205 College Street Buffalo, Kentucky 42716
Sydney Bunnell has spent most of his 76 years collecting oddities. Lining the shelves inside the garage of his La Rue County, Kentucky farm are items like a camel saddle, an old grinder that looks like an exercise bike, and a gout stool.
But his true love takes up a lot more space and must be measured on a much larger scale.
For the past ten years Bunnell has been restoring, trading and collecting Avery tractors. At last count, he owns 25 of the big red machines which were manufactured by the B. F. Avery Company in Louisville, Kentucky, between 1943 and 1953.
One of Bunnell's favorite tractors is a rare 1943 crawler, which was built for use with row crops.
Bunnell said he has had 'substantial offers' for the crawler, but he isn't interested in selling. The other tractors are for sale, but Bunnell declined to name a price.
'Older tractors will bring what you ask for them,' he said. 'Once I sold one off the back of my truck for $1500 and the fellow didn't even ask for it to be started up.'
Bunnell shares his big, red passion with at least 30 other collectors nationwide. The group puts out their own newsletter and schedules annual meetings. Some members also collect related farm equipment manufactured by Ward and General.
The newsletter lists sources for parts and names of collectors willing to sell or trade equipment and manuals.
Bunnell and his wife Judelle sponsored the 4th annual conference for Avery collectors, in March, on their farm just down the road from Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace National Historic Site. Over 150 people from 11 states attended the event, which included a banquet and parts auction.
Judelle said her husband has been collecting things during most of their 56 years of marriage. And most of the time, she has been willing to help.
'I'll pick up parts and things for him sometimes,' she said, 'but it's rare for me to find a piece he doesn't have. But those tractors I don't have anything to do with them. All that painting and fixing up that's not my thing.'
Bunnell smiled at his wife's comment.
'Now her, she's a good bird dog for tractors,' he said. 'She helps me find them. Once we were driving around and she said 'That looked like an Avery to me.' I turned around and went back.'
'It was an Avery,' Judelle said. 'Two of them. Then the fellow showed us three more he had up in the woods. And, you know what Sydney did? He bought them all!'
For more information on collecting Avery tractors write to: Avery Collectors, Rural Route 1, Box 68, 1373-100N, Paxton, Illinois 60957.