233 Davis Road Westminster, Massachusetts 01473
Raymond G. Chapdelaine, Lunenburg, Massachusetts, GMC truck
dealer, began collecting headless Wittes in the late 1970s. With
the help of his two sons and son-in-law, he located, acquired and
restored almost the entire line of Wittes, by about 1982 or 1983.
The collection included the 2-3-4-6-8-12-16 and 22 HP. They also
fabricated matching trailers in order to show them, as well as
purchasing and restoring three GMC trucks with trailers to carry
the whole collection to shows.
Ray passed away in 1988 at the young age of 58, leaving the
business to his two sons, Mike and Mark. They had young families
and a growing dealership to operate, so the Wittes sat in Mom’s
barn, pretty much untouched, for twelve years. During that time
Ray’s son-in-law, Dan, got the bug for collecting John Deeres,
and he joined the Central Massachusetts Steam, Gas and Machinery
Association, based in Orange, Massachusetts (a favorite show of
The club’s June 2000 show featured the Witte engine, and
some members of the club knew of Ray’s collection and offered
to help Dan get the engines out of the barn and running. Along with
my persuasion, the task began of moving them from Ray’s barn in
Lunenburg to Dan’s barn in Westminster, then loading them back
up to take them to Orange. Of course, Dan doesn’t quite have
the equipment that Ray did, so they were loaded two by two or one
by one to the show. They still attract as much attention today as
they did 15-20 years ago.
Some notes and correspondence Ray made enabling us to get the
history on some of the engines:
Purchased the 2 HP at the Dublin, New Hampshire show from a man
in Chabot, Vermont. Ray tried to use the 2 HP to start the 22 HP,
to no avail.
Purchased the 6 HP at an auction in Owl’s Head, Maine, July
The 16 HP ran a gristmill on the Ohio River in West Virginia at
The 22 HP ran a sawmill in Colebrook, New Hampshire.
Purchased the 12 HP from a man named Richard Burkholder.
We have a briefcase full of correspondence from all over the
country regarding information and leads on John Deere tractors and
Wittes. I’m sure that if Ray were still alive today, he would
be spending hours on the Internet searching for the 30 HP to finish
off his collection.