2009 North American Massey Expo

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Harry Bowen, Orangeville, Ill., with his 1941 Massey-Harris 202 at the 2009 North American Massey Expo.
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A 1932 Massey-Harris 15-22 GP 4WD with mower, owned by Bob Newman.
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This 1917 Big Bull tractor, owned by Bob Newman, Slater, Mo., was one of the most unique tractors on exhibit at the Platte County show. Featuring a 3-wheel design, in its day the 25 hp tractor found a willing market in both America and England.
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A prototype Massey Ferguson owned by Bill and Judy Parrish, Harrisonville, Mo. Built in 1957, the tractor was tested but never produced. It features a 444 chassis, 555 diesel engine, spin-out wheels, power steering, 3-point hitch and auxiliary hydraulics.
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Manufactured by the Sawyer-Massey Co. in about 1922, the wooden Wallis thresher was put through its paces at the Platte County Steam & Gas Show, threshing two loads of wheat each day. Power was supplied by a 4-cylinder Wallis Cub tractor. A disclaimer in original paint attempts to untangle this thresher’s snarled lineage: “Wallis Thresher manufactured for the J.I. Case Plow Works Co., Racine, Wis., USA, by the Sawyer-Massey Co. Ltd., Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Notice: We want the public to know that the Wallis Thresher is manufactured for and sold by the J.I. Case Plow Works Co. of Racine, Wis., and is not the product of any company with ‘J.I. Case’ as part of its corporate name.”
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One of 240 Massey-Harris I-244 utility tractors manufactured on contract to the U.S. Air Force, this 1956 model was originally equipped with foam-filled wheels and a large magnet designed to collect shrapnel from air bases. The tractor is owned by Charlie Kline, Agency, Mo.
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Massey collector Charles McDonald, Central City, Iowa, displayed his 1940s Massey manure spreader.
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Detail of the disclaimer on the wooden Wallis thresher.
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More than 200 vintage Massey-Harris, Wallis, Massey Ferguson and Ferguson tractors and implements were displayed at the Massey Expo.
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“The Bicycle Man,” Roger Goodrich, brought nine Massey-Harris bicycles to the Expo, including this rare 1896 or 1897 chainless bicycle with a drive shaft, wooden wheels and nickel-plated parts. In the 1890s, Massey merged with three Canadian bicycle manufacturers to form Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd. CCM continued to produce bicycles until 1983, when the firm declared bankruptcy.

August found throngs of Massey enthusiasts heading for the Platte County (Mo.) Steam & Gas Show at Tracy, just outside Kansas City, Mo.

Celebrating its 48th anniversary, the Platte County Steam & Gas Club hosted the 2009 North American Massey Expo, with collectors bringing in more than 200 of the most coveted Massey-Harris, Wallis, Massey Ferguson and Ferguson models to be found.

“We had some of the largest collections of Masseys ever exhibited at any show I’ve attended,” says Charlie Kline, Agency, Mo., event organizer and chairman of the Missouri Massey Collectors Assn. “For example, we had 11 of the 200 Series Masseys displayed on our front line, including 201s, 202s and 203s, the most I’ve ever seen at one time. They only had one of each model at the 150th anniversary Massey show.

“We also had 10 Massey-Harris General Purpose tractors that Massey built after acquiring the Wallis Tractor Co. from J.I. Case Plow Works in 1928. There were two Massey vineyard tractors, including a one-of-a-kind BR 549 experimental model, and 10 Massey-Harris Pony tractors exhibited by Robert and Evelyn Alpers, Stover, Mo. We even had a 3-wheeled Bull tractor, our oldest Massey on display, which was built for Massey by the Bull Tractor Co. from 1915 to 1917.”

200 Series dates to World War II

Charlie, who grew up with his dad’s Masseys, brought 20 tractors from his collection to the show, including a 201, 202 and 203. Massey’s 200 series was produced from 1940 through 1947 in Ontario, Canada. During that time, Massey shifted into production of war materiel and government regulations restricted tractor manufacture, so tractor production runs were modest, particularly of the 201 and 202 models.

All three models have essentially the same running gear, transmission, rear end, wheels and tires, but different engines. The 201 was built with a 240-cubic-inch Chrysler, the 202 with a 290-cubic-inch Chrysler, and the 203 with a Continental 330-cubic-inch engine. None was tested at Nebraska; each was rated as a 4- to 5-plow tractor, a large tractor in the 1940s. The 203 was initially a distillate tractor; the later 203G used gas.

Harry Bowen, a well-known collector from Orangeville, Ill., brought several Masseys to the show, including a 201, 202 and 203. “The first 200 Series Massey I acquired was a 201 I found in Iowa,” he says. “It was in great shape as far as the body and tinwork were concerned, but it had a cracked block, which we were able to drill and pin. Then I found a 202 in Wisconsin in pretty rough shape. But since it’s the rarest one (Massey only produced 223 of that model), we went completely through the engine, did some body work, had it painted and finally brought it back to show condition. Eventually, I completed the set with a very nice restored 203 that I bought from a gentleman in South Dakota. It’s just like I found it, other than new tires.”

Equipment joins display

The display also included vintage Massey farm equipment. Charles McDonald, Central City, Iowa, exhibited a 1940s Massey manure spreader. “I have about 33 Massey tractors in my collection,” he says, “including 22s, 30s, 33s and 44s, as well as a 44 Special, a 444 and a 333. But I still use them on the farm, so most of them are still in their everyday clothes.”

Tom Seaberg, a young enthusiast from Moorhead, Minn., brought a wooden Wallis thresher he owns in partnership with his grandfather. Powered by a 1917 or 1918 4-cylinder Wallis Cub gasoline tractor, the nearly century-old machine still had plenty of muscle as it went to work during the show, threshing loads of wheat.

“We didn’t get much history about the thresher when we bought it, but it was made by Sawyer-Massey Co. (a sister company to Massey-Harris) around 1922 or 1923,” Tom explains. “My grandpa and I bought it a year ago in Tilden, Neb., and the only work we’ve done on it was to replace some wood on the feeder housing. We took it to the national Massey show last year, but this is the first time we’ve run it.”

The Bicycle Man

Attend any major Massey show, and there’s a good chance you’ll meet Roger Goodrich, also known as “The Bicycle Man.” Roger, a collector from Lake Crystal, Minn., has put together a unique collection of 11 Massey-Harris bicycles.

Massey-Harris diversified into the fast-growing bicycle market in 1895, when the company acquired Canadian rights from the Pope Bicycle Co. to produce the Columbia bicycle. The following year, Massey introduced a Gentlemen’s Model 1 and a Ladies’ Model A, both with 28-inch wheels. The men’s model was built on a 23-inch frame and the ladies’ model on a 19-inch frame. Both bicycles sold for $85 (about $2,200 in today’s terms), a bargain compared to average bikes of the day, which sold for $100-110 ($2,500-2,800 today). Two new models were brought out the following year; a year later the line expanded to include three ladies’ models and five men’s models. The bicycles were offered in black or maroon enamel, with wooden rims and all-steel frames. Handlebars and pedals were finished in nickel over copper.

“I started collecting Massey-Harris bicycles about 10 years ago, and I guess my collection is still growing,” Roger says. “It’s a challenge to find them, but it’s a thrill when you do. I went to a swap meet in Canada one day, hoping to find just one, and I ended up coming home with four. I brought nine to this show, including four with wooden rims and five with steel rims.”

One of Roger’s most unusual bicycles is a chainless model with a drive shaft originally made by Pope Bicycle Co. and sold by Massey-Harris. “There are no serial numbers on the bicycles, but I believe it was made around 1896 or 1897,” he explains. “I prefer to keep my bicycles in original condition, but this particular model was repainted at some time, and the pedals have been replaced. Otherwise, it looks just like it did at the factory.” FC

For more information: The 2010 North American Massey Expo will be held Aug. 19-22 in conjunction with the 51st annual American Thresherman Assn.’s Steam, Gas & Threshing Show, Pinckneyville, Ill. For details, contact Kent Jansen (217) 844-2023 (days) or (217) 844-2318 (evenings).
Jerry Schleicher is a country humorist and cowboy poet. He grew up on a crop and cattle operation in western Nebraska, and now lives in Missouri. Contact him at 8515 Lakeview Dr., Parkville, MO 64152; e-mail: gschleicher1@kc.rr.com.
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