection zone), two steam engines, various trucks, swathers, combines, loaders and more.

“I’ve been interested in tractors since I was a kid. I used to hang around with my dad when he’d go on junk hunts and bring stuff back for the (Elkhorn) Antique Auto Museum,” Tutthill says, adding that his father Bernard was friends with the museum’s founder, Ike Clarkson. Tutthill himself maintains that connection to the museum as a member of its Restoration Club.

After sporadically participating in the hobby for 14 years, Tutthill jumped in fully with the purchase of a 1912 Gaar-Scott steam engine in 2014. After completing its restoration, it became the pride of the fleet. The couple runs the tractor at demonstrations throughout southwest Manitoba, including at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum in Austin, Man.

In 2015, the Gaar-Scott won the museum’s Thresherman’s Reunion and Stampede “Best Dressed Steam” award in recognition for its restoration, paint job and overall appearance.

The rest of the Tutthill collection includes Massey Fergusons, Cockshutts, Chevrolets, Fords, McCormick Deerings, a Russell – the horse-drawn predecessor of the Caterpillar – Industry International, John Deere and others. Their makes range from the 1912 Gaar-Scott to pieces from 1920s to the 1960s.

The newest item is actually contemporary compared to the rest of the collection. Vicki received a 1980 Camaro Z-28 for her birthday and it has become her prized possession.

“It’s 100 per cent original and in mint condition,” says Vicki, who also works at Tutthill Construction.

“I’ve always had a love for heavy equipment and have been in construction since I was a teen, as well. As an operator myself, I enjoy all of these things and we (she and Lynn) seem to be a good fit together.”

But it’s more than just the machinery that draws the couple towards the hobby. Tutthill says most of the people involved in tractor restoration are knowledgeable, tight-knit, helpful and generous.

“When you’re out on these old tractors with a bunch of guys with the same interests, there’s great camaraderie. Plus, we are keeping history alive,” he said.

The Tutthills hope to pass on this penchant for historical conservation. The goal is to get enough pieces of equipment for their children and grandchildren to ride in the Elkhorn Canada Day Parade.

© Virden Empire-Advance