19107 E. 18th St. N. Independence, Missouri 64058
My friend Kenny called one day and needed an 8 HP Briggs for a tiller he was working on. I asked him what he had to trade. He started telling me about these two old lawn mowers he had pulled out of a junk ditch. He said you could make one out of the two. Needing a riding mower, I said that would be a fair trade. They turned out to be Wheel Horses. Using the two, I built one and used it all summer to mow my lawn.
My wife's uncle came by one day, and while fiddling around in the garage he asked me why I had painted the old Wheel Horse John Deere green. I really didn't know that what I had was a collectible. He told me what color it should be, and the year, and what I needed to do to restore it. The main thing he said was to stop mowing with it. I restored my Wheel Horse to original condition and when it was done I had an RJ 58-59. My wife talked me into showing it at the Northwestern Missouri Gas and Steam Engine Show in Hamilton, Missouri. Her uncle, Russell Moss, was one of the founders in 1963, so she had been around old rusty iron most of her life. We had such a great time we decided we would go to the Gladstone, Missouri, Show a few months later.
That winter I bought a Fairbanks-Morse D from a guy in the Mo-Kan Antique Club we joined.
I restored the D and had an idea to power the other Wheel Horse frame I had with this old D. I had to buy three different junk Ds to get the right crankshaft to power the tractor. I stretched the frame 6 inches, trimmed the hood and extended the steering rod. To engage a clutch system, I used the mower deck height lever. I painted it to original colors and had a suburban 400 powered by a Fairbanks-Morse D engine.
My eleven-year-old daughter and I have a lot of fun driving them around the different shows we go to.
Along with my two Wheel Horses, I have a few other engines and am working on restoring an old Gibson lever-steer tractor. I believe I've caught the Rusty Iron Bug!