Collectors enjoy restoring,
displaying their antique tractors
Area shows offer glimpse
into our agricultural history
|2013 April Edition
(April 2013) – Bill Ford is intrigued by American history and genealogy. His love of history has fueled his desire to collect antique farm tractors for the past 20 years.
The Madison, Ind., resident says it’s important to preserve a heritage that has made America what it is today. As a collector of primarily John Deere and Allis Chalmers tractors, he said it is the “quality merchandise” that he seeks when purchasing tractors for his collection.
Ford, 77, has the first Allis Chalmers tractor his father ever owned. “My dad bought it new in 1950. It’s currently being restored.”
Having done some tractor restoration work himself, Ford said he is “fascinated with machinery in general.” He has also collected some related farm items as well.
Having grown up on a farm, Ford said he appreciates the convenience tractors brought to the farm. One of the farms he owns has been in his family since the 1850s.
Although he’s not as active in the club now, Ford is a member of the Jefferson County (Ind.) Antique Machinery Club. He also participates in the Neavill’s Grove Association’s tractor show, to be held this year on Aug. 30-31 and Sept. 1 in Smyrna Township, just north of Madison.
Photo courtesy of Calvin Miles
This Massey Ferguson 50 is
owned by Billy Joe Robbins
of Carrollton, Ky. He purchased
this tractor new and farmed with
it through out the years His sons
and son-in-law, have restored
the tractor with Billy Joe's help
he still uses and displays it today.
It is among many antique tractor shows held each year in the region, including those in Madison (Tractor Supply Tractor Show in June) and Osgood, Ind. (Southeast Indiana F.A.R.M. Club show in June) and others in the nearby Kentucky towns of Bedford (Trimble County Apple Festival in September), Carrollton (Pioneer Power Antique Tractor Club Show in May) and Shelbyville (Salt River Antique Power Association show in June).
Chuck Heck remembers his grandparents farming with two old Farmall tractors. Memories like these are what many antique tractor collectors love to share with others and it’s what keeps them buying and restoring and displaying these colorful machines.
Heck, 60, is a member of the Southeast Indiana F.A.R.M. Club, which has members throughout southeastern Indiana. The club has a membership of “nearly 300 families,” said Heck, all of whom share a fascination for old farm implements.
Since the mid-1990s, Heck has been a member of the club. “At the time, Southeast Indiana did not have any antique tractor clubs,” said Heck. “We saw a need for one and put our heads together.”
Photo courtesy of Mark Diekmann
This row of tractors was on
display at last year’s Southeast
Indiana F.A.R.M. show at Ripley
County Fairgrounds in Osgood,
Ind. This year’s show is
set for June 28-30.
This is a hobby where “you meet the nicest people,” said Heck. He and his father-in-law were both on the Dearborn County Fair Board and decided they would like to include antique tractors in the fair. They soon found many people who shared their interest.
Heck said the club grew to70 members very quickly. Members now are from Dearborn, Ohio and Ripley counties in Indiana, and from as far away as Columbus, Ind., Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. Their first shows were held in Lawrenceburg, Ind., before moving to Osgood six years ago.
What began as a hobby has turned into a passion for Heck and his wife, Sherri, who “is a very active member of the club,” he said. Since the early ’90s, they have collected International Harvesters and now own 12.
Half are in their original condition and half have been restored by Heck. One of his favorite restorations is a tractor that “helped build the levy around Lawrenceburg after the 1937 flood. The (U.S. Army) Corp of Engineers built the levy.” Heck’s oldest tractor is a 1923 McCormick Dearing 1530 that he purchased in Bedford, Ind.
The Southeast Indiana F.A.R.M. Club holds a large two-day show the last weekend in June at the Ripley County Fairgrounds. This year, the club will feature International Harvesters.
Crestwood, Ky., resident John Ball was born in Rush County, Ind., and has fond memories of his grandmother’s farm there. He collects antique gasoline engines and owns four, two of which have always been owned by his family.
File photo by Don Ward
Bill Ford of Madison, Ind., collects
and restores John Deere
and Allis Chalmers tractors.
“One was used on my grandmother’s farm to pump water for the livestock,” said Ball, 60. “Another one my dad bought new in 1938 and was the power for a grain elevator, putting corn in the crib and hay in the barn.”
A third engine has been owned by his family for 40 years. The fourth he bought. “My dad was one of he very early members of the Pioneer Engineer Club of Indiana at Rushville.” He said his father owned 35 tractors when he died.
Ball has been a member of the Antique Iron Club, based in La Grange, Ky., for the last several years. The club, now part of the Oldham County Historical Society, “gives you the opportunity to be around people with like interests. You can show and share what you have with others,” he said.
At the shows he attends, Ball said there is “a mix of ages” in attendance. “It’s always a lot of fun.” The club will hold their first exhibit of the year on April 27 at Tractor Supply Co. store in La Grange.
Steve Scheriffus, also a member of the Antique Iron Club, along with this wife, Theresa, has been collecting for the past decade. “I like all brands,” said Scheriffus, whose current collection of 10 tractors includes Internationals Harvesters, Case and Olivers. He said he began with John Deeres and has bought and sold several tractors while interested in this hobby.
“I enjoy anything with engines and wheels,” said Scheriffus. He also owns several sets of drag type plows used in the spring and fall for Plow Days, an event sponsored by the Antique Iron Club each year on different farms.
Photo by Don Ward
John Streible of Crestwood, Ky., poses with one of his prized possessions, a 1939 John Deere Model L. He owns five antique tractors, four of which he has restored himself.
Scheriffus, 70, grew up on three acres in Jefferson County, Ky., where his family had a cow and some goats, and also grew their own food. He now has farms in Spencer County, Ky., and one in Indiana and lives in Middletown, Ky.
He was first a member of the Shelby County-based Salt River Antique Power Club, of which he is now treasurer. Friends encouraged him to join Oldham County’s Antique Iron Club.
The farthest Scheriffus has ever traveled to buy a tractor was Texas. “It’s a fun hobby,” he said. The oldest tractors he owns are a 1942 John Deere Model B and an International M.
“We have members of all ages, from their 20s to 80s and one close to 90,” said Antique Iron Club member Gene Crady. The club has been together for about eight years and has 35 members. “There’s a lot of family commitment and involvement.”
Crady, who lives in La Grange, said his oldest tractor is a 1923 McCormack Dearing. He owns 17 different types of tractors and also has tobacco setters and a BF Avery two-row corn planter.
“Everybody has a special interest,” said Crady. “It’s a good way to fellowship and meet folks in the community.”
Fellow Antique Iron Club member John Streible has been collecting tractors for the last 12 years. Streible, 72, lived on a farm until age 9, and then moved to Crestwood, Ky. He and wife, Lula, own five John Deere tractors, four of which he has restored himself.
His oldest is a yellow 39-L that “took me a year to do,” he said. Streible, now retired as a self-employed brick layer, “took it completely apart, sandblasted it and put it back together.” He says that of his collection of tractors, the yellow 39-L always attracts the most attention at the shows he attends.
He travels with the club to a lot of shows to give others the opportunity to see a piece of history restored. A 1942 John Deere LA belongs to his wife. For the last 12 years, the couple has also belonged to the Pioneer Power Antique Tractor Club of Carrollton, Ky.
The club holds a show each May in Carrollton and will hold it this year on May 10-12 at the KOI Auto Parts parking lot on Highland Avenue. In addition to the tractor exhibits, there will be working demonstrations of antique farm machinery and a pancake breakfast hosted by the Carrollton Rotary Club.
The Pioneer Power Antique Tractor Club was “originally formed by active and retired farmers,” said member Calvin Miles. “We saw the need to get some of this older equipment out and pass along our knowledge and history of it.” His brother and sister–in-law, Randall and Debbie Miles, and his mother, Mary Louise Miles, are all members.
A collector for years, Miles, 54, said he will have several tractors in the show: a 1952 Farmall Super M that was made in Louisville, Ky.; a 1953 Farmall Super H; a 1959 Farmall 460; and 1959 Massey Ferguson 35. He still has two of his father’s tractors. His favorite is a 1955 Farmall 300 that his father, Roy Miles, purchased new in 1956.
“Me, my brother and my sister grew up on it. I’ve farmed with it all of my life,” said Miles.
Madison, Ind., resident Richard Cart collects Oliver tractors. He grew up on a farm in the western part of Jefferson County, Ind., and collects other farm implements and restores antique tractors.
He has 15 Olivers and 30 pieces of equipment and has turned his hobby into a full-time restoration business. Cart has “restored tractors for people all over the Midwest,” he said.
Cart, 55, is a member of the Oliver HPOCA (Hart-Parr Oliver Collectors Association) and is trying to form an area chapter, the Ohio River Valley Chapter. He said he is trying to get a summer show in Madison, at which 6,000-8,000 people could possibly attend. This would be a boost to the local economy, he says.
He recently attended the National Oliver Show. There can be upwards of 10,000 people at a show, he said.
Cart is also president of the Jefferson County Antique Machinery Club. Members collect a variety of antique tractors and equipment, and hold an annual show at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds during the fair. Their goal is to “get young people involved.”
His favorite tractor that he still farms with is a 1968 Oliver 1950 T model. “It was the first Oliver made with turbo,” Cart said.
Avid collectors like Cart often join local vintage tractor clubs to prove to future generations how important farming was and still is to everyone.
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