Collecting: The Fun of the Hunt

By Staff
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In a small field beside David's barn, he and his brothers and father worked to set up the corn shocks.

3203 Norton Rd. Radnor, Ohio 43066

The first thing you see as you approach the David Baxter farm
from the west is a large, pristine white barn. David recently had
it built to shelter some of his farming equipment and much of his
antique farm machinery collection. He hates to see any equipment
left out to weather and rust.

When David began his collection he specialized in gas engines
only. He and his friend, Alan King, would head out on Saturday
mornings to check out leads about some old gas engines. As they
drove along on obscure country roads they would ‘sniff out’
likely old farmsteads. More often than not they would meet an
interesting ‘older farmer’ who just happened to have a John
Deere or Economy gas engine sunk in the dirt floor of an old bam
shed. They would dicker a little until a deal was made and take
their ‘find’ home to keep or to fix up and sell.

David built his collection to forty gas engines. Soon he
realized that he did not own the collection as much as it owned
him. He had to start engines up regularly and run them for a while
to keep them in good condition. Then, come winter, all the fuel and
water tanks had to be drained. He decided to sell all but an
Economy, a Gray and a Rock Island.

The first piece of harvesting equipment David bought was an
Allis Chalmers combine with a forty inch cut and a bagger. It could
harvest about an acre an hour and the custom rate at the time of
its introduction was probably about two dollars an acre. He wanted
this model because it was the smallest one that Allis Chalmers made
and was only manufactured over a two year period.

Generally David prefers to leave his antique equipment ‘as
is’ after he gets it running but, if the piece is badly in need
of paint and showing a lot of rust, he paints. He found some of the
articles in the Gas Engine Magazine especially helpful in making
correct color choices because they specified the original color
numbers.

His collection of thirteen combines includes several he plans to
take to the Marion County Steam and Gas Engine Society Show in
Marion, Ohio in June of 1992. This year the Marion group is hosting
the International Harvester Collectors’ national meet called
the ‘Red Power Roundup’ where all International Harvester
equipment and forerunners will be featured. David has a
McCormick-Deering 42 R combine with a bin, a McCormick-Deering 42
with a bagger, a McCormick-Deering 52 R and a 61 with a power
unit.

He also plans to show a 1P McCormick-Deering corn picker on
steel wheels with a side elevation and a No. 15 McCormick-Deering
hand tied, stationary baler. When running the 1P corn picker, four
rows of the corn field must be opened, usually by hand, before the
machine can begin to harvest because the placement of the elevator
at the side makes the wagon stand farther into the field than a
similar machine with the elevator mounted in the rear.

David has added to his collection of antique tractors until he
now has five. In addition to his McCormick-Deering baler he has a
Case baler, four corn shredders, a belt driven corn sheller,
several grist mills and a corn binder.

When asked how he found so many of these old pieces, David says,
‘Sometimes other collectors know where the old equipment is
located and sometimes machinery dealers take it in on trade. Most
of the time it is just the luck of stumbling onto it. If you
finally do locate a special piece stored safely inside some old
barn, very often it is not for sale at any price. Some of these old
guys are pretty sentimental about the equipment they or their
fathers used to farm with. Others who have taken care of these old
pieces are relieved that someone else will take it off their hands
and take good care of it. This is the kind of person I am always
happy to meet up with.’

For the past five years David, his brothers Bryan and Jim, and
his father Everett have held a ‘Fall Harvest’ where some of
these old pieces are used to harvest shocked corn. First a John
Deere corn binder cuts and ties the corn into bundles, then the
Baxters form these into as many as eighty shocks. Later after some
drying time, area men and members of the Marion County Steam and
Gas Engine Society, of which David is a charter member and a
trustee, will gather for the harvest. Don Kaelber, a neighbor, will
hitch up his horse team and bring loads of corn fodder bundles up
from the field to be run through the corn shredders. Then the corn
passes through the sheller and into a wagon while some of the
fodder is pressed into bales in one of the stationary balers.
Various equipment has been used over the years. When the Huber
Society acquired a large wooden corn shredder and got it into
running order it was used to see just how well it would
operate.

David’s wife Sara, his sisters-in-law Luretta and Christine,
and many of his nieces provide sandwiches, homemade pie and coffee
for a much needed break at noon. Then it is back to the field to
finish up.

Some of the corn fodder is placed on wagons and stored in one of
the barns. This will be used during demonstrations at the Marion
Show. At the end of the day it is time to put the equipment back
into the big white barn. David plans carefully for the placement of
these sprawling pieces which is like fitting together pieces in a
jigsaw puzzle.

A shed roofed addition has just been completed at the back of
David’s big barn. More room for a growing collection? He is
still looking for galvanized combines with high bins and a corn
picker with ground drive and a bull wheel.

‘The funny thing is I have placed advertisements for old
machinery, carefully listing the features I am looking for, but the
people who call seem never to have read the ad at all. They wake me
up from a good nap and tell me all about some modern piece and try
to sell me on it. Once in a while, though, I get that special call
and off I’ll go to check out a lead. Sometimes I am
disappointed to find a dilapidated piece of equipment. You
can’t really tell until you look it over. Sometimes you do run
onto that one special piece you have been searching for. That’s
what makes collecting this equipment so much fun. That and taking
it to the shows where you meet other collectors who are just as
crazy as you are.’

Contact David Baxter at 3203 Norton Road, Radnor, Ohio 43066 or
call (614) 494-2489. He can provide information about ‘Red
Power Roundup’ and the Marion, Ohio Show, too.

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