and his Machines
are avid about their hobby
continues to grow,
driving up prices and club membership
(November 2007) Bill Ford loves to take his bright
orange 1937 Allis-Chalmers tractor to shows around the country and show
it off. There were only 96 of them made without an Allis-Chalmers
engine, and I have one of the last ones left, he said.
Indiana Edition Cover
Fords enthusiasm for that tractor and his 25 other
antique tractors is infectious. The Jefferson County, Ind., resident
has been collecting tractors for more than 25 years, and he is not alone.
Across the nation, antique tractor collectors are snatching up the rusty
relics. As a result, membership in antique tractor clubs and participation
in antique tractor shows is exploding.
The trend is noticeable regionally, both in Indiana and Kentucky. Clubs
have grown in Trimble, Carroll and Oldham counties in Kentucky, and
Ripley, Switzerland and Dearborn counties in Indiana. Its rare
these days to attend a local festival and not see a row of brightly
colored, antique tractors on display from some local club.
Many of those collectors say the new zeal for antique tractors has made
the hobby pricier and the old machines harder to find.
Ford, 72, grew up on a farm and became very familiar with old farm equipment.
Tractors are a part of American history, he said. They
represent how this country was developed.
He regularly travels throughout the country to farm shows and auctions
looking for that special one, and he has noticed a definite
increase in collectors and simply admirers of the old farm equipment.
People of all ages seem to really like the old tractors,
he said. I think many of them have some sort of farming history
in their background. Perhaps they grew up on a farm or remember their
Not only does Ford visit six to eight shows throughout
the country, he is a member of the board of directors of Neavills
Grove. Since 1885, the Neavills Grove Association has held the
annual Old Settlers Meeting in late August that features
an antique farm equipment show, arts and crafts, food, entertainment
and a variety of contests.
We regularly have 25 to 30 old tractors on display at the Neavills
Grove event, he said. Weve even had a steam engine
tractor on display there.
Ford finds information about the shows and auctions that he attends
and from the Farm Collectors Show Directory that he
buys at the beginning of each year. It is published by Ogdens
Publication Inc. and lists hundreds of shows and auctions throughout
the country. The guide also provides hundreds of pages of pertinent
information for collectors about their beloved hobby.
County, Ky., Tractor Club
Ballardsville, Ky., resident Gene Crady has been collecting
antique tractors for about 15 years. He is a member of the Oldham County
Tractor Club and the Salt River Tractor Club, based in Taylorsville,
Farm Collector Show Directory
lists these area shows in this region:
Club Antique Tractor and Engine Show, June, Ripley County, Ind.,
Fairgrounds. Visit: www.RipleyCountyTourism.com.
Greensburg Power of the Past, August, Decatur County
Fairgrounds. Visit: www.GreensburgPowerofthePast.org.
Old Settlers Days Festival & Antique Tractor Show,
Salem, Ind. Visit: www.CityofSalemIn.com
Farm Toy Show, Washington County 4H Fairgrounds, Salem,
Ind. (812) 849-5295.
Other antique tractor displays can be found at many area
festivals, including the Trimble County Apple Festival in Bedford;
KOI Auto Parts parking lot in Carrollton; Oldham County Day in
La Grange; Milton Lions Club picnic in Milton; and the Historic
Bethlehem Fall Festival in Bethlehem, Ind.
2007 Farm Collector Show Directory
The Oldham County Tractor Club annually displays at Oldham
County Day on the lawn of the Oldham County Historical Society. The
display is sponsored by the areas Masonic Lodges. This past July,
75 tractors were on display and hundreds of people turned out to see
them. Things turned out great he said.
Crady, too, sees the hobby of antique tractor collecting growing. When
he talks to people at shows or antique tractor parades, many of them
collect because they never had the chance to be a farmer but grew up
around the old tractors. Crady grew up on a farm, and the tractors are
just part of his life.
He owns 15 antique tractors from various manufacturers. I love
collecting the old things because they each have a story to tell,
he said. They also let the youth of the future see the hardships
past farmers had to overcome.
He also said collecting the antique machines is far more affordable
than collecting antique cars because collectors dont have to invest
in licensing and insurance for them.
Also, a collector can buy one of the old relics for as little as $200
or as much as $10,000.
For me, price dictates the sale, he said. Its
really a value judgment when you are out there bartering for them.
Chuck Heck of Aurora, Ind., said he was accidentally
bit by the bug after being appointed chairman of a tractor show
at the Dearborn County, Ind., Fair in the early 1990s. His father-in-law,
Charlie Thies, was on the fair board and thought it would be a great
idea to show older tractors during the event. In asking collectors
to join the show, we met the nicest people, he said. Through
that event, and visiting other shows, we realized how fun collecting
antique farm equipment really was.
by Don Ward
Ford of Madison, Ind.,
with his 1943 Model "H" tractor
Heck, 55, and his wife, Sherri, 50, own 10 antique tractors,
plus many pieces of antique farm equipment, including an antique cider
press, wheat thrasher and hay baler. They prefer to collect International
Harvesters dating prior to 1939, and one of their favorites is an International
During the early years of his collecting, Heck usually found his tractors
through word of mouth. Now, however, the advent of the Internet
has changed things drastically.
You can find tractors for sale on E-Bay and many Internet sites
if you do a search, he said. Unfortunately, as more collectors
have gotten into the hobby, prices have risen because of demand.
Heck helped organize an antique tractor club in Dearborn County, the
Farming Antiques Related Machinery (F.A.R.M.) Club, which has now changed
its name to Southeastern Indiana F.A.R.M. Club because so many of its
members live outside of the country. Although the club started small,
it now boasts more than 250 families as members.
We attract people who dont necessarily live on farms but
who have ties to farming somehow, he said. Most people realize
this is a great way to meet wonderful people and great family fun.
Each year, the club plays host to an annual antique farming show, this
year held at the Ripley Country Fairgrounds in late June.
In Sanders, Ky., near Carrollton, Randal and Debbie Miles
are the proud owners of 45 antique tractors. While they have a variety
of brands in their collection, they prefer Farmalls because of a passion
Randals dad, Roy, had for them. We have the very first tractor
that Roy owned, said Debbie, 45.
by Don Ward
Crady of La Grange, Ky., with his
1957 Model "CA" Allis-Chalmers tractor
The couple has made collecting a family event for the
past 15 years. They travel all over the country searching for that perfect
addition to their collection. At this point, their oldest is a
1929 McCormick Deering 2236.
Randal, 47, said he enjoys collecting because it is a way to preserve
the agricultural history of our grandfathers and is a way to meet other
people interested in the same thing. There is a whole world of
people interested in preserving a bit of our history, he said.
Randal and his brother, Calvin Miles, started the Pioneer Power Club
for antique tractor collectors as a way to keep their father occupied
when he started getting older. Roy died earlier this year, but his passion
for the tractors will live on through his family.
The Pioneer Power Club, which started out with just a few families,
has grown in six years to more than 35 families, with more interested
in joining. According to Debbie, antique tractor collecting has taken
off in the past few years, much like NASCAR did when it first became
popular. Women are very active in our club too, said Debbie,
who is the current president of the club.
Each year the Pioneer Power Club plays host to an annual Mothers
Day weekend tractor show at the Kentucky Motors Showground in Carrollton.
The show has become a popular attraction for area residents and tourists.
In Trimble County, Ky., the Trimble County Klunkers, which
formed about three years ago, has 23 families in it. The club, led by
president Joyce Pyles, meets the second Tuesday of every month at the
Norville Barnes Farmhouse Restaurant in Bedford.
provided by Gene Crady
Carraco of Oldham County rides
his John Deere Model 720 into the
Westport Daze Festival tractor show.
Klunkers Secretary Richard Ginn said last summer the club
showed their tractors at the Carrollton Relay for Life Cancer fundraiser.
They also held three tractor trails events in which the
members meet at a specific point and then drive single-file down various
roads in the country. It is so much fun, he said. People
love to watch us go by. Afterward, the members meet back at the
farm they started at to have a big pitch-in dinner.
Ginn said those tractor trails have really helped boost members. We
added four to six new families this summer alone because they saw the
tractor trails. About 20 tractors have participated in each event.
The late Alton Tingle of Versailles, Ind., was an avid
tractor collector with more than 44 in his fold. Tingle, a farmer, died
last year after a lengthy illness. His brother-in-law, Delzey Thornton,
said Tingle got an old tractor about 15 years ago and became absolutely
hooked on collecting them.
He would search through the countryside looking for the old machines,
said Thornton, 61.
Tingle loved to tinker with them to get them to run but then would store
them away. He had two barns full of them but never showed or sold
any of them, said Thornton. He never did say why he did
People from all around the area would show up at Tingles barns
to simply look at his machines. Many of them were International Harvester
F12, F14, and F30s.
When Tingle died, most of his tractors were sold at auction, but he
gave Thornton a few of them before he died. I would go with him
to find them, and I helped him work on them, said Thornton. I
enjoyed it, too.
Charlie Hetisimer of Vevay, Ind., says he enjoys the hobby because of
the colorful array of people he meets when he travels to shows or auctions.
I have met all sorts, including business owners, and people from
cities, he said. Not all of them have a relationship to
farming; they just like the old tractors.
provided by Randal Miles
rare 1941 John Deere LI is part of
Randal Miles collection in Sanders, Ky.
Only 2,500 were ever made.
Hetisimer owns four tractors that he takes to shows, including
a 1930 McCormick Deering 1020 and a 1935 McCormick Deering International
W30. His rarest tractor is a 1928 Chevrolet Shop Mule. He said only
four are known to exist in the United States. He has five more machines
that he is currently restoring.
Hetisimer is vice president of two tractor clubs, the Southeastern Indiana
F.A.R.M. Club and the Switzerland County Antique Tractor and Engine
Club. The latter club has more than 150 members. He is also a member
of the Chapter Seven International Collectors of Indiana, which boasts
close to 300 members.
He said as more people join in the hobby, the tractors and parts for
them are much harder to find. Most of the time, you hear talk
at a show or around town about a tractor, and thats how you find
them. But if I was seriously looking for a particular tractor, Id
search the Internet.
Jim Abbott of Jefferson County, Ind., is one of the only collectors
who actually sells what he buys. The other collectors said they have
a tough time parting with their treasures. While he likes all types,
his favorite models are the Unstyled As and Bs. They were made before
they began putting brands on them. Those types of tractors have their
radiators out in the open; later model tractors had their radiators
enclosed in sheet metal.
Abbott, 63, loves to restore his antique tractors to show precision
and then put them in parades. This past summer, Abbott took eight of
his restored tractors to parades in Sellersburg, Ind., and Charlestown,
Ind., and won Best of Show trophies. People from everywhere
come up to us and tell us how much they enjoy the tractors, said
tractor collectors (from left)
Roy Hunt of Louisville and Buford
Parrish of Brownsboro, Ky., pose
at a recent tractor show. They
used to buy, restore and sell
the machines in earlier days.
He recently restored a 1944 Model B that originally belonged
to his father-in-law and then gave it to his sister-in-law as a gift.
It took a year and a half to restore it, he said.
Currently, he is working on a 1952 Ford 8N. He is putting a V-8 Ford
Flathead engine in it and will parade it when he is finished.
He said it used to be easy to find the antiques setting along fence
rows or out behind someones barn. But it is now getting harder
as the hobby grows. Now, I travel to swap meets, shows and auctions
to find them, he said.
At this past summers Jefferson County 4H Fair, Abbott was asked
to bring six of his show tractors to display. People loved them so much,
he ended up parading them around the fairgrounds for three nights. He
hopes next years county fair will have an even bigger display.
A search on the Internet will turn up hundreds of sites for antique
tractor and machinery collecting. Many online publications, including
Yesterdays Tractor Co., AntiqueTractors.com, Gas Engine Magazine,
and Red Power are dedicated to serving thousands of collectors worldwide
in their search for tractors and parts.
Back to November 2007