Loyal to the Oliver's

| August 2002

Folks haven't stopped getting their kicks on Route 66, and neither has Deane May, a veteran tractor collector who lives in Atlanta, 111.

Deane started collecting vintage tractors and gas engines about 35 years ago, working on them in his shop, which sits along old U.S. Route 66. His collecting focus today is on Oliver tractors and implements, but that wasn't always the case.

He'd quit farming and taken an off-farm job back in the late 1960s, and he found that 'going home at 5 in the evening was boring.' He went to an engine and tractor show at a Case dealership, saw single-cylinder, hit-and-miss, open-flywheel engines and thought, 'I ought to have one of those to give me something to play around with on the weekend.'

By the time Deane returned to farming, he'd collected and restored about 25 gasoline engines during those evenings and weekends. 'The engines were just sitting there, and no one was doing anything with them,' he recalls. 'I thought it was foolish to let them sit around, so I sold them.'

Although Deane sold most of his collection, he held on to three engines that he had obtained locally. All were produced between 1912 and 1915. He kept the first engine he purchased, a 7-hp Lausen, as well as a 3-hp Empire and an International. The International, made by the International Gas Engine Co., has a five-spoke flywheel. Deane has it mounted on an old railroad freight truck, along with a vertical piston air compressor, a post drill press, a twin vertical piston water pump and a single-bladed disk sharpener. These four machines are run from a cross shaft driven by the International.

In the mid-1970s, Deane decided to buy again. This time, he bought an old tractor, an Oliver. His father had owned Oliver's, and Deane had fond childhood memories of them.