For Nebraska Family Tractor Hobby Links Three Generations

| July 2006

When Charles Shane started collecting cross-motor tractors in the mid-1990s, he figured a bit of tinkering would be fun, especially since he was cutting back his involvement with the family-owned agri-business. The old machines have proven to be fun, but they have also provided a means for Charles to spend quality time with his sons and grandson. ‚Ã'úWe spend plenty of time together over business,‚Ã'ù the Atkinson, Neb., native explains. ‚Ã'úThe tractors give us a reason to get together that is just for fun.‚Ã'ù

The family members behind Shane Farms are necessarily abreast of high-tech modern practices, so it might seem ironic that Charles is fascinated by such early, and arguably crude (by today‚Ã'ôs standards), tractors. However, he‚Ã'ôs quick to point out that they were cutting edge in their time. ‚Ã'úHart-Parr invented the tractor,‚Ã'ù Charles says with a twinkle in his eye. ‚Ã'úEverything else back then was just a traction machine.‚Ã'ù It‚Ã'ôs true that Hart-Parr is generally credited with being the first to use the term ‚Ã'útractor,‚Ã'ù but that‚Ã'ôs not really why Charles is drawn to them.

It turns out that Charles‚Ã'ô father, Oliver Shane, had a lasting influence. ‚Ã'úI think great-grandpa preferred mules,‚Ã'ù explains Perry Shane, fifth generation Shane farmer and Charles‚Ã'ô grandson. ‚Ã'úBut he also had a couple of Olivers.‚Ã'ù Charles concurs, adding that when he was in high school, his dad had Oliver models 80 and 88 around the place ‚Ã'ì so when his attention turned to cross-motor tractors, Hart-Parr was a logical choice. ‚Ã'úHart-Parr merged with Oliver Chilled Plow and Nichols & Shepard in 1929,‚Ã'ù Charles explains. ‚Ã'úThe new company was called the Oliver Farm Equipment Co.‚Ã'ù

1928 ‚Ã'ì a good year for Hart-Parr

Charles found his first Hart-Parr tractor in Clinton, Neb., in 1993. The Model 18-36 hadn‚Ã'ôt run for 55 years and Charles credits his neighbor and friend, Jim Frerichs, for helping him get it loaded and back home. ‚Ã'úThe motor was loose and everything was there so we had to try to start it,‚Ã'ù Charles says. ‚Ã'úWe cleaned the crankcase, filled it with gas and it started on the third pull!‚Ã'ù Perhaps over-eager to see just how bad off the tractor was, Charles notes that they had the machine running, but didn‚Ã'ôt know how to turn it off ‚Ã'ì and they hadn‚Ã'ôt filled the cooling system with water. ‚Ã'úWe didn‚Ã'ôt quite know what to do,‚Ã'ù Charles says with a chuckle. ‚Ã'úSo my son pulled the spark plug wires with his bare hands to shut it down.‚Ã'ù That may not seem like much of a big deal, but those wires had lost most of their insulation and pulling them while the engine lumbered on was a shocking experience, to say the least.

No stranger to mechanical work and complex fabrication (such as self-propelled stack movers), Charles set out to make that 18-36 shine. ‚Ã'úI was so excited that the old tractor ran after years of sitting, that I decided to restore it,‚Ã'ù he says. ‚Ã'úAnd now it can be around for another 70 years.‚Ã'ù With help from sons Kirk and Todd and grandson Perry, Charles completely dismantled the tractor, sandblasted nearly every part, painted pieces with self-etching primer and topcoat, reassembled the parts and painted the works again. During the process, the 2-cylinder Hart-Parr engine got its valves ground and piston rings and bearings checked, but it was in remarkably good condition.

With the 1928 18-36 as the foundation of his collection, Charles focused on that last year of Hart-Parr‚Ã'ôs independence as a stand-alone tractor manufacturer. Although there was some model variation during 1928, Hart-Parr built only three principal models that year. As the company‚Ã'ôs intermediate-size machine, the 18-36 was classified as a 3- to 4-plow tractor. All Charles needed to round out the 1928 collection were Models 12-24 and 28-50. ‚Ã'úI found the 12-24 just a couple of years after we finished the first one,‚Ã'ù Charles says.