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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jul 1, 2011

Last week the Red Power Roundup was holding a three-day event only 30 miles away. Anything built by International Harvester was going to be displayed, waiting for admiring looks from tractor nuts in general and IH fans in particular.

After too many days of cool overcast weather, last Friday morning was the day we were all waiting for.

The sky was blue, the fluffy clouds were white, and it was time to admire the sea of red.

I had the morning to take in as much as I could of IH manufactured tractors, implements, trucks and anything else.

I was so excited I forgot to check the state of the charge of the battery in my camera.

Fortunately, it was enough to get me through the morning.

So, there I was with my IH soul brothers, most of us wearing something that told of our fondness for International Harvester.

I was subtle, wearing a gray cap that had a 1066 embroidered on it, a cap given to me by a dealer.

All there was left to do was go up and down each row examining each piece carefully. To someone who is not a tractor fan, it would be easy to say, “They all look alike.” Maybe to you, but not to me.

My wife knits and her family are all baseball fans.

I believe her balls of yarn all look alike (they do have different colors) and her family’s baseball games have become repetitive.

But a tractor show, now that is different. By now, you can tell I was by myself and that was fine with me.

What did I see? Well, everyone looks at something because it reminds them of something important, be it farm equipment, yarn or ball games.

Usually the important thing is that the past, could be the present and occasionally the future.

Obviously, in this case of the company formerly known as IH, it was the past.

I was looking at tractors that were part of my memories and they were there. I was surprised to not see a single Farmall 826 there.

We have an 826 parked in a shed on our farm. It is the model with the hydrostatic transmission.

It is in need of work and not suitable for display without spending some money (probably a lot) on it, making it one of those “someday” jobs.

I can not say the 86 series of tractors were that well represented either.

We also have a 186, which is the hydrostatic version of the 986 for those of you keeping score at home.

There was one tractor I was looking for and I found it after looking through three-fourths of the show.

It was a Farmall 350 diesel, a tractor bought new by my uncles in 1957.

When it left our farm for its new owner, it was badly in need of care.

About all you can say is that the engine was not stuck and the torque amplifier worked. After that, it was a matter of money.

I knew the condition of the tractor because about 25 years ago, I used it for a while to feed cattle.

But there were too many oil leaks and we had other tractors that were better suited for the job; so it was parked.

Around 10 years ago, it was sold to a local mechanic who overhauled the engine, put on tires and got it running.

Then it was sold to a neighboring farmer who is an IH fan of the first order.

He finished the restoration by breaking the engine in and painting it to look at least as good as it was when new and probably better.

Looking at it on display at the show, I saw it had acquired fenders and it was truly a handsome piece. It will be pampered and shedded for years to come.

This would be a good time to say thanks to all those people who have pulled old rusty farm equipment of all colors out of groves and scrap yards, then spent the time and money to repair, paint, haul and display them at shows for people like me; who always appreciate the idea that whatever it was, when it was sold, “went to a good home.”

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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