Pedal Tractor Pride
Pedal tractor collection born when dumpster yields rare relic
When Ron pulled it out of a trash dumpster, this Case VAC pedal tractor launched a collection. A particularly rare piece, it's the only tractor in his collection he's had restored.
Photo By Bill Vossler
Fratzke owes his pedal tractor collection to a dumpster. “People cleaning out a
house were throwing a lot of stuff into a dumpster,” he recalls. “As we were
going by, we saw this old pedal tractor in there.”
talking to the people who’d pitched the pedal tractor, Ron (who lives in Mora, Minn.) offered $10 for
his dumpster dive, figuring the old pedal tractor might prove interesting.
“When I pulled it out, I thought it was an old Allis-Chalmers,” he says, “but
when I took it to a guy who knows pedal tractors, he said, ‘No, that’s a
not just any old Case, either. Ron had stumbled onto a rare and valuable Case
VAC pedal tractor. Once he realized what he had, he decided to have the piece
restored. It is the only piece in his collection of more than four dozen pedal
tractors to get that treatment. “I don’t usually do that because often they
lose value if they’ve been restored or repainted,” he explains. “But I had a
guy who really knew what he was doing and I wanted the Case to look really
out a category
lucky discovery set Ron on the hunt for more pedal tractors. Despite the fact
that he hit the jackpot with his first pedal tractor, he’s since veered away
from those made by big manufacturers like John Deere, International Harvester
and Ford. Most of those are built of cast aluminum; Ron’s taken a different
direction. “I like the tin or steel pedal tractors because they are different
from what everybody else is collecting,” he says. “And nowadays it seems like
it’s harder to find the tin ones than the cast aluminum ones” — although the
pedal tractor hardest for him to find was what’s called a John Deere small 60.
of the pedal tractors Ron unearths at auctions, flea markets and garage sales
are produced by now-obscure manufacturers he’s never heard of. “When I find a
new and different one, I do research on it so I know something about it,” he
Power Trac Model 502 pedal tractor is a classic example of that. Made by
Universal Mfg. Co. Inc., Olney,
Ill., the tractor sold for $37.95
($293 today) when it was produced in 1961. It was promoted as the companion to
the Deluxe Go Trac and a Buggy Buddy with trailer. According to an old catalog
Ron found, the company also made scooters, trailers and a palomino horse model.
Universal also manufactured Ron’s AMF Power Trac pedal tractor, which is
identical to the Go Trac.
Powerama pedal tractor is an unusual piece. Like most of the other pedal tractors
in his collection, this one is chain-driven from the pedals to the back wheel.
many others, though, this one is finished in a two-tone scheme, white over
orange. It has a single front wheel and small fenders over the rear wheels.
Almost nothing else is known about it. A recent online auction ad showed an
identical “Antique — rare — Garton Powerama” pedal tractor, along with photos
of a child at the wheel.
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