Pair of Northwest hobbyists stand tall in old iron hobby
The Lost Dutchman Museum is not a vast building, but every spare inch is pressed into service. The U.S. flag at top is a collectible: It has 46 stars.
Andy Gortsema continues to coax relics of the past back to life. “Last year I said no more restorations. But I’ve got two in the shop right now,” he slyly admits.
Ted Billups still works full-time at a local tractor dealership.
This 1928 Rumely Model X 25-40 is a Billups family tractor. “I can remember that Rumely pulling a threshing machine,” Ted says. “They used it on a stationary thresher at Nezperce. The external gears were completely worn.” The model was produced from 1928 to 1930; just 2,041 were built.
This 1 hp 1915 Sieverkropp was stuck when Andy got it. “I had an awful time getting it loose,” he says. “Then I had to make a new piston and wrist pin.” He also has the engine’s original bill of sale.
Ted’s 20 Buckeye Trundaar. The seat is original; he added John Deere fenders, a fuel tank and dash.
This 1910 Maid of All Work was built by Kneeland Mfg. Co., Battle Creek, Mich. It has a 3-by-3-inch bore and stroke and an open water jacket with 1-gallon capacity.
Restoration of the Lessman was a particularly dirty job, Ted recalls. He’s seen more than his share, including those complicated by others’ inexperience. “If I was in Congress,” he says in a mock growl, “you’d have to take a test to use a welder.”
When Andy bought this 6 hp Ellis at a Spokane, Wash., auction, the piece was a true basket case. The 2-cycle engine (4-1/2-by-4-1/2-inch bore and stroke) has its original fuel tank and flywheel (note the flywheel’s unique finger grips). The engine runs in either direction; it was built by Ellis Engine Co., Detroit, between 1910 and 1915.
This rare 1918 Yuba 10-20, built by Yuba Mfg. Co., Marysville, Calif., is unique to the West Coast. Its tracks run on steel balls (see insert) rather than rollers. It has a clutch and 3-speed transmission and is steered with a steering wheel and differential brakes. Owned by Norman Willson, Colfax, Wash., the Yuba is one of a pair restored by Ted and displayed in his museum.
Designed to pull a 77 mm cannon during World War I, this 1918 5-ton Holt may never have seen battlefield duty. “It has a 30 gas radiator, not a 5-ton radiator,” Ted notes. “Evidently somebody took the radiator and manifold.” The Holt’s tracks are studded with extra cleats. “That’s how they made grousers on the original tractors,” Ted says.
The balls between the tracks on a Yuba 20-35. The balls are a light rust color and arc from the top left to the bottom right.
A hayfork in the foreground; at back, part of a blacksmith’s bellows. Andy’s father suffered a serious injury in a hayfork accident: The fork pierced his neck and when he yelled for help, the helper – out of the line of vision – misinterpreted the call as a command to lift the fork. “They called the doctor but Dad never went to the hospital,” Andy says. “For years after that, you could count his heartbeats by looking at his neck.”
An early grouser on Ted’s 5-ton Holt, made from a cleat.
Andy’s son, Gary, bought this 1954 International pickup and selected the color scheme; Andy and his son, Marvin, restored the piece (including paint) from the frame up.
In the era before diesels, the Cat Thirty was a popular tractor in the Northwest, Ted says. “It was nice to drive but it used a lot of gas; it probably had a 50-gallon fuel tank.”