790 W. Blondy Jhune Rd., Lucas, Texas 75002
In December of 1989, I had the opportunity to purchase a basket case 801 Ford diesel tractor. I called my brother for advice on whether I ought to purchase it or not, since I am not familiar with diesels and I know he is a tractor nut. He lives in Ohio, but he said to go ahead and purchase it and he would come down and get it running for me, which he did. He told me I should join a Ford club-a club would provide the detailed information needed to restore my Ford to its original condition. To our amazement, we found out there is no Ford club we could contact for help.
So, my brother told me to attend some tractor shows, and that I would find fellow Ford enthusiasts who could help me out. For years, he has been trying to get me to attend the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show at Georgetown, with him, but distance is a problem. He's in Ohio, but I'm just north of Dallas, Texas. It just seems there is always something coming up to prevent me from doing so.
Well, in August of 1991, I attended my first antique tractor and machinery show in Georgetown, Ohio. It's ironic that I had to travel a thousand miles to find out where the serial number is on my 800 series 1958 or 1959 Ford tractor. It's either missing or covered up with paint, but I'll soon find out, when I get home. I talked to many people who wanted to help out. My brother says that's the way antique machinery people are.
In many ways the show was similar to things I've been exposed to and yet in many ways it was different. I've been to large flea markets quite often and have enjoyed searching for that once-in-a-lifetime find. I've eaten my way through them, sampling the many delicacies from corn-on-the-cob to barbecue, homemade ice cream to hot apple pie. I've seen, on occasion, those old one cylinder engines. At the Canton flea market in Canton, Texas they have a fairly large one cylinder engine that grinds flour and you can hear it all over the park going-pop-pop-pop-pop.
The Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show at Georgetown, Ohio was similar to all of this, and yet there was more. There were countless little one cylinder engines all going pop- pop. There were tractors older than I was, but looking and running like new. There were whole families participating. Some entered flower arrangements in a contest. There was quilting, broom-making, and weaving, bottle-gourd painting, butter-making to name just a few exhibits. Of course, there was entertainment-country music, square dancing, and clogging demonstrations, There were blacksmith demonstrations, and antique cars on display.
You couldn't help but feel that you were witnessing a glimpse of yesteryear. I'd never seen logs cut on an old sawmill run by a tractor connected by a 60 or 70 foot long belt, or the way bales used to be bundled by a noisy machine as men would pitchfork hay into it, or a steam-shovel operate.
I had to ask myself, why would people bring up to 400 tractors together? Or why would a club restore and operate a 1920 Bucyrus steam shovel? Part of the answer I found, as I watched one man parking his old Farmall tractor after the day's parade. I told my wife, 'Watch, he won't just turn it off. He'll probably rev it up a couple of times.' Sure enough, he parked it and got off, leaving it idling. Then he proceeded to rev it up and then back it off to an idle, he did that several times, then, once he was satisfied that his tractor was running good and sounded right, proud of the way it performed, he turned it off. We've often heard women make comments about men and their machines. At stop lights, we've listened as they rev the engines of their hot rods, motorcycles, or vintage cars, and now to the list we can add tractors and stationary engines. I guess there is a certain amount of pride and confidence and sense of worth, that is attained by owning and operating a vintage machine with more horsepower than ourselves, whether it be for work or pleasure. And if the owner actually restored the tractor or engine himself, well, let's say the glow on his face could probably light your bedroom enough to read by at night.
I also received part of my answer when my brother asked me to drive one of his five tractors in the daily parade. The first day, you might ask, 'Why enter the parade the second and third day?' As we paraded downtown and past the park bleachers, I received the answer: thousands of persons lined up to see antique tractors, horse drawn buggies, steam engines and more.
Maybe people like to bring back memories, of when they personally operated or owned such machinery, or maybe they like to see and appreciate part of our history. Maybe, like myself, and even as my wife commented, they appreciate the work and detail that went into restoring these old machines.
I am glad to know the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Association now has started a Ford registry, so a club can be started. So in the future, all Ford/Fordson tractor enthusiasts will have a source to turn to for information and help.
I left the show inspired to find a few missing parts for my own tractor, to bring it back to original condition. All I know is, in a couple of weeks there is an antique tractor and machinery show about an hour from home, and you'll probably find me there. They say there should be a warning label on these machines, which says, 'WARNING: Reading about or working on Antique Machinery can be habit-forming.'