Ohio Cultivator Stars at Wapakoneta Show

The Buckeye Farm Antiques Show in Wapakoneta, Ohio, features an Ohio Cultivator Co. hay press

| May 2011

In 1989 seven neighbors and I formed the Buckeye Farm Antiques show in Wapakoneta, Ohio. At first we rented a stationary baler from Paul Clay, Rockford, Ohio. That piece was eventually donated to the Van Wert, Ohio, club. 

We began a serious search for a baler of our own in about 2002. Several years earlier we’d seen an Ohio Cultivator Co. hay press but we thought it was a piece of junk. We wanted a John Deere hay press and spent five years looking for one before resigning ourselves to the Ohio Cultivator unit.

This hay press was operated by Don Hager’s grandfather until about 1933, when it was loaned to a neighbor. It then went through a barn fire before ending up on a Mormon farm near Elida, Ohio. Jim La Rue found it in the woods with trees 2 to 3 inches in diameter growing up through it. He sold the baler to Don Hager and Don gave it to our club in 2003.

Restoring a rust bucket

I loaded the press to take to my father’s farm, where I planned to do the restoration work. That way my wife wouldn’t see what a piece of junk my next project was. When I arrived at my father’s farm, he took one look at it and told me, with a few farm-type words, to just keep on going to the junkyard.

Fortunately, like a few other times in my life, I didn’t listen to my dad. After he saw me start working on the press, my dad became very enthusiastic about helping me. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the finished product.

We broke the press down in pieces. My son restored the green and yellow parts and I restored the red ones. There was enough faded paint left on some of the parts to tell what color they’d been. The biggest challenge was getting the plunger out of the press, as it was rusted solid. The bearings and gears, however, were in good usable condition.