1914 Hart-Parr 12-27

Rare Hart-Parr 12-27 tractor a standout in Pennsylvania family’s collection.


| August 2014



Hart-Parr vertical engine

This Hart-Parr 12-27 tractor, the only known survivor, belongs to the Stoltzfus family of Leola, Pa.

Photo by Beth Beavers

If you’ve been in the old iron hobby for a bit, you may have heard of the Stoltzfuses of Pennsylvania. Seen as members of threshing crews at reunions and frequent contributors to Iron-Men Album, the family has had old iron flowing through their blood for generations, and Paul Stoltzfus is continuing that tradition.

Paul started collecting in 1969 with a John Deere 1-1/2 hp engine. Over the years, he has collected everything: “I like old tractors. I like old engines. I like it on wheels so I can mosey around,” he says. “I love to hear steam engines run, but when it is 95 to 100 degrees, you step on the back of a steam engine and get sweat on in a hurry.” At the height of his involvement, Paul’s collection topped 120 pieces at his home in Leola, Pennsylvania.

But Paul’s kit isn’t made up of stuff you see every day. “I sold and swapped to better my collection,” he says. “I had a neighbor who bought and kept everything. But I bought common engines and peddled those to get better engines. I have … five, six, seven, eight right now.”

I met Paul at the Rough & Tumble Engineers Historical Assn. Annual Thresherman’s Reunion. During the Parade of Power, an old Hart-Parr passed by me. I’d never seen anything like it, what with its vertical single-cylinder engine and massive cast steel wheels. I decided I needed to track down the owner. 

1914 Hart-Parr 12-27

It didn’t take long for people to point me in Paul’s direction. I’d seen things throughout the show I’d been interested in, and the name “Stoltzfus” kept coming up. When I finally met Paul and his family, I was welcomed into the group with a mandatory giant slice of juicy watermelon and reluctance on Paul’s part to take claim of his collection. “The tractor belongs to the family,” Paul clarified.

The tractor in question is a rare 1914 Hart-Parr 12-27 model. According to C.H. Wendel in Oliver Hart-Parr, the company built only 200 12-27 tractors. The Stoltzfus’ 12-27 spent its working life in Nebraska before being sold to Earl McHankle in Michigan in the early ‘60s. After Earl’s death in 1996, his 12-27 was purchased at auction by Jerry Swedberg of Rollag, Minnesota. Jerry allowed the 12-27 to be shown at the Hart-Parr display at the Floyd County Museum in Charles City, Iowa, on a three-year lease. After that lease ended, Jerry extended the display for two years.