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Published August 27, 2010, 12:00 AM

Old tractors keep man busy

Retirement hobby grows into big project
Gardner, N.D. - What started as a retirement hobby became a passion for Bert Borgen.

By: Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, INFORUM

Gardner, N.D. - What started as a retirement hobby became a passion for Bert Borgen.

The 79-year-old Moorhead resident began restoring tractors in 1995.

Borgen was retired after 35 years of farming and looking for something to fill his time.

“I’m not good at sitting around the house. I feel best when I’m out here,” said Borgen from his shop near Gardner.

He taught himself how to repair, sandblast and paint the tractors, using “trial and sore fingers.”

Borgen restores about five tractors a year, some years as many as nine.

He recently completed his 100th tractor but didn’t stop there. In all, he has restored 104.

“I think it even surprised me when I finally sat down one day and just counted what I’d done,” Borgen said. “I had no goals. It was something to keep me busy.”

In all, Borgen owns about 60 of the tractors he’s restored.

“You get kind of attached,” he said.

Many are stored in buildings on his property near Gardner. He has some on display outside, occasionally drawing attention.

“I get a lot of company. They see the tractors and they’ll turn around and come in the yard,” Borgen said. “Some days I don’t do anything but visit.”

Fifty-two of the tractors Borgen owns are John Deere.

“We’re kind of partial to John Deeres,” Borgen said.

His oldest tractor is a 1924 International that belonged to his father-in-law.

His oldest John Deere is from 1926 with rare nickel flywheels.

Borgen has displayed some of his tractors at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, Minn.

This fall, he plans to haul two tractors to Big Iron Farm Show on the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo Sept. 14-16.

During the spring, summer and fall months, Borgen spends most days at his shop, unless he’s out fishing.

That means a lot of sandwich lunches for his wife, Elaine, to prepare.

“It keeps him out of my house,” she said.

Borgen doesn’t have immediate plans to restore more tractors, other than doing some work on some of his earlier tractors.

But that could change.

“Maybe Elaine will buy me another tractor,” Borgen said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590