Antique Tractors Put to Work at Summer Farm Show

Implement display at the Salamonie Summer Festival tells complete farm story.

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A Farmall Super M pulling an Allis-Chalmers combine, ready to harvest wheat.

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Have you ever looked for a really different kind of antique tractor show? One that features something other than the usual tractors and field demonstrations? Then perhaps the Warren, Ind., show (put on by the Warren Area Antique Tractor Club Inc.) is the one for you.

Warren offers a "for fun" show located on beautiful show grounds with tractors and equipment circling a rather large man-made lake. Hit-and-miss engines are used to operate various implements, such as burr mills and pump jacks (even ice cream freezers!); steam traction engines operate separators, gas tractors power corn husker/shredders and shellers. Antique cars and trucks, and pedal tractors powered by chainsaw motors, rounded out the display.

The 2007 show was held in late June in conjunction with Warren's week-long Salamonie Summer Festival. During that event, all downtown streets are closed to traffic and pedestrians have easy access to vendors, concessions, arts and crafts, sidewalk sales and flea markets. A parade lasting nearly two hours was a highlight of the week.

Because the Warren club is allowed to use grounds at the Daugherty Companies (a manufacturer of ag-related electronic equipment) free of charge, the club charges neither exhibitors' fees nor gate fees. That brings in friends and neighbors from far and wide.

This year's feature included Centaur, Silver King and Huber tractors. Four Centaur (including one 2-wheel model), two Silver King and four Huber tractors were displayed, in addition to a Huber revolving hay rake made of wood and one Huber separator. Other exhibits included 125 tractors, six antique cars (including a rare Maxwell and an even rarer BMW Isetta 300 - a fuel-efficient car of the 1950s with a motorcycle engine), eight antique trucks, several loads of hit-and-miss engines and a large selection of implements.

Some tractors were still in their work clothes, but they fit right in with the theme of the show: Come as you are. One 1927 Allis-Chalmers tractor was really stubborn. You know how that goes: It starts and runs really well at home, but put it on a trailer and haul it 20 miles to a show and it will not start. When the old AC was half off the trailer where they could get a belt on it, an unrestored Rumely OilPull came to the rescue. Just a few spins of the belt and the old rascal was running and singing a fine tune, music to a visitor's ears.

At demonstrations on Friday and Saturday, volunteers husked and shredded corn with a McCormick-Deering corn husker/shredder powered by a Farmall F-20 tractor. Nearby a Keck-Gonnerman separator was belted to a rare Keck-Gonnerman steam traction engine. In the outfield, a Minneapolis-Moline corn sheller processed several wagonloads of ear corn.

For many, the uniqueness of the show was the number of implements displayed. At many antique tractor shows, it's easy to forget that a tractor is nothing but a power plant: It does virtually nothing by itself. Members of the Warren club believe it is necessary to exhibit examples of equipment used behind tractors by farmers 40-60 years ago.

To ready the ground for planting, one would, of course, need a tractor and plow. Several combinations were shown at Warren, but only one pull-type plow: a 2-bottom Case plow behind a Case SC tractor. Later, manufacturers began to produce mounted plows. They were at the show too: one on a Case 300 and the other on a Ford 2N.

To pulverize the soil, a disc and harrow are in order. Unfortunately, none were on display, although there was one Farmall Super M connected to a 6-foot Towner offset disc.

For seeding, you'd need either a grain drill or corn planter. Look no further. At Warren, an Oliver Model 77 pulled a 4-row Oliver corn planter.

For harvesting, you could see an interesting array of harvesters, including horse-drawn mowing machines and hay rakes, corn and grain binders, hay balers, combines and corn pickers. It was all there. Look for something different at your regular shows. Maybe you won't have to go far from home to see something really unusual!

James N. Boblenz grew up on a farm near New Bloomington, Ohio. He now lives in Marion, Ohio, and is interested in antique farm equipment, particularly rare and lesser-known tractors and related items. Email him at jboblenz@aol.com