The Annual MMOGTA Gas Tractor Show: Come to Oakley & Hear ‘em Run

Mid-Michigan club puts on true working tractor show

| January 2012

Make no mistake: The Mid-Michigan Old Gas Tractor Assn.’s annual gas tractor show is the biggest perpetual motion machine you’ll ever see. “Our visitors know they can go to a museum and see tractors parked,” reads a line in the official show magazine. “They come to Oakley to hear them run!”

The 2011 show was marked by the ever-present rumble of Rumely tractors on the job and on the prowl. With the Rumely Products Collectors holding their 2011 Expo at Oakley, the grounds were filled with countless fine examples of that line.

Single-cylinder Rumely

Bud Rosema, Allendale, Mich., fell in love with Rumely as a teenager pitching bundles. “I said then, ‘one day I’m going to have one of those,’” he recalls. Years later, he learned of a 1913 OilPull Model F 15-30 nearby, the only single-cylinder in the OilPull line. The owner was not inclined to sell, but as time passed, he and Bud became good friends. In a chance conversation in 1970, Bud asked the man – as he often did, almost in jest – “Are you going to sell me that OilPull today?” This time, without warning, the older gentleman replied in the affirmative. “I about dropped my drawers,” Bud says. “I broke every speed limit in the county trying to get cash from the bank and get back to him before he changed his mind.”

The son of the tractor’s original owner, the seller had a few surprises up his sleeve. Included in the deal were the Rumely’s original bill of sale, all the Rumely tools that came with the tractor, two sets of extensions, ice spuds and the original manuals. Thirty years since it’d last run, the totally original 17,000-pound behemoth was ready to roll. “We towed it out of the shed and it started on the second turn,” Bud says.

The Model F reminds Bud of the first Rumely he ever saw. “They just run so slow,” he says. “Years ago, me and another young fellow were waiting for the engine to open up, to go faster. Finally the old man motioned to us to start pitching bundles. The old belt was stretched so far it was almost on the ground.”

Rumely Line-Drive

If you’ve never heard of a Rumely line-drive tractor, that’s understandable. Dating to about 1920, the model – steered by leather reins – is so rare that collectors speculate whether it was ever formally marketed. A handsomely restored line-drive owned by collector George Schaaf, Frankfort, Ill., was displayed (and demonstrated) at the Oakley show. “We just finished reassembly,” says restorer K.R. Hough, Hobart, Ind. “This tractor hasn’t been this complete in 50 years.”