Orphan Tractors Find Homes
(Page 2 of 3)
"Last year, we had 150 tractors at our county fair, plus lots of other antique equipment," he says.
Kenneth also has restored a 1947 B.F. Avery Model A tractor, and plans to restore a 1948 B.F. Avery Model V.
Avery and other brands are related to the Cleveland Tractor Co., founded in 1917 by Roland H. White, according to a 1992 edition of Tru-Draft Magazine. In 1941, General GG purchased B.F. Avery & Sons Co. from Cleveland, then sold Avery in 1951 to the Minneapolis-Moline Company. Cletrac (crawler tractors) was sold by Cleveland to the Oliver Corporation in 1944.
Then, in 1969, Avery and Cletrac were acquired in a merger, forming White Farm Equipment Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of White Motor Co. Interestingly, White was founded by Roland H. White, also founder of the Cleveland company. Like seed and biotech companies of today, tractor maker histories can be complex, yet interesting, to collectors.
Carl Hering, Cayuga, N.Y., started the Empire Tractor Owners Club in 1993. The Empire tractor was made from late 1946 to early 1949.
"My idea is to locate as many Empire tractors as possible," he explains.
"My company is called Empire Agri-Systems, so when I first saw an Empire at a car show in Georgia in 1991, I just had to have one," Carl says. "I finally located two near Fillmore, N.Y., with the help of 'Bump' Hamilton, who operates an old tractor museum in Cuylerville. I combined those two tractors into one real nice Empire that we use at local trade shows as a kind of company mascot. It sure draws a lot of attention."
Carl says Price Stevens of Gardiner, Maine, provided a starter list of Empire owners. The club now has more than 120 members in more than 30 states and three Canadian provinces. More than 125 Empires have been located, and are registered by serial number. Carl says the company made about 4,000 tractors, so there should be several more "out there."
"The tractor was originally made to be exported for the Lend-Lease program after the War," he says. "We believe more than 2,000 were sent to Argentina and other South American countries. The tractor proved not to be well suited and in turn, several distributors were set up in the U.S. and Canada to sell the excess production."