The Bowlin tractor is a powerful piece of equipment, but learning to drive it is difficult if one desires to go any direction but forward.
Box 55, Nineveh, New York 13813
There are many museums in the Central Leather Stocking Region of New York State. For the iron nut the one to visit is Archie Hubbard's Eastern Fayette Guilford Museum in the center of the historic village of Guilford. (Box 207, Guilford, NY 13780.) It is not as famous as the Baseball Hall of Fame and the other museums in nearby Cooperstown, but it has the largest, most unusual collection of antique tractors and farm machinery that I have ever seen.
Archie Hubbard is a lifelong collector of antiquity. Over the years he has collected just about everything. I am well acquainted with Archie, we are both long time members of the Southern Tier Antique Engine Association and its satellite club.
The best way to describe the satellite club is to call it a fraternity of iron nuts from the main club. These guys are a bunch of die hards who can't get the old iron out of their system. For knowledge they can't be beat. One Tuesday night a month they meet in different members' workshops, where they impart more knowledge on the other members. When you take a piece of old iron that has been buried in the ground fifty years and make it look like new, that is insanity, not good sense. The money spent in restoration exceeds the finished value, but that's what this hobby is all about.
Archie Hubbard takes his turn in the winter months hosting the satellite meetings. Sometimes I wonder who puts on the better show, some of the satellite club members arguing about old iron or Archie's turn of the century circus. There are clowns in both places! All joking aside, a lot of miracles came out of Archie Hubbard's workshop and the satellite club.
Archie restored a 1918 Moline tractor, he had it all painted and ready to start. When he poured water into the radiator it came out the exhaust pipe. This shook Archie up a bit, but it didn't lick him. He pinpointed the trouble, got out his trusty old mirror and nickel welding rods and proceeded to weld the invisible sand casting hole in the valve chamber. This is what retired the tractor in the first place. Today this Moline tractor holds an honored place in the museum. It's Archie's conversation piece, he has to tell all of his guests how he made this impossible weld.
The Moline tractor was designed to work like a horse and drive like a team of horses. Too bad it wasn't designed to eat like a horse, that would save a lot of gasoline. Archie has the original literature on the Moline tractor. There are 35 different attachments, all bearing a resemblance to horse drawn attachments. Archie doesn't go for ordinary things in his museum, those are stored in a couple of barns the public doesn't see.
There are many unusual tractors in Archie Hubbard's collection, or in my opinion, nightmares. One in particular named Bowlin would sober a drunk man up or drive a sane man crazy. It is beyond description; it is a four wheel version of a small riding tractor. It can go forward, backwards, sidewise and every which way in the same gear. The two front wheels make a complete 360° turn. Steering becomes reversed when the wheels are reversed.
Archie has more than a side wheeler engine collection, he has an unusual car engine collection, some of which are still in the cars. He has the famous PAL Crosley Fire Truck that took so many kids for a ride years ago in the city of Binghamton.
I don't think Archie would forgive me if I didn't mention his railroad memorabilia. He has a fine collection of steam whistles off the locomotives and other devices used on the railroad; he even has the complete blueprints of every locomotive ever used on the O&W Railroad. Guests can take a short break in a section of an 1895 O&W Railroad coach. The years have been kind to it, the stove in the corner is ready to fire up and the upholstery on the seats is nice. After a long walk through the museum I find myself sitting down in one of the seats resting, looking out the window, reminiscing of the days gone by when I used to ride the train. I was in another world! Those were the good old days, I'm sorry they're ancient history now.
Archie is putting together a library of early American books, six of which date back to the late 1700's. They can be viewed from a distance, they are too fragile for the public to handle. From these publications he has an amazing pictorial record of the many dams that supplied water power from Guilford Lake to the many industries in Guilford. He has one complete house dedicated only to the historical village of Guilford. Archie has some of the farm equipment made by Pearly Merchant in the village of Guilford.
The Eastern Fayette Guilford Museum is open only during the summer months, but Archie can be found most other times in his workshop attached to the museum restoring some new marvel. His door is always open to iron nuts, he will always stop work to visit. He has made many friends this way who are always helping him to find more museum pieces. This is the secret to the success of the museum, a friendly atmosphere.