Only the Strange Remain

| September 2004

Finding four Custom Mfg. Co. tractors in one collection is pretty unlikely, but finding them in the company of tractors with names like Earthmaster, Hart-Parr and Huber is downright unlikely. It's just that low-probability challenge that stokes the fire of Springville, Pa., resident Brent Naylor's collecting passion.

'With so many different tractor manufacturers out there, I decided to focus on rare brands or unusual models from less rare brands,' Brent says as he throws open a shed door revealing several beautifully restored machines.

Brent's tractor collection started with a 1949 McCormick-Deering Model WD-9 Wheatland tractor over 11 years ago. 'I really like the look of the standard [Wheatland] style tractors, and I bought this machine from its original owner,' Brent says as he affectionately wipes the fender of his Model WD-9 before starting it up. The gas-started, diesel-powered Model WD-9 is an unusual find for the eastern part of the United States.

'The WD-9 only needed paint and front tires,' Brent says, explaining that his first tractor was relatively easy to clean up. However, most of his other tractors have required major mechanical and body work, and at times Brent has had to make critical parts, or have them made. No stranger to the shop, Brent does almost all the work himself when he brings a decayed machine back to its former glory.

'I was always around machinery, and I still help Dad out at the farm now and then,' Brent explains modestly about his skills as a restoration artist. Brent enjoys working alone, although he does have a friend who helps him out from time to time. 'Some projects go better and are more fun with a friend,' he says.

A few favorites

Brent is quick to point out that he is pretty fond of most of his machines, but he does have some favorites. Tractors built by Custom are pretty high on his list. 'Custom [Mfg.] built tractors for a number of different companies,' Brent explains. 'Tractors with names like Wards, Rockol, Lehr Big Boy and others were all made by Custom.'