Adams Road King Pull Type Grader

Leaning-wheel Adams Road King pull-type grader almost got away

| April 2013

  • Adam Road King Pull Type Grader
    Christopher Hodges on the back of the restored Adams Road King grader with Franklin, his dad, handling the lines to a seven-up hitch of draft mules owned by Orville Jackson and Charles Buckner.
    Photo By Ron McGinnis
  • Bent Grader Brace
    Inside the Old Web Hodges blacksmith shop in Fair Grove, Mo., Franklin holds a bent grader brace so Christopher can hammer it back into shape. 
    Photo By Ron McGinnis
  • Adams Before
    The Adams before restoration.
    Photo By Dan Manning
  • Christopher And Franklin Hodges
    Christopher and Franklin Hodges on their 100-year-old Road King.
    Photo By Ron McGinnis
  • Freshly Painted Grader
    Christopher with the freshly painted Road King.
    Photo By Ron McGinnis
  • Road King
    The Hodges’ Road King has no serial number plate showing year of manufacture. The model was produced from 1896 to the 1930s. 
    Photo By Ron McGinnis

  • Adam Road King Pull Type Grader
  • Bent Grader Brace
  • Adams Before
  • Christopher And Franklin Hodges
  • Freshly Painted Grader
  • Road King

When Christopher Hodges and his dad, Franklin, unloaded a 5,000-pound antique at their farm east of Fair Grove, Mo., they were very happy; they’d almost lost the piece twice — not off of the trailer on the way home, but while haggling with two previous owners.

Franklin had first seen the old Adams Road King pull-type grader sitting beside a scrap-yard in Lebanon, Mo., 40 miles northeast of Fair Grove, with “For Sale” painted on its rusty frame. He stopped and asked the price. Thinking the figure was too high, he offered $200 less, but the owner wouldn’t budge.

The next time Franklin drove by, the pull-type grader was nowhere in sight. “My heart went thump,” he recalls. A week or two later while checking Craigslist on the Internet, he found a photo of a grader that looked exactly like the one he’d passed up in Lebanon.

“Over the phone,” Franklin says, “the owner wouldn’t tell me if it was the same grader or not. He wanted $400 more than the first guy. So I passed it up again. I was sorry because I really wanted that old grader.”



Two weeks later Franklin’s phone rang, and it was the man who’d posted the grader on Craigslist. After admitting that the grader was in fact the one Franklin had seen in Lebanon, the caller told Franklin that he just wanted to break even on the piece. With no further squabbling, the deal was done. Franklin was not going to let the grader slip away a third time.

Old iron as a draw

In between truck driving jobs two years ago, Franklin came up with the idea of having a swap meet on his farm. Every Saturday all summer long, he and Christopher hosted anyone who wanted to buy, sell or trade anything legal. For added entertainment, a group of garden tractor enthusiasts set up a pulling track. That was the beginning of the Fair Grove Swap Meet at Hodges Horseshoe Bend Entertainment Center, but they weren’t getting the traffic they wanted.