The Avery Tractor and Other Farm Expo Exhibits

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A line of antique Avery tractors at the 2001 Antique Farm Equipment Expo.
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Darrel Leonard and his Allis Chalmers 5020, winner of the slowest tractor contest.
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Ed Schaefer at work painting an antique tractor.
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John Lagenbach cutting shingles on a Waterloo Boy engine.
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John Lagenbach branding cedar shingles for sale as Expo souvenirs.

There was no shortage of farming history at the World’s Expo of Antique Farm Equipment at the end of June at Ankeny Expo Park near Ankeny, Iowa.

Besides hosting the Summer Nationals Antique Tractor Pull and the National Plowing Competition, the event featured unique farm equipment including the B.F. Avery Collectors 2001 National Convention.

Many interested onlookers were asking about the history of the Avery tractor. Club President Ron Goller of Defiance, Ohio, said the Avery Club has been growing steadily in the past few years.

‘We have around 400 members now in all parts of the world,’ Goller said.

The history behind the B.F. Avery tractor is also as unique as the tractor itself. Goller said the Avery tractors first began when Benjamin Franklin Avery purchased the Cleveland Tractor Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland was producing a tractor they called ‘The General’ which was a tractor primarily used in vegetable farming. Avery purchased the company and began building the B.F. Avery tractor line in the 1940s. Most of these 4-cylinder, 12 horsepower tractors were sold in the south to tobacco farmers.

Later in 1952, Minneapolis-Moline purchased the tractor line and produced similar tractors for a few years. Goller said he is not sure how many Avery tractors were built in the 1940s, but he said he became hooked on collecting the tractor several years ago. Today, he owns about 50 Avery tractors.

The one he showed in Ankeny this year was a 1953 BG Moline. Only “700 and some” BG’s were ever made by Moline. They were built in the same Louisville factory that bore the B.F. Avery line.

In reality, many of the tractors at the expo, including ‘The General’ are direct ancestors of today’s AGCO-brand of tractors. Minneapolis-Moline, who purchased the Avery line, was later acquired by White, which is now owned by AGCO. Loren Book, president of the Minneapolis-Moline Collectors Club from Nevada, Iowa, said many of the old tractor parts people are looking for are traced to other members or to AGCO directly. The Minneapolis-Moline exhibit held another uniquely restored tractor. The 1938 MM UDLX, the first tractor built with a cab, and there are only 73 known to still be in existence. Book said the cab idea was before its time but it was equipped with a fan and a radio.

Averys and double Ms were not the only collectible tractors on display, nor were antiques the only draw. Ed Schaefer, of Bellville, Ill., was there, painting pictures of antique tractors for collectors to buy. Marine, Minn.’s John Langenbach cut brand new cedar shingles and branded them with Expo logos for souvenirs – all done with an antique saw powered by a Waterloo Boy gas engine. And Darrel Leonard, of Zumbrota, Minn., proved the old adage that slow and steady wins the race, winning the Slowest Tractor Contest on his Allis Chalmers 5020. FC

Randy Mudgett is the farm editor of The Messenger, in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Farm Collector Magazine
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