Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bonneyville Mill

Back in the old days.......and I mean before the age of the automobile, tractors and the like, if you were a farmer and needed to get any of your grain processed, you had to somehow "tote" it to a grist mill somewhere.  Some of the old timers would do exactly that.  They would hitch up a team of horses to their wooden wagon and haul the grain to get it ground into flour or livestock feed. In later days farmers would bring their grains to the mill with the wagons hitched to their newly found tractors.

I am very fortunate to live near one of these old mills that is still in operation today as an attraction and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  This mill is called Bonneyville Mill and is located in Elkhart County, Indiana just east of the little town of Bristol.  The mill is right in the heart of the 223 acre Bonneyville Mill County Park and is open from May through October every year.

Each fall, usually in September, the Bonneyville Mill County Park hosts an event called "Bonneyville Heritage Day" where there are a lot of things going on to bring attention to Elkhart County's rich agricultural heritage. Antique tractor and machinery exhibits abound as well as sawmill demonstrations and, of course, the grinding of corn, wheat, rye and buckwheat which can purchased. You can learn the history behind this old mill here. [http://www.elkhartcountyparks.org/properties_locations/bonneyville_mill.htm]
Very interesting history indeed.

Here are a couple of photos that I took of this old mill in 2011.  I think it's a beautiful structure!

Anytime you are in this part of the country and you're inclined to find your mind wandering back to the "good ol' days", it would be well worth your time to look up this gorgeous site.

Friday, January 15, 2016

What The Heck Do You Do With Your Restored Old Iron?

Answer is....I don't know there is a perfect, absolute answer to this question.  The main reason is that there are too many people that collects an old piece of iron (or two or three) or restores them and they may all have different ideas.  Display 'em, use them on their hobby farms, invest in them, whatever!  But one thing is for sure, there are a lot of these people who attend antique tractor shows with their machines solely for the purpose of the parade.  You get to drive 'em, right?

Aaaah.....the parade!  Back in the early fall of 2014, I had visited the 32nd annual Antique Engine and Tractor Show held by The Michigan Flywheelers on the grounds of their Museum.  Their Antique Engine and Tractor Show is one of the state of Michigan's largest shows of its kind.  And of course, when it came time for the parade that day, I decided to get me a good spot about the middle of the parade route, and prepared my trusty Canon EOS digital camera.

There were hundreds of old tractors in this show and there were at least 50 of them entered in the parade.  There were lots of the more common tractors built by International Harvester, John Deere, Case, Allis Chalmers, Minneapolis Moline, etc. but also some of the more rare manufacturers, too.  One of these "rare" tractors was the "Love" tractor like the 1939 model shown here during the parade that day.  The Love tractor company was located in Benton Harbor, Michigan in the early days and later relocated to Eau Claire. Michigan.

The company was founded by Jabez Love of Benton Harbor, Michigan soon after he got out of college.  Living around the "fruit belt" of Southwest lower Michigan, he saw the need for the fruit farmers in the area to get their produce to market faster.  He decided to build a vehicle from car and truck parts that would not only be sturdy, but would have a better top speed than the tractors that were being built in that time and day.  

Jabaz build row crop tractors in the early years beginning in 1933.  They were not popular in the area for fruit farmers though and the production didn't last very long before Jabaz was only producing the wide front orchard type tractors.  These were made between the years 1933 and 1936 and could reach 40 mph.  Really?  That was amazing for this time period.  Well, in this part of the country, a lot of the land was used to produce apples, peaches, grapes and other fruits and his wide front orchard tractor was the best application for operation in orchards and vineyards.  

These tractors were made all the way through 1937 when Jabaz began to redesign his orchard tractors with a new style hood that became famous for its look.... like the one shown in these photos.  These newly designed tractors could still work in fields plowing, discing, etc but could also reach 60 mph on the road.  This road speed was a step above most other tractors being built at the time.  The Model 30 had a 218 Cubic Inch Chrysler Industrial six cylinder engine (like the one shown in this post) and proved to be a real work horse.
As I said before, there were a lot of other tractors in the parade that day, but this one really caught my eye and I thought that I'd kind of let some other folks know a little bit of history about these old beasts.  Some of you viewers may already know the history of the these tractors and the Love company, but for those of you who don't.......Enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The History of Farming Must Guide Our Future

A farmer’s love for the earth and its seasons permeates his whole outlook. We may love the heavy farm equipment and modern tractors that make the work go faster – we need to stop and think (and learn) if we are doing what is best for the healthy regeneration of the planet. Examining some of the slower farming methods of the past can give us insights into how to best move forward into our collective future. The time to revert to some of these methods, for the sake of our health, and the health of the soils and the natural environment, is upon us.

Wangari Maathai, Nobel Laureate and soil activist, explains: “We take the soil for granted because it’s there; it’s everywhere, except when all of it is taken by the wind or by the running water. And then you are left with bare rock, and you realize you can’t do much with bare rock.”
In the pre-industrial age farming was a much different profession, in fact, most families who had some land would grow the majority of their own food – working together to plant, weed, tend, grow, harvest, prepare, and store food they had grown themselves from season to season. Animal-powered plows and hand sowing was common.
Seed saving was common as well because it also made the most sense: save the best seeds from your most prolific and hearty growers from year to year and you have healthier, more disease resistant, larger, tastier, crops every planting season. These became what we now call heirloom varieties – varieties that were selectively bred for favorable characteristics over time by the farmers who knew and observed their yields. If they picked the early or late germinators, they could even change the timing of their cops to avoid other seasonal issues, like frost, heavy rain, or recurring pests.

Unfortunately, we now also have GMO seeds, and seeds that are genetically designed to produce sterile fruits – making it harder and harder for farmers to eke out a living or scrape together the funds needed to buy seeds year after year. These seeds also do away with hand selection of robust plants, leaving little for the observant farmer to do but tend their growth and then do it all again the next year with virtually identical seeds – with no attempts to change in yields or productivity.
Community seed libraries are sprouting (pun intended) up around the nation, and growing our own food, saving the seeds, and swapping our seeds and surpluses with our friends, family and neighbors has become a revolutionary act.

Additionally, low tech solutions to farming are, while slower, much healthier for the soil and all the microorganisms that live therein. In a handful of soil there are hundreds of millions of organisms including bacteria, fungi, nematodes, insects, and others. Most of them work together symbiotically, essentially acting like the stomachs of the roots and creating a perfect environment for the transfer and uptake of nutrients from the surrounding soil – to the plants that grow in it. All of these microorganisms work together, to allow for not only the transfer of nutrients and the best conduction of water across membranes as well. 
In a commercially or mechanically farmed and tilled property – the soil unfortunately becomes compacted over time. The act of tilling and the pressure of the wheels, and the exposing lower parts of the soil or breaking through tough compacted layers may provide a temporary solution of opening up the ground in order to plant a seed. Unfortunately, these practices do nothing to create a rich healthy soil in the long-term - leading to unresolved and unhealed scarring year after year. This leads to cumulative unfavorable conditions like nutrient or water runoff issues, soil erosion, blow off, and more.

The easiest, healthiest soil is made from the breakdown of bio matter over time becoming a mixture of composted plant matter, bacteria, and fungi. This rich topsoil can include leaves, branches, twigs, grass, dead animals, manure, and other natural breakdowns over time that refuel the soil and create soft, sponge-like topsoil. If you’ve ever been in a protected old-growth forest, you’ll know what I’m talking about – the ground feels springy beneath your feet when you walk and the moisture held in those layers is apparent – especially in early mornings when the fog covers the forest floor.

It’s time to have heart-to-heart conversations with our soils, as Paul Gautschi does in his conversations with God in the Documentary Back to Eden, and ask the earth what it needs to heal and regenerate – before we lose our ability to grow healthy foods entirely. As Miguel Altieri, professor of Agroecology at the University of California explains in the documentary, Dirt! The Movie, “If we don’t take care of the soil, which is just the first five centimeters of life that is on the earth, our future is totally condemned.”

This article was written by Christine Rudolph [christinerudolph91@gmail.com] and sent to us for reposting here on our blog.  Thanks Christine!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Are you kidding me....Wooden farm Equipment models?

Here's something that might interest some of you Farm equipment and hit & miss engine guys and gals. Last year I met a guy through some e-mail conversations from my other web site called Ol' Dave's Woodshop. His name is Tom McAllister. Tom has been making wooden models for over 20 years now and in my humble opinion has developed a skill that few people ever try to accomplish. His work is immaculate in that the detail is not only apparent, but extremely attractive as well. Here is a link to an article I posted last year to my Antique Tractor web site called "Fastrac" where Tom had built a model of a 1958 Oliver 770 Diesel tractor.

Tom has recently retired and is now spending his time remodeling his house and building these fantastic models full time. I recently received another e-mail from him informing me that he was currently involved in repairing a 1930 Case hay press (baler) at his club and got so intrigued with it that he decided to try to build a wooden model of one of these old hay balers. He said he didn't have a clue as how to make the gears for it but after some trial and error, (and he said "heavy on the error") that he finally figured it out. The model, he says, works just like the real one. He said having a real full sized baler to go by made it much easier than his usual method of using what pictures that he could find or take on his own.

Take a look at the two photos (below) of Tom's finished model of this old baler.

He told me that since the actual real piece of equipment was orange, he decided to use African Mahogany for the body and American Hickory for the gears, wheels and hay shoot.

The guys at his club also challenged him to make a wooden hit and miss engine to run the model baler..... and so he did. This hit and miss engine model has a little battery-operated motor in it. He told me that he needs to work out a way to get more power to the engine and that he needs to find or make a drive belt, but as you can see from this short video below, he's well on his way. It even sounds a little like the real thing.


The engine is supposed to look like a McCormick-Dearing 6 or 8 hp. Take a look at the two photos of his hit & miss engine below.... I think he came pretty dang close, don't you? Most folks wouldn't know a hit and miss engine from a toaster but some of you would and I think he got about as close as most of us would ever get in an attempt like this. Tom's reason for choosing the model that he did is that this model of engine was one of the easiest styles to hide a motor and batteries in (which is necessary to make it run). It runs on 3 volts (or at least 3 volts gives the speed he wanted to achieve). Tom said that the two AAA batteries just don't have much staying power but he might try to solve that problem down the road.

Anyway, Tom has a web site called "Woodman's Collectibles" which you might want to go visit if this kind of thing is of an interest to you. I find it fascinating!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Wow...What a Truck!

Last fall I had the pleasure of attending the Bonneville Mill Fall Festival in Bristol, Indiana whereas there were quite a few old tractors, antiques, old time farming demonstrations and the like. One of the first things that I came upon while walking down to view the old tractors was a sawmill demonstration. I had been to this festival several times in past years and this sawmill demonstration was always powered by old steam engines.

This year was much different in that the power source for the saw equipment was an old home built power truck being operated by Todd Bush. The truck is a 1934 Ford which was originally a dump truck. It was amazing to me that this old truck had enough power to run the portable sawmill. The power obviously didn't come from the engine under the hood, it came from two 85 HP Ford flathead V-8 engines and transmissions attached to two Ford truck rear axles. All of this was mounted on the flatbed of the truck. the photo above right shows a close-up of the setup on the back of the truck.

When the unit is hooked up to the pulleys on the sawmill, it all looks like that in this photo here on the left.... the truck serving power to the mill (this photo not really a good one....sorry about the quality)

From talking to Todd, I was able to obtain a little more history on the truck. Here is some of what I was given........

It seems that in the old days of threshing, steam engine power was the only power strong enough to run the separators (threshing machines) but they were huge pieces of equipment that had to move from one farm to another. When farm tractors were eventually developed they took they place of the steam engines as a power source. In both cases however, moving from one farm to another was a long process at 2 - 3 miles per hour.  Getting the proper amount of power to machines in a much quicker time frame was the primary reasoning for this truck's existance!

The original developer of the 34 Ford power truck shown here was developed by Lamoin Bush and his son Max back in 1940 or so and they began using it for threshing in 1941. The truck was purchased from the Indiana State highway department and, as mentioned above, was originally a dump truck.  Lamoin had been using it to haul gravel, ice and other things until deciding to convert it to be used as a power unit for threshing.

The right hand engine has a Pierce governor belted to the crankshaft, which controls the speed on both of the engines. The gear train on this unit is two ring and pinion units for power input and a belt pulley on one of the wheels. Each engine has its own starter, clutch and cooling system (although only one generator is actively working at a time). The belt pulley was made from a Ford truck wheel and blocks of hardwood which eventually drives the belt.

After lining up the belt with the saw equipment, the right engine, which has the governor attached, is started up first. Once it is running, then the other engine is started. With both transmissions in high gear, the clutches are engaged (both clutches are engaged at the same time via a single clutch lever). The throttle operates this way as well.....that being a single control which was made from an emergency brake lever.  A 55 gallon oil drum is used to hold the fuel needed.

There is a lot more history and detail about this old truck in an article written by Pat Ertel that appeared in "This Old Truck Magazine" (which is now called "Vintage Truck Magazine") back in November, 2001. You might try to find that article on their website for those of you who might be interested.

It sure was a pleasure to meet Todd,  a grandson to Lamoin (who passed away in 1976) and to watch this old truck in action. This family exhibits the truck at many shows around the Midwest and if you ever get to see it operating, it will most likely amaze you..... as it did me.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Swamp Sisters

One of the neatest little places I've found this year!

While visiting my brother at his summer home in northern Minnesota, he suggested that we go to breakfast at a quaint little place near his home near Brookston, MN. About ten miles from his home, deep in the north woods, a group of sisters (I think there are about 5 of them) opened up a restaurant that is only open on the weekends.

Their family operates a farm carved out of the woods where they raise buffalos and process the meat. They serve the meat at the restaurant (as well as selling it individually to customers) and boy was it good! If you didn't know where this place was you would have a hard time finding it.

They don't do any advertising (as far as I know) and the customers hear about it by word of mouth.  As we arrived, you can see an old Minneapolis Moline tractor sitting in the front of the restuarant and being used as an attraction for the customers. I don't know for sure what model of MM tractor it is....but it don't really matter!  You can see a picture of it here above and to the right (The restaurant is in the background in the photo).

I must say, this was a real treat to an old tractor buff! I just had to share this with you all. The breakfast was delicious........especially the buffalo sausages that I had with my eggs. Northern Minnesota is beautiful any time of the year..... particularly in the summer. For those of you who have never been in this part of the country, the area is famous for its mining of iron ore and is very rocky terrain in most spots. The entire north shore of Lake Superior near this area which is close to Duluth is extremely beautiful to see.

The area is a world famous area to find and collect "Lake Superior Agates" which we have found ourselves obsessed with. If fact, my nephew who also lives in Duluth, is a professional photographer specializing in north country landscape and gemstone photos. If you want to see some of these beautiful specimens of agates and other gemstones, you can see them on his website here.

This area is an awesome area of our country to behold. I would suggest that if you ever want to visit a place that is as beautiful as any place in the U.S. then plan yourself a trip to this western end of Lake Superior. The area is full of history of the mining and shipping industries in America.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Preserving The Past!

Last fall a friend of mine traveled to Kansas for a short vacation to visit his wife's cousin whom they had not seen for a long time. As you probably know all too well, Kansas has a rich history in prairie farming. Aahhh.....those were the days! That's what a lot of the antique tractor collecting hobby is all about. Remembering the old days on the farm!

Soon after the turn of the 20th century, farmers were transitioning from horse drawn equipment into motorized power usage. There were many companies forming to manufacture replacement power for these pieces of equipment and one of the most prominent companies was the John Deere Plow Company. After developing the steel plow through many years of changes (and improvements to their plows) they began buying noncompeting farm equipment companies and started moving toward becoming a major player in farm equipment.

One of the companies that was purchased was the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company located in Waterloo, Iowa. They had introduced the "Waterloo Boy" tractor to farmers and out of this grew the development of a more powerful tractor with a lower center of gravity that was to become one of the most popular tractors available in the early part of the 20th century. That tractor was the John Deere Model "D".

This is where I get back to the story of my friend's trip to Kansas. Little did he know that his wife's cousin had restored one of these early John Deere D's! He sent me a picture of that old tractor that was taken at a fall festival that they all had attended on that trip. The tractor was mounted on full steel wheels. Here is the picture...........

You can see in the background a much newer John Deere four wheel drive tractor that is the result of the John Deere company's continued development of farm equipment. This old "D" restoration is very typical of what is taking place around the country in the last three or four decades within our hobby...... preserving some of these old beasts for the younger ones to see in the future!

I think this is a great photo of an extremely well restored piece of history and for all to see in generations to come......Don't you think?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Birthplace of Harry Ferguson

Hey Ya'll......

We received an e-mail a few weeks back from Trevor Mitchell who lives in Northern Ireland, the birthplace of Harry Ferguson. Trevor sent us a few pictures of the birthplace site which you can see here in this post. I thought that this was very interesting, especially if you are interested in the history of old tractors and in particular the Ferguson tractor.

As you may or may not know, Harry Ferguson was very instrumental in the development of the early tractor and some of the innovations that made these early tractors more efficient and useful.

Trevor lives in Bangor, in Co Down along the shores of Belfast Lough about 30 miles away from Harry's birthplace. You can see a cool looking flower popping Ferguson in the memorial garden directly across the road from Harry's birthplace in the townland of Growell outside Hillsborough in County Down. (South West of Belfast just south of the M1 motorway). Here's a picture of it!

The garden was opened on 21st Aug 2008 and that day his granddaughter Sally Flemming, who had traveled from London, unveiled the life size bronze statue of Harry seen in the picture below.

Note he is carrying in his hand the Ferguson spanner. When the statue and gate were brought together it was discovered the top bar of the gate was the same height as his eyes, so to avoid this, they had him stand on a stone so you could see his face over the top gate bar.

Each year they have a big celebration at the field beside the house when tractors from all around attend. Here are some of the old Fergusons (among others) that were line up at a recent event in the field.

Harry was known not only for tractors and their development, but for a racing car as well. And, he was also the very first person in Ireland to build and pilot his own plane.  The house where Harry was born can be see in the photo here below.

We want to give thanks to Trevor for sharing this all with us and to Ulster-Scot.com for allowing us to use the pictures that Trevor sent to us and provided provided by them.

Enjoy the photos!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Great Time For Antique Tractoring!

Up here in the Indiana north with the leaves turning to their beautiful reds, yellow and orange colors, it gets your personal motor running fast if you're an antique tractor fanatic like me! The cooler air, not as much humidity and the crackling of leaves as you drive your pride and joy over them. Geez, what more could you want? You may or may not get to see these color changes in the south (depending on where you live) but it still gets cooler in the south, doesn't it?

I don't live in the south and don't get much of a chance to be down there in the fall, but I regularly hear from folks who do.  They welcome the changes in seasons just the same.

Fall is one of my favorite times to go tractoring. Shows and events are saved for this special time of the year for a lot of clubs and organizations and it just seems right! The air gets a little heavier and the smoke from the tractors and old hit & miss engines just hangs in the air at these events. A great time to enjoy the sights, activities and food that you find there.

Even without the fall festivals, fall is an absolute great time to take an extended drive into the country if you're so blessed to be still able to do that. It's harvest time on most farms and seeing this in real time is good therapy for the soul! Just looking out over the fields, ripe with their bounty, makes you reflect upon the good ol' USA and the freedom to even do this. Even so, you sometimes get a glimpse of an older tractor or piece of equipment still being used in today's world!

Fall leads to winter though, so if you find yourself anywhere near the snow belt, enjoy these milder, cooler days while you still can. Preferably on or around an old tractor somewhere.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Farmall Dynasty

Last fall, I received and e-mail from Lee Klancher, a friend whom I had met through my regular Antique Tractor Website called "Fastrac." He invited me to review one of his most recently released books entitled "The Farmall Dynasty." Lee mailed me a signed copy of the book (for which I am deeply thankful) so that I could review it. Since I am an avid Antique Tractor enthusiast, I began reading the book. I immediately recognized that, if you were a collector, restorer of International Harvester or Farmall tractors and/or equipment, that this book could be an invaluable addition to your library.

I completed the read shortly after receiving the book but had never actually reported on the experience of what I had found in those pages. My thoughts today are that I had never lived up to my side of the promise I had made to Lee. I had never written a review! My entry today in the blog is a belated attempt to fulfill that promise to him.

The book is loaded with photographs of IH and Farmall tractors and equipment covering the history of the International Harvester company from it's beginning to the present day. While reading though the pages, it became readily apparent to me that there had to have been an extraordinary amount of research conducted  putting this book together. "The Farmall Dynasty" is loaded with Farmall information.

In the book, Lee details the sequences in which different IH tractor models were produced, including dates and production numbers. He also reveals to the reader most of the "whys" behind the introduction of most of these models. I found that there were many things that I did not know and I am a fairly well read antique tractor fanatic!

The book is an absolute "must have" if you are a Farmall nut! You can find out more about the book by visiting Lee's website here.   Lee..........thanks for your books (the one that you gave to me and the ones that all Farmall fans should own!)