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Unsuspecting Customer Buys Rare Cockshutt Tractor

Author Photo
By Bill Vossler

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Henry at the wheel of his 1957 Cockshutt Golden Arrow when it was still a working tractor — before he knew of its real value.
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Henry with his buddies during a spring 2007 meeting of the Cockshutt Club (left to right): Gary Rasmussen, who helped Henry with restoration projects; Henry; Bill Cockshutt, a member of the Cockshutt family; and Cockshutt collector Rodger Zupon.
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Henry’s 1957 Cockshutt Golden Arrow after restoration.
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At shows, Henry hauls his horse-drawn, 1-bottom Cockshutt No. 17A plow in his Model T Ford pickup replica. Henry restored the plow, which dates to the 1890s.

After living in Chicago for 23 years, Henry and Margaret Hummelbeck bought
a hobby farm near Mauston, Wis. “The ‘hobby’ part was hunting whitetail
deer,” Henry says. “That was the closest we could find to Chicago, and it was 220 miles away.”

The Hummelbecks initially
used the old farmhouse as a summerhouse. Eventually, needing a tractor to clear
the driveway in the winter, Henry visited a local implement dealer, only to
discover that the small tractors he preferred for the small acreage were budget
busters. “I looked at Ford tractors and others that size, but those little
tractors were too expensive,” he says. “Then I saw a Cockshutt tractor. I got
the price on it down to $800 and bought it.”

Henry used the tractor to
plow his driveway and do other chores around the farm. When the transmission
went out, he took it in to have it fixed. “That was when I realized what I
had,” he says. “It was a 1957 Golden Arrow Cockshutt.” An experimental tractor,
the Golden Arrow is rare today. Just 135 were made as demonstration tractors.
To show off a new draft-sensing 3-point hitch system, Cockshutt put the hitch,
rear end and transmission of the new model 550 onto a Model 35. The original
intent was to recall all of the Golden Arrows and rebuild them into Model 550
tractors, but many were never returned to the factory.

Restoration
project

The old tractor suddenly
became too valuable a machine to use for farm chores. Henry decided to restore
the machine, turning to the International Cockshutt Club Inc. for help. An
article in the Cockshutt Quarterly, the Cockshutt club’s magazine,
helped him restore his tractor, which he describes as being “in real bad
shape.”

“I took the whole tractor
apart, put on new tires and restored it into mint condition,” he says. “The
only problem now is that I fixed it up so good that I’m afraid to use it and
put a scratch or dent into it. So it’s sitting in the barn. I take it out once
in a while, but I still don’t use it,” he says with a laugh. A new Jeep has
taken over driveway chores.

Hunting
implements

After restoring the Golden
Arrow, Henry started attending Cockshutt shows. There he saw a variety of
Cockshutt tractors and implements and decided to find some Cockshutt implements
for himself.

When Henry attended a
meeting of the Cockshutt club in Ontario,
Canada, he hit
the jackpot: a 1-bottom Cockshutt horse-drawn plow built before the turn of the
20th century. “As soon as I saw it,” he says, “I knew I would have to buy it
right away before somebody else came out of the meeting and bought it.”

The plow, however, was in
poor shape. After dismantling it, Henry was relieved to see that most of the
metal was intact and in good shape. The same could not be said for the plow’s
wood parts; its handles were almost entirely rotted away.

Henry took the plow to area
Amish craftsmen known for their woodworking skills and asked them to make new
plow handles. After sandblasting the metal parts, he consulted a Cockshutt
paint list for the correct number and painted the plow. Though some lettering
had worn away, the original model numbers had been stamped in the metal; Henry
repainted them to help identify the plow.

Cockshutt tractor a crowd
pleaser

People who see the plow at
shows immediately know it’s an old implement. “They have quite a few questions,
wondering where it came from and how come the handles look so new,” Henry says.
“It’s the only 1-bottom Cockshutt plow I’ve ever seen.”

Henry also has a 2-bottom
Cockshutt speed plow he’s restored as a showpiece. The rubber was gone when he
got it, but the plow was in good shape otherwise. He sandblasted and painted
the plow and put on new tires. “These plows come with steel wheels or rubber
tires. I think they are called speed plows just for advertising,” he muses. “Or
maybe they do turn over the earth faster; I don’t know.” FC

For more information: International Cockshutt Club Inc.

— Read about Henry Hummelbeck’s fantasy Ford truck in Homemade Ford Model T Pickup.
Published on Jan 3, 2013

Farm Collector Magazine

Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment