Harrisburg - Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stopped many owners from bringing their tractors to the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show. While the Equine Arena wasn't overflowing with tractors like previous years, it still featured a broad assortment of vintage and antique farm equipment.
While exhibitors typically arrive before 8 a.m., tractors trickled in throughout the morning. They ranged from eight to 123 horsepower, two-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive, and single wheels and dual wheels.
"Sure, the numbers are down this year," said the exhibition's coordinator Landis Zimmerman. "But guys enjoy coming here and displaying this equipment for an audience that isn't always familiar with it. They do whatever it takes to get here."
The melting snow glistened as it dropped from the tractors parked in the equine arena. Many owners had loaded their tractors the previous night, leaving them snow-covered upon arrival at the Farm Show. One owner decided to forgo a trailer and drove his 1947 Dodge pickup through the slushy roads to get to the show.
In addition to trucks and tractors, several exhibitors brought their stationary gasoline engines. These included "hit-and-miss" engines, given this moniker because they don't need to fire with every revolution. "We considered bringing our corn sheller, too, but the poor weather would be hard on the wood," explained one exhibitor.
While traditional John Deere As and Farmall Ms were in attendance, other tractors stood out in unique ways. Dan and Mabel Stoltzfus of Kinzers, Lancaster County brought their 1936 Allis-Chalmers WC, featuring a finish he agreed "might be better than when it left the factory." He's the third owner - his father, C.B. Stoltzfus, bought the tractor new in 1936 and owned it until 1953, when he sold it to O.S. Stoltzfus, Dan's brother.
"I've spent many a day plowing with that tractor," recalled Stoltzfus. He recently completed a full restoration. While he overhauled the engine himself, he outsourced the body and paintwork. The result is a showroom-quality finish and a glimpse into what a brand-new tractor may have looked like in 1936.
Another unique tractor was a CBT 2105 diesel. While few Americans are familiar with the brand, tractor aficionados would mistake it for an Oliver or Cockshutt. Owner Tim Martin of Chambersburg, Franklin County frequently explained its heritage to passers by. "It uses a 1959 Oliver chassis with 1964 or 1965 Oliver sheetmetal." Yet the tractor sports yellow and white livery and a Mercedes-Benz diesel, and labels and instructions are printed in Portuguese.
"Oliver started building tractors in Brazil. At one point, the Brazilian government kicked them out, but kept producing Oliver tractors." The result was the rebranded Columbia Brazilian Tractor Company's CBT 2105 - 2-wheel-drive, 105 horsepower. This tractor was imported to the United States. Martin purchased it in 2007.
Landis Zimmerman exhibited a rare high-clearance Oliver Cletrac HG crawler. This model features more than three feet of ground clearance and was designed for working in fields with tall crops.
Another Oliver, a 4-wheel drive, dual-wheeled 2655 with a cab, was a landmark in the arena, towering above other older tractors.
Not all tractors were original, restored or simply refurbished - some were modified "pulling tractors," similar to hot rods. Much in the way muscle cars compete in drag races, tractors compete in tractor pulls. Many of the tractors on display stayed after the exhibition's conclusion to compete in the evening's tractor pulls.
In celebration of Family Day at the Farm Show, the Waterloo Boys Two-Cylinder Club hosted a pedal-tractor pull for children 35-100 pounds alongside the tractor display.
No matter in what form, original, modified, gas, diesel or even foot-powered, these tractors afforded an opportunity for Farm Show visitors to examine some of the tools that broke ground and provided the food, fuel and fiber that has strengthened and preserved America.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 209 commercial exhibitors. The show runs Jan. 8-15 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $10. Visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us for details.
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For photos of the contest, visit here.