HODGEMAN COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – A western Kansas man is restoring the old and making it new again by turning a hobby into a business and giving old tractors a comeback.
In the 1980s, Roland Jackson bought his first tractor, an 8N Ford Tractor with Dearborn Loader. Although he loved it, he quickly learned the older model was hard to steer due to lack of power steering. After using the tractor for years, he decided to sell it solely because of the power steering struggles.
Throughout the next several years, Jackson and his son worked on hundreds of tractors together. Although he had attempted many times to install a power steering system on older models, it wasn’t until the late 1990s, he was successful.
In 1999, Jackson became more serious about successfully installing a power steering unit. He designed, assembled, and installed a power steering kit on a Ford NAA tractor.
The attempt worked. With help from his son-in-law, the two built a website and launched the business. Now, Jackson Power Steering officially builds steering kits for old farm tractors.
The kits are designed for makes like Ford, Oliver, International Harvester, and John Deere. He replaces the original steering for hydrostatic steering, meaning there is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and front wheels.
“When you turn the steering wheel one [steering cylinder] pushes, one [steering cylinder] pulls. They both work together to give an even steer,” said Roland Jackson, Inventor and Owner, Jackson Power Steering. “You can steer it with your little finger. Even if the bucket is loaded with heavy dirt, you can still steer it with your little finger.”
He has sold hundreds of kits nationwide, making old tractors functional. “I don’t really work. I just go out in the shop and have fun and then my customers become my friends,” he said.
But more importantly, he has helped older customers be able to use their machines again.
“I get to help people,” he said.
For Jackson, the small tractor shop was less about having a business and more about bonding with his family who has been an instrumental part in helping him in this journey. He says both his son and daughter have been there for him throughout his endeavor.