A Birthday Present


| July/August 1974



Birthday Tractor

Courtesy of Steve Helle, Room C131, Hillcrest Dormitory, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Steve Helle

Room C131, Hillcrest Dormitory, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Fay Strait, 44, an Iowa farmer hailing from near Center Point, realizes his collection of '80 or better' gasoline engines and 40 antique tractors might not be the most beautiful sight to behold.

'I don't have a whole lot of 'em painted up yet, but I figure I can always paint up. I can't always buy up,' is his philosophy. 'Besides, if they're painted, it takes some of the oldness away from 'em.'

His wife, Lila, added that they had been thinking of putting the sign 'Rust Museum' over the 44 by 90 foot steel shed Fay built to house part of his treasures. But they didn't want to discourage the Sunday visitors that always seem to drop by either to browse or buy. The first tractor model Fay usually shows curious tourists is his favorite, a circa 1923 Rumely oil-pull. He calls it his 'birthday tractor.' His wife bought it for him on his 40th birthday and its been his proudest possession since. But perhaps not so for much longer.

'I've got one coming next week that is three times bigger. It'll be a 30-60 Rumely and weighs eight and three-quarter tons. That's the biggest one they ever made.'

The Rumelys are called 'oil-pulls' because they have no water in their cooling system, explained Fay. 'They're all oil-cooled and run on kerosene,' he said.