It may have rained on the World's Expo of Antique Farm Machinery, but the storm was followed by a rainbow ... a rainbow of tractors from all over the U.S. From John Deere green to International red to Minneapolis Moline's Prairie Gold, a rich band of color spread over the show at Ankeny, Iowa, July 1-3.
Visitors from all over the country saw the oldest known Deere, Paul Weiss's Minneapolis Moline UDLX, Bill Anderson's German tractors, an Intercontinental and a Friday. Unique implements shown included a McCormick Deering reaper (self rake) dating to 1850.
Vintage trucks and other vehicles were also on display. Jim Haan and his son, John, farmers from West LaFayette, Ind., brought their hand-built (or Haan-built) school bus. The bus is a replica of a forerunner of today's familiar school bus. The father-and-son team took no shortcuts.
"We started with only the running gear from a 1923 Model T," Jim said.
Using parts from a one-ton Ford truck, the Haans pieced the replica together, including hand-crafted woodwork in the cab. The interior seats are two long benches from front to back.
"I built this to show kids that school buses weren't always around," Jim said.
Activities were planned for all ages. The children's area featured a safety program, showing how quickly the unwary could be buried in grain. Young eyes widened as the speaker explained the strength necessary to free a person stuck just knee-deep in corn. For those with a nostalgic bent, old-fashioned corn shelling was a big draw.
Though often dangerous and difficult to use, the old equipment had a beauty unmatched by today's powerful machines. That beauty was evident in a display set up by the Farm Machinery Advertising Collectors. Founder and collector David Schnakenberg said the group, formed in 1994, includes members from several states and a few foreign countries. Publications focusing on vintage equipment were also on hand, including Classic Farm Tractor Calendars, represented by John Harvey. The 2000 calendar – "Celebrating a Century of Success" – will debut in Boonville, Mo., in early September. Also present were Karen and Bill Johnson, Avoca, Iowa, with their new book, "Once Upon a Farm: How to Look, Listen, Laugh and Survive."
Classic construction equipment was on display as well. Unique items included a rock crusher, several vintage Caterpillar units, and other agricultural/industrial machinery. Writer H. Milton Dusenberg ("Building the Alaska Highway") was present, and offered a glimpse at the past, relating tales of the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942-43. FC