Part 1 - About Tulare
The 5th Annual California Antique Farm Equipment Show was held in pleasant weather and abounded with lots of fine folks and machinery. Tulare (pronounced two-LAIR-ee) is located in California's San Joaquin Valley less than half way from Fresno to Bakersfield. The show is held in the same facilities that house the largest annual farm show in the world, which I sorely wanted to attend a couple of months ago. Farms in these parts are world class amazing, and at least as innovative, industrious and productive as they were on my last trip here visiting the Valley's Case dealers twenty-one years ago on business. The variety and volume of their farm output is staggering. The farm leaders here are also big on volunteering their time to benefit their community. This month's (April '97) Successful Farming magazine has a fine article about the first chairperson of Tulare's Antique Farm Equipment Show, the late George Watte. The article is aptly named "A Giving Legacy."
The Tulare show certainly reflects the history and variety of California farming. There was no shortage of tracked vehicles nor of large or innovative machines from the past. Where else could you see a Fageol (pronunced FAY-jull methinks) tractor? These folks liked brute power and artful tweaking of machinery to prod the most from it. Show attendees loaded the stands all Sunday afternoon to watch the tractor pulling. These included entire families, often with three generations participating in parading and cleaning their vintage iron. A few tractors looked far better than when they were new, and others wore their working rusty colors. As with similar shows in other parts of the country, this one was full of good people free with their time, memories and learned experience. These industrious fellow fans of old iron made me feel right at home.
Tractors seemed grouped together mostly by engine clubs or others that owners belonged to. The IH club guys had a booth and the Watte family had a large area. Many clubmembers roosted in adjacent trailers close to their show space. The atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed, and many shared meals together. On Sat. night a large dinner was served inside, and past attendees were hungry for it. But tickets sold out early, so I am not as heavy as I might have been if I'd figured a way to snare one late.
Ed Ponte from Petaluma, shown with his wide front Farmall H, has some fine help from wife Tracy, who handles sheet metal and finish work on their tractor restorations. Son JR is also very much into good iron, and has appeared with tractors in two of the family's Christmas cards. Ed has a nice shop to do his tractor work and is currently restoring a John Deere B.
Tracy and JR touring the grounds with a sharp MH Pony and JR's private wagon with his name painted on the side.
When I asked JR if he collected tractors, he quickly reached down and showed me one.
Fellow ATIS emailer Dee Schuyler (firstname.lastname@example.org) with daughter Sandra Feliz and grandson Daniel Feliz. Daniel seems right proud of Dee's 1929 John Deere D, and you can see why here and below.
These spoked wheels are positively elegant.
This looks ready for another 68 years of work.
Pat Alegria of Orosi (here with his wife Phoebe) really knows IH track machines. This International TracTracTor (he has several) is equipped with a straight 6 gas engine.
It seemed handy to have a skilled grandson, Joey McCamey, along to do the parade work at the show.
Allen Berry on his 1957 Volvo Krabat with matching side-by-side chrome filler caps on the hood - one for fuel and one for hydraulic fluid. Forgot to ask him if the identical caps ever caused mixups during filling.
Allen on a 1955 Porsche Diesel.
Guess what you can do for fun after retiring from a career as a Professor of Mechanized Agriculture at CSU Fresno? Howard Martin of Clovis decided to restore the '37 Farmall F-12 he learned to drive at age 12, when his dad bought it new. Other projects included resurrecting a venerable 1 1/2 horse Fairbanks Morse Engine to power a smaller tractor to be guided by grandson Daniel.
Daniel demos tractor that Howard built in 1996.
John Stewart of Visalia said his dad, Howard Stewart, bought this 1946 Cat D2 from a neighbor who had purchased it new. When John, standing here by his prize, did a serial no. check when fixing it up he was delighted to find that the tractor was born the same year he was.
John also brought along his wide front John Deere G. Out of state folks will be quick to note wheel weights similar to these on the G on many of the tractors here. I heard many like these called Fresno weights or something similar, depending I suppose on where/by whom in the Valley they were made.
For me, John Boehm's Fageol was one of the most interesting tractors at the show.
It's background was skillfully described by John:
Originally manufactured by Fageol Motors Co., Oakland, CA, who also made trucks and buses. Tractor production started in 1918 and was later taken over by Great Western Motors, Inc., San Jose, CA. This tractor, serial number 16035, is one of the later ones made by Great Western. Production ceased by 1924.
It is powered by a four cylinder Lycoming engine and has one forward and one reverse speed. They were rated at 9-12 horsepower. Unique features include its drive wheels, tiller bar steering, and the fact that there is no main clutch or differential - just two expanding friction band steering clutches, one on each side of the rear axle. To make it go, you depress the steering clutches, grind the gears, let the clutches out, and hope you get away in a straight line!
This tractor was originally purchased by Henry Hartmann (1865-1938) of Livermore, who was a pioneer farmer in the Livermore Valley. It was used for dry land farming in the area and was passed on to Mr. Hartmann's nephew, John F. Kiely (1904-1992). I purchased the tractor in August 1993 from Mr. Kiely's sons, John, Hugh, and Dennis Kiely. Floyd Percival and Stan Gladney helped me get the tractor back into running condition."
In case you're wondering if John's proud of his pedigreed iron, he also added: "S.N. 16035, Owned by John Boehm, Woodland, CA"
I talked John into posing with his rare iron and kidded him about how the stilleto-style lugs on the wheels might be rather hazardous to feet, pets, roads, etc. They are some serious looking spikes.
Well, I guess if it's got a Lycoming engine, it ought to have a stick instead of a wheel.
Behind Matt Boehm (John's son and a fine fellow) is a modified Oliver. John again furnished a well written description:
"This highly modified Oliver HG68 uses a 4 cylinder Hercules engine with a 3 ¼ inch x 4 inch bore. It was rated at 16 ½ drawbar horsepower in Nebraska test # 434.
The 68 in HG68 means a tread width (center to center) of 68 inches. This tractor has been further widened to a track width of 80 inches. The tracks have also been lengthened by thirty inches and two track rollers on each side have been added to give a total of five rollers per side. To give more clearance 12" pipes with pads were welded to each original pad. To compensate for the higher speeds of the increased track radius, a second transmission has been added. The seat is eliminated and a standing platform and hand clutch has been provided. Finally the addition of a framework (possibly for carrying irrigation pipe?) makes the overall width about 9'6".
This tractor was used in the San Jose area in the cultivation of cauliflower and broccoli. I purchased this tractor at an auction in November 1996 in the same condition as you are now viewing it.
As you can see, California is not short on attractive restored Olivers.
Carl Schroeder and Sherman Bohard do fine tractor work. This Fordson and the other Fords below were part of the gorgeous exhibit of Kuckenbecker Tractor Co. and really show attention to detail. Carl is the service manager there, and Sherman is the master restorer of the company's Ford tractor collection. Richard Kuckenbecker and his dad are very knowledgeable about the history of Ford farm machines, and the company is celebrating its 51st year of business in Madera. They shared many memories with show visitors and provided very interesting answers to questions about the history of Ford tractors and their dealerships in the Valley.
The sight really took me back. A neighbor near my grandfather's farm bought one like this new when I was a young boy - but even new it was not as sharp as this one. Richard told me this was the first 9N shipped to California. It was kept and worked by the Ford Tractor dealer in Fresno that received it and was acquired by the Kuckenbeckers later when they bought the dealership.
Look at how this shines - I'd never seen an 9N this pretty.
Plows like this were common in the area in Missouri where I used to farm. Richard K. said this fine specimen was a good deal less attractive or complete when its restoration was begun.
Sights like this must have thrilled the hearts of new tractor buyers and others who wanted to be - about a half-century ago.
Look at Sherman's fine attention to detail.
Fordson ignition almost turned into an art form.
This was once more modern - but never looked better.
From the Kuckenbecker exhibit handout about this Fordson:
"The Fordson tractor production in America had ceased in 1928 and moved to Cork, Ireland and later to Dagenham, England. This tractor was built in Dagenham and YES the orange color is correct. For only two years, 1937 & 1938, the tractor was painted orange so that it could be more identifiable."
William Bechthold of Lodi displayed this handsome 1933 Cletrac.
Next to the Cletrac he also had this mighty fine Oliver HG crawler.
Many of the shiny tractors at the show were not so fancy when they entered restoration. Some were rusting heaps that required hundreds or more hours of work, hunting rare parts, patience, major input of money, and/or lots of improvising to renew. Since I have shown many "AFTERs", it's only right to show a "BEFORE" for balance. This Cat 10 in pieces was being towed home after a far off purchase when its owner, Steve Duerksen of Covina, parked it in the show parking lot to take time out to see the show. You might find him with this smallest of Cats back together and decked out in factory-fresh splendor at a future Tulare show. Good luck to you, Steve!
Trying to negotiate the high calorie snares of candy, meats, and such in the indoor displays, I found the booth of Binder Books (Tigard, OR). It was ably manned by Scott Satterlund and his wife Cyndi. As you can see, they were happy to show me their latest edition - 10 week old Jessalyn Rose Satterlund. I was able to pick up a copy of a reprint of Corporate Tragedy (about the demise of IHC) by Barbara Marsh. (I had ordered it earlier from Scott by email after reading comments on ATIS about his reprinting it.) The booth had some fine reading on old iron, but the most fun I had was seeing Scott's eyes light up when a friend stopped by the booth to show off a nice old set of tiny factory-issue magneto wrenches purchased at an auction. Scott gazed on it as intently as a five year old that had found a new pocketknife with a built in whistle. It's not hard to imagine him having great fun when he makes a particularly good find of rare old tractor books and literature.
Ira Matheny gave me a ride in his International Truck while he was helping Scott move his books out after the show.
This was one of the better collections of signs I have seen at a show. Almost all old brands of tractors were represented. I'm old enough to remember some of these. (Even practiced reading skills as a kid on Burma-Shave signs along country roads and I kinda miss 'em.)
There was non-stop pulling going on all Sunday afternoon. Here, a Massey Harris 44 Special goes a long way for Don Freitas from Manteca.
Among other things, this part of California is definitely Cat country. Steve William of Ivanhoe bought this 1941 D8 Cat from a friend recently and was mighty pleased when he found that it starts, runs and does heavy field work like a much younger machine.
Steve's grandsons, Cody and Garrett Dunn, are obviously enjoying the ride at least as much the driver.
Just to see how much the pulling test machine would load down the Cat, Steve pulled it. Although the machine had given the big wheeled tractors a fit, it was no match for the D8.
When I was closer to Cody and Garrett's ages, it used to thrill me to see big Cats like this do their stuff. Still does, but now I have an itch to work one in the field. This is Steve loading the D8 for the trip home.
The show was blessed with many restored antique gas engines. Mike Tyler was not around to explain this nice 1920 9 hp Galloway engine when I happened by, so his wife Donna showed it to me. She said that Ed Cooksey had helped with this beautiful restoration. Many engines at the show were attached to pumps or other loads and run for awhile, so the area abounded with putts and pops and such sounds that are music to us old iron fans.
There was no shortage of rusty iron on sale at the show. A lot of it, like this Briggs and Stratton engine, brought back childhood memories. We had a small orchard sprayer powered by a cousin of this junior powerplant waiting on the ground for a new home.
Paul Haddens's Huber Light Four bears a prominent 1919 on its gas tank.
Paul's wife Bertha shows off operator's platform of the Huber. The Haddens are from Desert Hot Springs, CA.
NOTE: Sure would appreciate any corrections in case I've accidently mixed up my notes and assigned anyone above the wrong tractor, grandson, hometown, wife, name, etc. I've tried to keep everything straight, but I talked with many folks and took many photos during the show. Would also appreciate any comments or suggestions on other items you might like to see in future show descriptions.
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This page was created on 5/3/97 by Chuck Bealke (email@example.com)
Postscript (5/02/98) For more info on the Tulare show, see the official show site.