RUSTY IRON REVISITED


| May 2004



FC_V6_I10_May_2004_06-1.jpg

Chevrolet Tractor

The 'Let's Talk Rusty Iron' column in the March 2004 issue of Farm Collector about Dale Hall's, Mt Washington, Ky., Chevrolet tractor brought a couple of responses that dear up some - but not all - of the mystery surrounding the origin of the tractor.

Steel White, Versailles, Ky., called Dale to pass along a few tidbits about the tractor. White, now 78 years old, said that Willie Lee Nutter Sr. owned a large farm south of Georgetown, Ky., where he raised expensive saddle horses. Mr. Nutter had one son, Willie Lee Nutter jr., who was born unable to speak, although it's unclear if he was deaf, as well. He never went to school, but was tutored at home and apparently was a self-taught mechanical genius.

White worked on the Nutter farm when he was 16 and was shown a tractor that Willie Jr. - who White remembers as being in his 20s at the time - had built in a fully equipped machine shop on the farm. The tractor had a Chevy engine and steel wheels. White also said the younger Nutter had built a grain binder and a stationary hay baler, both of which White used when he worked on the farm.

In 1944, White turned 18 and joined the Army. When he returned in 1946, he heard young Nutter had built another tractor, and General Motors Co. was involved in some capacity. White believes the local Chevy dealer had some connection with the project, which later fell through for some unknown reason. The Nutters used the tractor on their farm for years afterward.

Dale also talked to a couple of other local men, Herschel Wiley and Horace Gaines, both of whom knew the Nutter family. Herschel is pretty sure he remembers hearing about someone from GM coming to the Nutter farm to talk about the tractor, while Horace recalls the Nutter family tried to sell the tractor to GM.

Willie Lee Nutter Sr. died about 1960, and his son died just a few years later. At the time of his death, Willie Jr. was building plows in his shop for Brinly-Hardy, a garden tractor company in Louisville, Ky. The Nutter farm - now owned by some-one else - lies about 6 miles south of Georgetown, just north of the intersection of U.S. Route 62 and Interstate 64.