It was Expo time again in Ankeny, Iowa, on July 1-3, 1999. This was the third time that we attended since its introduction in 1995. I thought the 1999 Expo was well organized and definitely moving in the right direction. Lyle Kreps and his crew did a good job putting this enormous event together in a short amount of time.
This show definitely has had its growing pains. For those of you who do not know the history of this event, it was the former 'Ageless Iron Expo' operated by Successful Farming magazine. After two Expos, they pulled out. The fate of the 1999 event was in question and it seemed reorganization had its problems. The final result was a non profit group that will return all profits from the show back to 'the hobby' in the form of scholarships, grants and other efforts aimed at preserving the history of agricultural machinery. John Deere, Pioneer, Pepsi, NationsBank, Successful Farming, Who News radio, and Tired Apparel signed up to be sponsors of the '99 Expo.
Despite hot weather, rain, wind, and the threat of a tornado, both exhibitors and visitors made the best of the situation. The Expo is known for its rare antique tractors and this year was no exception. There were displays of gas engines, model engines, construction equipment, implements, toys, and even a steam engine.
Each day there was a parade of power, field demonstrations, children's activities, and restoration clinics. The antique tractor pull was delayed because of the weather, but finally was held on Saturday.
Another popular event on Saturday was a consignment auction held by Nixon Auctioneers, a loyal GEM advertiser.
One thing I've always enjoyed at this event is the ability to visit the many different clubs represented.
A lot of smiles and talk could be found around Bill Davidson's 53 foot trailer complete with 76 perfectly displayed pedal tractors. Bill, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, is selling his full-size tractors to concentrate on his collection of pedal tractors. Besides the 76, he has another 30 or 40 more at home. He's been quite busy acquiring these 'toys,' since he only started his collection four years ago.
Bill's first aquisition was a collection of seven. He does not do the restoration work-- instead he sends his work to a reliable restorer. Among his colorful collection was a Cat dozer, a Massey Harris 44 made in the 1950s, a Cockshutt, an Oliver, and a Garton Giant and a Heisler. The latter two are the oldest in his collection, both made in the 1940s. Only 24 of the Heislers were manufactured in 1944.
Bill proudly shows off his display in many parades. He even has a doll riding on one tractor that waves his hand. Bill Davidson says the thing he enjoys the most is the smiles he sees when people look at his display.
I visited a display of New Way engines exhibited by Lowell Wood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and C. J. Lehnhardt of Coal Valley, Illinois. I met Lowell and his wife, Dorothy, for the first time on the GEM European trip. I consider him an expert on New Way engines, as he has owned fifty of them. He's now slowly selling them; his collection is down to about 30 engines. Lowell and his friend C. J. consider themselves 'railroad men.' They were very talkative about a special invitation from Mt. Pleasant to come and 'play' on the 4th. I did get them to pose with the 1910 7 HP New Way Model B Type C engine that is owned by C. J., but was restored by Lowell. The serial number is 1727 and the engine has dual exhaust. This exhaust system looked to me like an alien creature. Lowell said it was downright ugly! The dual exhaust could be found in New Ways up to a 12 HP (although a 12 HP is rarely seen). The other engine owned by Lowell is a 1? HP pictured below. The New Way engine was manufactured by the New Way Motor Co., Lansing, Michigan, from 1901-1918.
Another interesting display was that of Lewis and Edith Pearson of Marion, Iowa. After Lewis retired, his wife encouraged him to restore some pieces owned by her family. Edith decided she liked doing research on the projects as was clearly shown in their exhibit. One of the restorations was a 3 HP Schmidt Chilled Cylinder, serial number 6265, that was found in pieces after her uncle died. This type H engine had a 4?' bore, 4' stroke, .465 piston diameter, top compression .096 width, #2 compression ring .093, #3 compression ring .095, oil ring .187, and ring grooves depth . 210. It also has two sets of ignition contacts, one is a battery saver. This engine was manufactured in 1910 by the Schmidt Brothers Engine Works, Davenport, Iowa. The Chilled Cylinder was built from designs by H.M. Yager of Davenport, Iowa, and patented on August 13, 1907. Part of Edith's research revealed that an engine would be delivered for $14-75 plus $11.00 per month for five months. The total cost would be $69.75, quite a few dollars at that time.
The trade name 'Chilled Cylinder' attached to an advertising brochure gave the prospective buyer the idea that the name referred to the air-cooled design of the engine. It was, however, the chilling process used while pouring the molten metal of the cylinder at the foundry that the words described. The purpose of this process was to improve surface hardness while maintaining softness in the rest of the casting. This was to reduce wear on the cylinder wall and transmit heat from it.
Outside the vendor tent each day, I would see Delbert Heusinkveld of Sioux Center, Iowa, sharing his 1948 V8-8N Ford tractor with many admirers. Delbert changed his Ford to a V8 in 1950, when it was like new. The V8 was an industrial engine bought new from Ford for about $250.00, ready to run with flywheel and clutch. His Ford has the same engine he put in in 1950. The new cost of his tractor was $900.00.
The above photo of Delbert is one of my favorites because it shows an exhibitor sharing his display with others. What a wealth of information can be found at these shows!
Another enthusiastic collector was Dale Fitzsimmons of Fennimore, Wisconsin. He showed a 1939 Sears Economy tractor built by the Peru Plow Co., Illinois, and powered by a Model A Ford engine. Basically, this was considered a 'poor man's' tractor. Dale informed me that there were 339 of these built, 200 of them in 1938. They were styled in 1939. This tractor would have cost $495.00 less fenders, which would have been $15.95 more.
The Model A Ford electrical system was a bad system because the flat wire would break. Ford then reconstructed the engine with a different wire system, making a better one. The variable belt speed determined on the transmission included reverse. The kit was $27.50 more for the belt pulley, $32.75 for PTO. I always find the costs for these items fascinating.
There was a wonderful looking display celebrating the 65th anniversary of the John Deere Model A, 1934-1999, with perfectly lined-up tractors and a sign above. That is, until the wind and rain came. Unfortunately, I was not able to snap the photo at the best time. The John Deere tractors included: 1934 A GP #410477 built 5/22/34 owned by Howard Miller, 1935 A GP #422153 built 9/7/35 owned by John Miller, 1936 A GP #429064 built 2/4/36 owned by John; 1937 A GP #456723 built 5/15/37 owned by Howard, and a 1938 A GP #471227 built 1/18/38 owned by John. Howard Miller is from Friend, Nebraska, and John Miller is from Muscatine, Iowa. Hats off to these two for an impressive exhibit.
I always enjoy seeing GEM advertiser Don Peck of Zearing, Iowa. Don brought a total of ten tractors to the Expo for display. One tractor was a 1943 2N Ford with a plow attached. The picture shows the original radiator cover that came on the tractor when new. Most of these probably were discarded after purchase.
Don's 1917 All Work made by Electric Wheel, Quincy, Illinois, was definitely unusual. This crude tractor was in a barn in Minnesota for fifty years. It still had its original paint and the only work done was to the engine, which was frozen.
Definitely a crowd pleaser was Frank Hansen's John Deere, which he claims is the first model built by John Deere. It is actually the 79th John Deere tractor built and the only one of Deere's original farm tractors to have survived intact. 200 of these had been designed, manufactured and marketed by Deere between 1914-1919. Except for '79,' most had been sold in the Dakotas. Hansen, of Rollingstone, Minnesota, has quite a set-up to display the 1918 John Deere that has all-wheel drive, positive traction and on-the-go shifting. The original price tag was $1600.00. Frank will be exhibiting throughout the U. S. and Canada.
There are many rumors about the 2001 Expo. At this time it is uncertain where or when Expo 2001 will be held. The 1995 Expo was a truly great event. Hopefully the new organization will be able to recapture the magic of that first show. Stay tuned!
For updates on the Expo, visit their web site at: www.tractorexpo.com Lyle Kreps, show coordinator, can be contacted at 7662 Hickman Rd., Des Moines, Iowa 50322 or 515-7217-369.