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Ripon High student takes 1st in restoration
Ean Richards
Ean Richards proudly displays his restored first-place milling machine on Tuesday during AgFest. - photo by Photo Contributed

STOCKTON – Ean Richards took on the challenge of restoring an old milling machine.

That was about five months ago or shortly after his Ripon High Ag teacher Ryan Patterson – a.k.a. “Mr. P” – came across abandoned 1976 model all-purpose shop machinery.

“My Ag advisor Mr. P found it in a field back in January,” said Richards, who will be a junior at RHS. “It was in terrible shape.”

At Tuesday’s San Joaquin AgFest Junior Livestock Show and Auction, his rebuilt and fully-operational milling machine took first place.

“I finally finished it on Saturday – it came close to crunch time,” Richards said.

The seven-day AgFest opened Sunday at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds. Featured are 4-H and FFA members with projects from throughout the county – included are beef, swine, goats, sheep, rabbits, and dairy, to name a few (feathered animals such as chicken and turkey are out for this year due to a chicken being tested positive with the virulent Newcastle Disease).

Spokesperson Molly Watkins noted that there were 1,334 entries in this year’s AgFest. She’s one of many volunteers for this non-profit organization created in 2013 to allow for 4-H and FFA members to show their livestock and vocational projects.

Richards’ milling machine, meanwhile, was featured among the vocational projects – namely, welding, wood, plants and vegetables – in the exhibit building.

He’s comfortable learning by doing.

Richards was more than up for the task of rebuilding the milling machine even though he knew there would be some trial and error along the way.

Not all parts attached to the as-is (rust and weathered parts) milling machine matched up. “Whoever had it before used a bottle cap (on one of the plates) instead of a washer,” noted Richards, who took practically everything apart including the motor.

Making all the necessary came up to the equivalent to about $500 in repairs (although Richards didn’t spend too much out of pocket) not to mention about 95 hours of time and effort – his link provides photos of the project from start to finish.

“I put in new electrical and other stuff. Mr. P helped out with the painting,” Richards said.

He plans to attend Texas A&M to study Agricultural System Management after graduation.

As for the milling machine, his advisor Mr. P agreed to pay him for his services.

“This turned out to be a fun project,” said Richards, who also a junior board member for AgFest.

Admission is free daily before 10 a.m. at the AgFest that takes place at the county fairgrounds through Saturday. Parking is $10 per car.

For more information on AgFest, log on to