As Good as Gold

Sheppard Diesel tractors draw loyal following

| December 2005

Like the "Forty-niners" panning for gold in "them thar hills" of California, modern day prospectors turn over many rocks looking for a certain "yellow gold" tractor … a Sheppard Diesel. Few are found, but the rare nugget is worth all the effort. And, like the Forty-niners, these prospectors cherish their bits of gold as much as those rugged individuals did 150 years ago.

This year, the Sheppard Diesel Club celebrated its 10th anniversary in August at the Maumee Valley Antique Steam and Gas Association Show at New Haven, Ind. Technically, this was the group's 11th meeting, but the first year - before the club was formally organized - the event was simply called "The Sheppard Diesel Reunion." In 1994, Lynn Klingaman, Columbia City, Ind., called several friends who also owned Sheppard Diesels and suggested they get together to show their tractors. At that gathering, the Sheppard Diesel Club was formed. Since then, each year they meet at a different location to exhibit tractors and equipment.

Jim Reed, Gibsonville, Ohio, is the current president of the group. Jim is an avid collector of Farmalls and International Harvester equipment. However, his pride and joy is a Sheppard Diesel SD-2 that he displays at Sheppard anniversary shows all over the country.

R.H. Sheppard, Hanover, Pa., produced diesel engines for U.S. Navy lifeboats during World War II. He knew he had a good product and knew he could build a worthy farm tractor at a reasonable price. He started manufacturing tractors in 1948, halting production 10 years later in 1958.

His first tractor was a small, 1-cylinder air-cooled tractor (quite like a garden tractor) advertised as being a "small diesel-powered farm tractor for the big jobs on the small place. It can do everything a team can do - and more!"

Next came the 2-cylinder SD-2, then the 3- and 4-cylinder tractors, SD-3 and SD-4. The model numbering system he devised was simple: SD stood for Sheppard Diesel. "One" stood for one cylinder and one plow. The numbers two, three and four similarly stood for 2-cylinder 2-plow, 3-cylinder 3-plow and 4-cylinder 5-plow tractors.