Memories of Tractors and Gas Vehicles

Sherman Kline shares stories and memories of tractors and gas vehicles he has owned over the years.

Mr. Harry Bonnema

Photo courtesy of Harry Bonnema, Lemars, Iowa.


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Sherman Kline's memories of tractors and gas vehicles. 

As I sit here in the warm you can look out and see the trees all covered with ice. They look like beautiful big crystal chandeliers with the sun shining on them.

I promised Elmer a little story for the G.E.M. about tractors and gas vehicles. So will do so. First a little about how this started. I was born in January, 1901.

My first recollection of Farm Motive power was steam, but that is another story.

The first gas vehicle I remember was a motorcycle, which was a Henderson. There were two brothers, Willie and Glenn Green, who rode past our home. We were just little Shavers at that time.

The first automobile I ever rode in was a one cylinder Cadillac. How nice the thing seemed to ride. My father got his first car in 1918. It was a Maxwell. We wore this car completely out.

In about 1920 my mother got an Economy 11/2 horse power gas engine to run the washing machine and it was a good engine. We were on a large farm at the time.

In 1921 the farm was sold so Dad sold out and moved to a small farm. I had to look for a job or rather it came to me in the form of a neighbor. He had an old Fordson Tractor. While there I bought my first auto, which was a new Model T Ford Coupe 1925. While there I also met the girl who was destined to be my wife. That was forty years ago.

After our wedding trip my father-in-law asked me to go in partners with him on his farm. You see, I married his housekeeper as his wife had passed on.

Now the gas business — he had a Fordson Tractor which we used for several years with four horses and said tractor.

He also had parked back of the shed a "Little Bull Tractor," a three wheeled tractor which I as a youngster just had to see it work. I managed to get it going and had a lot of experience with it.

I also had an IHC Titan which I used to pull stumps on about 5 acres of new ground. Finally the Little Bull and The Titan were scrapped for war scrap.

Then in 1935 I traded the old Fordson on a new Model C Case. The picture with the spades on is the way it looked when I bought it.

This is a Massey Harris Pony. I do garden plowing, etc. with this outfit. Also does the belt starting on some of my stubborn engines.

As time moved on so did the advance in farm power. In order to use it on the hay fields I had to put it on rubber as the spade cleats would push the hay down in the ground so deep that the rakes of that time could not get it, also to move it on the paved highways. Then I ran into another problem.

In plowing on heavy sod, the sod wheel kept slipping so I would stall. Next I had to install independent brakes, that made it work. Next power takeoff machinery began to be popular, so I had to install a power shaft. This lasted a few years, then the hydraulic systems took to the field. So I decided to buy a new tractor with every thing on it.

I then decided to paint the case and spruce it up a little, so I could put it in some of the shows. So you see we, the Mrs. and I, have been going to some of these — what do you call them? — Steam Shows. The picture which has the top on it is as it looks today.

I installed an air brake system from a truck on it so I could pump up the tires and spray paint, also last but not least to Blow Steam Whistles with air.

Some of my 430 gas engines. Picture taken at the Booneville threshing show in 1964. The air-cooled engine is a 3 hp Gade.

We have had lots of compliments and fun, also offers to buy it.

I almost forgot to say my father-in-law was a steam thresherman, sawmill and shingle Mill man and a good one. He taught me how to saw lumber that could be used and use all of it.

Will try and give a little story about him, as that is another story. We have pictures of his rig and crew. Were he living today he would be 100 years old.