Collecting Southland Power King tractors is a hobby enjoyed by Johnny Self of Hartselle. | Clif Knight

Archived Story

Tractor King

Published 11:58pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Johnny Self of Hartselle has a liking for Southland Econoline Power King garden tractors.

As a matter of fact he has five of the tractors parked in two sheds on his four-acre mini-farm at 1638 Penn Road.

They’re all red and in good working condition. He bought his first one in 1974 and named it “PA.” The second and third acquisitions are named “MA” and “JR” and the fourth and fifth are unnamed.

Is he in the market for more. You bet!

“I buy one about every seven or eight years,” Self pointed out. “But they’re getting harder to come by since production ceased in 1984.”

“I went to a big tractor show in Georgetown, Ohio earlier this year.” he explained. There were 19 Power Kings on display and nine of them were for sale. But they all were early models with manual lifts. At my age (79) I’m not interested in one that doesn’t have a power lift.”

Even though he enjoys collecting the Power Kings as a hobby, Self has a practical purpose for all five of his tractors.

“You can’t beat them for working a garden,” Self pointed out. “They all have a 14 hp Kohler engine and the only difference between one model and another is the size of their wheels. They’re also easy to operate and easy to maintain.”

Self said each of his tractors fulfills a different purpose during the gardening season.

“I’ll put a bush hog on one, a turning plow on another, a middle buster on the third, a disc harrow on the fourth and a cultivator on the fifth. That way I have a tractor ready to go no matter what job needs to be done.”

In February every year, I have my son-in-law come over and help me install the equipment I need and get the tractors ready to go,”

Self grows just about everything, from peanuts and sweet potatoes to tomatoes and turnip greens, in his one-acre garden patch. And when the crops come in he shares the bounty with his neighbors and friends.

Aside from his tractor collection and growing a vegetable garden, Self is probably best known in North Alabama for growing championship quality, long-handled gourds. In 2011, his longest grounds topped out at seven feet and were judged among the best at the Alabama Gourd Festival in Cullman. They barely had room to grow in an eight-foot high arbor and that led Self to build a new arbor 10 feet tall.

Self is also a regular at some of the biggest tractor shows in the nation.

“I receive a big tractor show catalog in February each year and I’ll select about 15 shows that I want to go see,” he pointed out. “Then I’ll make a room reservation at a motel nearby and makes plans to attend.

A local Southland Tractor Club Show that has made his itinerary will be held at 1715 Hwy. 36 East, Hartselle on March 16, 2013.

“I’ll probably take some of my tractors to the show,” Self said. “They won’t be for sale, but I might find one I like and buy it.”

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