Mike Rohrich's 5Minneapolis-Moline
7148 Dodgeon Court Cincinnati, Ohio 45231
What makes a tractor get up and go is a mystery to many. But it's no mystery just hard work for five exhibitors at the fifteenth Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Fair in Georgetown, Ohio.
Combining brawn with brain, five mechanical craftsmen face lifted the old iron dinosaurs of the field restoring them to full power. Having their tractors on display, they talk of their sporting adventures and the lessons they learned getting these old metal hulks running and rolling again.
Mike bought his Minneapolis-Moline at a local consignment sale, a 1949 4-plow model U which does its share of farm work. 'Me, my Dad and my brother farm about 400 acres,' Mike says, 'and we have ten altogether.' A litter of ten Minneapolis-Molines! His old-timer belongs to the series that sold under the slogan 'vision line design.' The seat stood high on these VLD's and could be swung off-center by jerking the hips. The operator could sit and see all around, every planted row, from his swivel seat. Minneapolis-Moline built one of the Army's first 'jeep vehicles.' They were tractors scaled down with truck wheels. Molines haven't rolled off assembly lines since the White Company absorbed them and Oliver and Cockshutt. Like Molines in general, there are few model U's around. 'Extinct...gone,' Mike says of his favorite tractor, the 'prairie gold' Molines are scarce as the big grass prairie itself whose sod they helped rip, a prairie which stretched one time across miles to Batavia, Ohio, where Mike farms.
Don Carlier began a hobby and career at the same time. He left the Navy (years ago) and joined Anstaett, the Case dealer. He left Anstaett, but he hangs onto the old Case workhorses. It's been a lively past time with him ever since. 'I liked them,' he said, fondly remembering the old tractors, 'They were the best.' Don was looking for PTO parts to repair his Dad's '37 Case when he found his '38 RC in Afton, Ohio. 'It was in too good a' shape to part out,' he recalls. He bought it and he keeps it in just a hare's hair of mint condition. Case made three models in that era: a small RC, a three-plow DC and a big LA 'wheatland' tractor for the rugged, rolling prairie lands.
Delbert Parker of Sardinia bought his 1942 John Deere in 1982. His grandfather had one, and he wanted an LA model 'like grandpa had.' The LA is a small tractor, easy to garden, easy to transport. He found one between Mount Orab and Williams-burg which he keeps for show. . . (and for looks!) with a buzz saw on front and a chain-driven Milwaukee mower on back. With the help of his neighbor Glen Pindell, he made the rip saw. Raising it up from the operator's seat by crank, he explains, 'All you do is drop it down with the belt in place and it works.' With the technical savvy of an expert engineer, he pointed to the lefthand thread on the sawshaft, then the 'piece from the phone company,' and finally to a triangular brace made 'from Allis-Chalmers cultivators.' Each was a standby part that slipped into his 'from scratch' design. 'LA's start easy, run easy, are easy to handle and John Deere makes parts,' he says. Tapping a freeze plug on the engine block, he adds, 'I could order a new one.' He went on with his story about his freeze plugs but in a different light. When one of his freeze plugs started to leak, he popped it out, brushed off the rust and resealed it in place with epoxy glue. The plug hasn't leaked since not a drop. Delbert participated in the antique power show for his ninth year, but it was the first year he was forbidden to go in the uptown parade. 'Cleats,' he says, pointing out his mower wheels. The old 'Gay 90's' mower had a four-foot bar, a wooden tree, and unlike any mower he'd ever seen, a lightweight chain drive in place of a worm gear box. The mower is a one-of-a-kind and more than double the age of his Deere.
'I don't use them, I just show them,' Paul Miller says. Paul is President of the Highland County Antique Club which had their first show in June at the Rocky Fork State Park. 'We had 37 tractors and we had 16,208 people go through.' Standing beside him, Amy Mills of Fayettesville, an honorary member of the Highland County Club, had a word or two to say about the model B, 1935 vintage, he was driving. 'It was a big hunk of rust like the one I'm driving over there,' she says. The rust-blistered 'gas pull' came out of the Clinton County area in '81. Tretz well drillers of Hillsboro own it and keep it looking new, cultivators and all. Paul is as partial to John Deere as his Dad is. His Dad was in the John Deere business at Moorse Hardware and Implement in Feesburg. Evidently some of his Dad's likes rubbed off on Paul, because he stays with John Deere, too.
Tom Burer is owner of an Oliver 80 Row Crop, which he paid $800.00 for. Water pumps in the old Olivers tend to develop sudden leaks. Tom took the dribble from his own rather coolly, 'They're not hard to repair,' he says. To give his Oliver a 'like new' look, he switched the core around and put the best side of his radiator out front. In rebuilding his Oliver his toughest problem was finding the right color. For that, he called Lyle Dumont, an Oliver collector in Sigourney, Iowa. The mix he recommended was $40.00 per gallon. Tom had the color made up. But the company doing the mixing slipped and substituted a paint number. The first time Tom painted his Oliver, he painted it the wrong green. The old Oliver came to Tom on rubber. 'I spent more than fifty dollars in long distance calls for front steel,' he tells. He found a set in Mishawaka, Indiana, but the fellow he sent after them returned with a rusted out pair. That was no good for Tom. He drove back with the fellow himself to dredge up a better pair. Together they hunted and hunted for four hours among endless rows of tractors. As they were getting ready to leave, he found some. 'The trip up there is 250 miles,' Tom says, 'We drove it twice, both ways, so I can say I drove a thousand miles for these wheels.'
The fair, now in its fifteenth year, is one of Ohio's finest. During its special weekend in August, the fairgrounds come alive with hit-and-miss engines, flea-market merchants, homemade ice cream and a Saturday evening square dance. No one misses the 'noon whistle' or the line-up and parade around the grandstand. The kids take turns shimmying up a larded pole; older ones join in the tobacco-spitting contest. The top event of the fifteenth season is the egg crack. Operators back their grandaddy tractors to an egg in a vice. They try to crack the shell with the drawbar and not spill the yoke. In the first years of the century the Case Steam Engine Company advertised their giant steam machines touting that engineers could crack an egg with the drawbar and not punch out the yoke. And that's just what the drivers in the antique league try to do... back into the egg but keep the hen from sassin'. (The Case, by the way, lost!)
The Fifteenth Anniversary Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show was held at the Brown County Fairgrounds, Georgetown, Ohio on August 9, 10, 11, 1985. Officers of the Club are: Frankie Carrington, President, Jim Gifford, Vice President, Caryl Carrington, Treasurer, Wanda Griffith, Secretary. Board of Directors: Floyd Reveal, Roger Neal, John Metcalfe, Don Housh, Ronald Klein, John Kleinmann, Wendell Kelch, Danny Hardyman, Bruce Egbert, Stanley Mack, Greg Dyer, Maxwell Murphy, Ronnie Griffith, Earl Pringle and Tom Kattine.
'Here are a couple of pictures of rare gas engines that were at the Butterfield Threshing Bee, in Butterfield, Minnesota on August 17 and 18, 1985. These very nicely restored 1905 or 1906 Gade Brothers 1 HP (top) and an inverted 5 HP 1905 Hart Parr are owned by Ed Streich of RR Mt. Lake, Minnesota 56159.'
Submitted by David Nelson, RR #1, Mt. Lake, Minnesota 56150.
'This is the way we start out the morning,' we hear from the Berkshire Flywheel Farm, Dodd Rd, S and is field, Massachusetts 01255.