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Albert City shows Iowa’s Pride

By Staff | Aug 26, 2016

EILEEN RUBLE never thought of herself going out and buying tractors before her husband, Jerred, in the background, became interested in it. She owns this 1919 General Ordinance tractor, which was manufactured in Cedar Rapids, and brought it to the Albert City Threshermen and Collector’s Show as part of the Pride of Iowa feature.

ALBERT CITY – Those attending this year’s Albert City Threshermen and Collector’s Show were treated not only to one color of tractor in their feature tractor area, but to many, as organizers featured all tractors that were made in Iowa “back in the day.”

Jerred and Eileen Ruble, of Hanlontown, contributed to the talk of the day, bringing a pair of rare tractors – Jerred Ruble’s 1921 1921 Heider, made in Carroll; and Eileen Ruble’s 1919 General Ordinance tractor manufactured in Cedar Rapids.

Jerred Ruble said the Heider Co. had its beginnings in Carroll in the early 1900s. Its “claim to fame” was friction drive on their tractors, which, he said, it perfected.

“It was important because it was simple,” said Ruble. “It has two disks and if you move one disk to the one side the tractor will go forward and if you move the other disk to the other side it will go backwards.”

“So there was only one lever to change the gears from forward to backward. Neutral was in the middle.”

THE FIRST TIME Connie Purchase saw an American Cream draft horse in person, she said, “It was all over,” saying it was the most beautiful horse she had ever seen. The breed, which had its roots in Iowa, is considered to be critically endangered. Here, she “shows them the love.”

Ruble said the tractor could also be taken out of traction mode and used on the belt, moving the belt pulley in either direction for forward and backward.

He added the friction drive was attractive to farmers, but over time it began to slip, leading to its eventual downfall.

Ruble’s tractor at the show was one made solely for cultivating row crops such as corn or soybeans. The cultivator is intact on the back of the tractor.

“Everything is hand-lift,” he said. “You had to hand lift the cultivator and you could maneuver it with your feet to keep it on the row even if the tractor got off a little bit.”

“There was a lot involved in keeping the cultivator straight on the row-you had to steer it, then you had to be watching the cultivator to make sure you weren’t taking anything out.”

JERRED RUBLE owns this 1921 Heider tractor, whose company had its beginnings in Carroll. He said the tractor was made specifically for cultivating, which is part of the rarity of the tractor. Here he shows what the back of the tractor looks like, including the cultivator shanks that are attached to the tractor.

Ruble added that it was still better than using horses because it took two or three horses to run such a cultivator, whereas it only took the one tractor, and it could run all day.

“They claim (as per company marketing materials) that you could cultivate between three and five acres a day with this tractor,” said Ruble.

His Heider (a 5-10) is a steel-wheel tractor with small lugs and features a four-cylinder LeRoy engine, up to 10 horsepower on the belt (five horsepower on the drawbar); roller-chain drive, and a differential along with brakes for each side.

“That was another innovation-separate brakes would let you turn shorter,” he said.

He added the tractor, which he takes to a few shows each year, is worth between $30,000 and $40,000 due to its rarity.

“It’s a small cultivating tractor and there are very few of them left,” he said.

Ruble collects tractors to help preserve history.

Eileen Ruble purchased her 1919 General Ordinance tractor from a friend in Canandaigua, New York. She said the tractor’s rarity comes in part because it was made from “leftover parts from World War I.”

The tractor is believed to be one of only three that are still around the U.S., and Jerred Ruble said there are maybe only six left in the world.

The art work on the tractor is something that fascinates the Rubles.

“They had artists painting on the tractors – it was all done free hand,” Jerred Ruble said. “It wasn’t done by computers.”

The tractor features a Waukesha engine with a speed of 1,000 rpm and weighs about 4,200 pounds. It boasts 14 to 28 horsepower and questionable brakes.

“You have to be thinking ahead and driving very defensively in a crowd,” said Ruble.

The tractor sold for $1,485 brand new in 1919.

Eileen Ruble also owns a 3060 Hart Parr which was manufactured in Charles City, along with other tractors she owns with her husband.

“His love of tractors got me interested in buying them,” she said, adding that they stay busy going to shows where they can take their tractors and other vintage farm machinery.

American Creams

Part of the Pride of Iowa display in Albert City was a pair of American Cream draft horses, owned by Connie Purchase, of Milford.

She said they are the only breed of draft horse native to the U.S., starting in Iowa around 1900 with a mare named Old Granny.

The American Cream draft horses are slightly smaller in nature than most draft horses and are cream-colored, with a white mane and tail, pink skin and amber eyes.

Mares grow to about 16 hands high and 1,600 pounds, with stallions growing to about 1,900 pounds.

Purchase said she has enjoyed horses all of her life and wanted to find a horse to mate with hers that was of the same or similar breed.

She struggled to find one to match, and when she investigated her options further she saw an article about the American Creams and made an appointment to see one personally.

“It was all over,” she said. “I thought it was the most beautiful horse I’d ever seen.”

She bought two of the horses in eastern Iowa later on and she continued to purchase more of them as the years went on. Today she owns 11 of the draft horses and was expecting another to be born during the Threshermen’s show.

Purchase said American Cream draft horse numbers in the world are low – only about 500, which is considered a critically endangered breed.

She looks around the nation to find other American Cream draft horses with which to breed her horses, and said she feels fortunate that the ones she uses are within reasonable driving distance from home.

She stays in touch with the people at the American Cream Draft Horse Association to ensure her ability to have her horses bred by other American Creams, and said the people at the association and others involved with it have become her family.

Purchase had two of her horses on a team to be part of the world record draft horse plowing event during this year’s show.

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