John Deere at Kalamazoo Valley Antique Engine and Machinery Show

John Deere displays pack Kalamazoo Valley Antique Engine and Machinery club show.

| December 2013

  • Tom O’Connor’s fully restored Model 42 John Deere pull-type combine.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • A sea of green and yellow as far as the eye can see. The show attracted nearly 800 John Deere exhibits including more than 600 tractors.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • This 1945 John Deere BR and John Deere check wire planter dating to the early 1940s were displayed by Paul and Janet Doughty, Conesville, Ohio. “I check-planted corn when I was 12 or 13,” Paul recalls. “We had a horse planter then. You would see how good a job you could do. You had to remember to keep steady tension on the line.”
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Sharon Schut, Byron Center, Mich., handcrafted this replica of a 1937 John Deere Model D. “This is my favorite tractor,” he says. “My uncle had a 1928 D. I remember hearing it from the window of the country school.” He also displayed intricately detailed, hand-made replicas of a 1918 Dain hayloader and wagon with John Deere running gear.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • This 1958 John Deere 420 RC LP was used for flame cultivating or spraying tall crops like cotton, corn and milo. One of just 225 420 LP gas Row Crops built, this is the only John Deere converted to a Vick’s Hi-Crop by Vicks Mfg., Plainview, Texas. It’s owned by Hyler Bracey, Taylorsville, Ga.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Jack Beck’s 1928 John Deere GP (left) and 1930 GP. To preserve traces of original paint, Jack mixes Fluid Film with mineral spirits. “I just spray it on and wipe it off,” he says. “I use a hand-pump sprayer with a fuel filter in the discharge line.”
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Jack enjoys restoring antique tractors and implements to working order. “They’re still tractors,” he says, “and tractors were made to work.” His 1928 GP is paired here with a John Deere No. 45C plow.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Hamilton Halford’s 1960 John Deere 330U is painted orange, just as it was when it left the factory, a custom order for a state highway department. “When I first saw it after it was painted, I had to put on a welding helmet, it was so bright,” he says with a grin.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Elwood Vanek with his 1959 John Deere 330U, also painted orange at the factory.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Some of the restored John Deere implements on display at the show. Tom O’Connor’s John Deere No. 68 auger wagon is at far left.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • A collection of seed and feed sacks made a great backdrop for three gas engines, all displayed by John Herman, Ceresco, Mich. From left: a 1915 United 1-3/4 hp Type A, a 1924 1-1/2 hp John Deere E and a 1948 International LB.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • John Deere Patio Series lawn and garden tractors.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Steve Matthys had this rig — a 1953 Oliver OC-6 and sprayer — restored as a birthday surprise for his dad, Ron.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Doug and Carl Ballard. Doug restored the 1904 4-1/2 hp Olds gas engine (serial no. B9152) his grandfather, George Ballard, bought in 1906.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • This 4-1/2 hp Type A No. 3 Olds engine (made by Olds Gas & Power Co., Lansing, Mich.) was built in 1904. “As far as we know, it was never taken apart or overhauled,” Doug says.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Herman Kruger’s custom-made Case orchard tractor replica.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Herman’s 1983 Case 220 garden tractor is showroom new: It has never been fueled.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus
  • Herman’s Case 220 garden tractor has never been out of the crate.
    Photo By Leslie C. McManus

For the John Deere enthusiast, the Kalamazoo Valley Antique Engine & Machinery Club show in June was about as good as it gets. With nearly 800 exhibits (including more than 600 tractors), the club’s John Deere feature hit the ball out of the park. Rare tractors, common tractors; restored, unrestored, original; combines, wagons, implements, pedal tractors, toys, models, memorabilia, gas engines, you name it, if it was green and yellow, it was there.

Actually, if it wasn’t green and yellow, it was probably there too. The show attracted a lively mix of categories, including tractors, gas engines and garden tractors. Held at the Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, Mich., the show had an unusually interesting backdrop. Eight restored historic barns house one of the nation’s finest collections of automotive history, including 200 rare and immaculately restored vehicles. The complex also includes a 1930s-vintage service station, a small town train station and a 1941 diner. A recreated 1929 Ford dealership, collections of pedal cars, motorcycles and more are among the highlights of the beautifully landscaped facility.

More than three miles of paved roads wind through the complex. During the Kalamazoo Valley show, they flowed with a happy mix of classic automobiles, trucks and tractors. Among the standouts:

“If it runs good, leave it be”

There are restored tractors in Jack Beck’s collection, but their allure has faded a bit lately. “I’ve really gravitated to originals,” he says. “They only look this way once.” Jack, who lives in Omaha, showed two John Deere classics at Kalamazoo: a 1928 GP and a 1930 GP. The pair held their own in a flood of John Deere green paint. “They attract attention,” Jack says. “People either love original or hate it.”



Roaming through the field full of tractors, Joe Huey, Skaneateles, N.Y., gave Jack’s GPs a long appreciative look. “When you find a tractor like this,” he says, “if it runs good, leave it be.”

“Well it ain’t going to get painted on my watch,” Jack says with a broad smile. But neither will it be parked in a back corner of the shed. “I’m not afraid to use these tractors,” he says. “I’ve been a mechanic all my life. I don’t think I can break it so bad I can’t fix it. I’ve worked on a lot of things more complicated than John Deere tractors.”



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