Old Iron in the Wild, Wild West

Apache Junction spring show serves up classic old iron.

| June 2015

  • 1950 Oliver 77
    This 1950 Oliver 77 spent its entire life in an Arizona citrus orchard until Lowell Schauer bought the relic a few years ago. “Those trees are all gone now,” Lowell says, “and I’m sure this is the only 77 Orchard tractor in Arizona.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 1929 Case Model L
    Jeff Suter plans to keep his 1929 Case Model L in its original work clothes. “It’s a beast,” he says, “but it has more character the way it is than if it was restored.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 15 hp Reid oil field engine
    Tom Kelly’s 15 hp Reid oil field engine is a rare sight at a Southwest engine show. A flashy restoration makes it hard to miss. “I’m just trying to get young people interested in old iron,” he says, “and this draws attention like fly tape.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 1944 Minneapolis-Moline NTX
    When Keith Peterman (shown here) displays his 1944 Minneapolis-Moline NTX, a sign announces, “Seat reserved for a World War II veteran.” At the Apache Junction Saturday parade, John Kooling, Mesa, Arizona (who was wounded in combat during World War II), was the honored passenger.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 1-1/4 hp Witte
    Glenn Johnson’s 1-1/4 hp Witte vertical pump is complemented by an original sign from Witte Engine Works, Kansas City, Mo. He dates the engine to the late 1930s or early ’40s.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Arizona EDGE&TA show
    The Arizona EDGE&TA show is held against a scenic backdrop of the Superstition Mountains. “The snowbirds love this show because it reminds them of their childhood,” says Betsy Suter, Tucson.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Pull-Away tractor
    Donald Winn’s Pull-Away tractor was built in his hometown of Stockton, Calif., in the 1950s. The 950-pound rig has forward and reverse gears and travels at 1/2 to 2-1/2 mph.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 19 hp Allen
    The only 19 hp Allen known to exist, this engine has hot tube ignition and thermosiphon cooling. “It ran on kerosene originally,” says owner Wayne Peters. “But it will run on anything. If it can vaporize it, it’ll run.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 1921 Aermotor windmill
    Jeff Smith, Phoenix, rebuilt this 1921 Aermotor windmill with an 8-foot fan. Originally shipped by Aermotor to a farm in Iowa, the restored windmill will now be displayed at a private residence in Arizona.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 1916 Monitor 1-1/4 hp engine
    Gary Covert, Cottonwood, Ariz., showed a very unusual display: a 1916 Monitor 1-1/4 hp engine complete with original pump jack and drinking water attachment. “I was told it was used in a park,” he says. Repainted and running when he bought it, the engine was built by Baker Mfg. Co., Evansville, Wis.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 1-1/4 hp Strunk Chipmunk
    Ty Weckersly, Phoenix, showed a 1-1/4 hp Strunk Chipmunk riding tractor dating to about 1954. “I found it in a scrap yard,” he says. “The guy there thought it was a circus ride.” Accessories sold with the tractor include a reel mower, leaf sweeper and utility cart. Ty also collects two-cylinder John Deere tractors. “But it’s hard to haul tractors up and down mountains,” he says. “The big ones stay home now.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 1936 Viking Twin
    Tom Kelly’s 1936 Viking Twin fits neatly into his collection of garden tractors, including Wheelhorse and Speedex models common in West Virginia, where he grew up.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • 1910 4 hp vertical Stover
    Glenn Johnson’s 1910 4 hp vertical Stover has a 5- by 6-inch bore and stroke and weighs 2,750 pounds. “There are very few vertical Stovers,” he says, “and this one just runs so nice and slow.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Dave Calvert
    Dave Calvert and his painted beard.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Mower racing
    Robert Jackson and David Calvert whip around the short end of the track during a lawn mower race held during the Arizona EDGE&TA show. “We’re all here to have fun,” Robert says. “If something breaks, everybody helps out on repairs. Nobody wants to see somebody unable to race.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus

  • 1950 Oliver 77
  • 1929 Case Model L
  • 15 hp Reid oil field engine
  • 1944 Minneapolis-Moline NTX
  • 1-1/4 hp Witte
  • Arizona EDGE&TA show
  • Pull-Away tractor
  • 19 hp Allen
  • 1921 Aermotor windmill
  • 1916 Monitor 1-1/4 hp engine
  • 1-1/4 hp Strunk Chipmunk
  • 1936 Viking Twin
  • 1910 4 hp vertical Stover
  • Dave Calvert
  • Mower racing

Set in Apache Junction, Arizona, the Arizona Early Day Gas Engine & Tractor Assn. (EDGE&TA) spring show has a built-in audience. “This is the retired farmer capital of the world,” says Show Chairman Leon Lawson with a friendly grin. “They get down here and find out they need something to keep them busy, so they start coming to the tractor shows – and then they start bringing displays.”

Held in March, the show generally offers limitless sunshine and warm temperatures, and for a snowbird that’s incentive enough. But the show also delivers a fine selection of antique farm equipment. Now in its 23rd year, the Apache Junction show is well established as the biggest old iron show in Arizona; tractor displays have been known to top the 300 mark.

Classic Arizona tractors

At the 2015 show, Case tractors were featured, and a 1929 Model L Case “restored” by Jeff Suter, Tucson, was the granddaddy of them all. Rescued just as the scrap man was about to close in on it, the Model L is a classic Arizona tractor – but one that keeps its own counsel.

“We honestly don’t know how it was used,” Jeff says. “An old-timer remembers it being used on a ranch near Sonoita, about 30 miles from the Mexican border. But that’s not farm ground – it’s rangeland.”



As found, the tractor’s cylinders were completely worn and the engine had no compression. Fenders and sheet metal were long gone; welded extensions on the rear wheels were not going anywhere. Cylinder sleeves and piston rings were replaced, but the real job came in cleaning the tractor. “Black walnut hulls were packed in every void in the engine,” Jeff says. “It took a considerable amount of time to fish those out.”

After eight months of near constant work, Jeff – a machinist – had the Case running. “Once I get started on a project, I am obsessed,” he says. Today the tractor starts on one crank.



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