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Florida Flywheelers was an oasis for Farmall iron
Wrenching Tales
Around December, when the snow was flying, International Harvester Collectors were planning their trip to Fort Meade, Fla., to attend the International Harvester Winter Convention. This mid-winter event, Feb. 20-23, was planned in conjunction with the Florida Flywheelers’ 21st annual Antique Engine and Tractor Show.
Snowbird collectors travel south for the show and stay until spring. The Flywheelers is a mecca for old-iron enthusiasts from the East Coast. Rather than hearing a Southern drawl, visitors are more likely to hear a New Jersey twang.

While the show had its usual draws, like the building filled with beautiful Cushman scooters and the big Snow engine, flea market and, of course, the Village, this year the IH Collectors Club had its winter convention at the Flywheelers’ show grounds.

This turned out to be a perfect spot because in the Village there are already a couple of IH dealership-like buildings where events were held, and collectors meandered in and out for the extensive IH collections within. In one building, a Cub workshop was going on and collectors were learning the ins and outs of the sturdy Farmall-red machines.

On one corner of the grounds the featured International tractors were in a display all their own. The collection, although not huge, offered a variety of IH tractors. One of the collectors who brought their Farmall tractor to display at this year’s show was Henry Williams, from Pelican, S.C. Henry brought his 1941 H, which is just like the one his grandfather had.

“My uncle taught me to drive on the H, and he was an IH dealer in Coxsackie, New York,” he explained.

When Henry had a chance to buy a 1941 H just like the one he’d known, it was a perfect fit. He grew up in New York until he entered the Army at 18: “I stayed in for 21 years. I was going to farm, but everything changed.”

He missed the farm. “A friend from Virginia found it,” Henry said about his IH tractor. “My friend had a dealership in Hemingway, South Carolina; it was an Allis-Chalmers dealership. While he doesn’t have it anymore, now he restores old tractors.”

Since the friend had a good working knowledge of old iron, he went to check the H out for Henry and found it was a nice tractor that was mostly restored. The tractor belonged to a gentleman named Jim McConnell. Along with the H, Henry obtained a mower, as well. It is a model 110 IH with a 7-foot sickle bar.

Once Henry got to working on the tractor, he said it didn’t need much. “I just put on a spot of paint and polished it up,” he added.
One interesting aspect is the H’s NASCAR connection. When the Williamses bought the tractor, the owner’s wife told Henry’s wife, Alberta, that Rusty Wallace’s dad owned the tractor. Henry admits he has no way to prove the story, but he and Alberta enjoy the Farmall H’s supposed connection to racing.

A rather rare specimen that came to the United States all the way from Argentina was Bill Reed’s 1954 Super MDTAV. “This is a diesel TAV,” he explained.

Bill heard about this tractor from a friend at Bates Equipment when he was getting parts. He hails from Beallsville, Ohio, and lives about 6-7 hours from where the tractor was located at Pope’s Auction in New Paris, Ind. The tractor didn’t meet the owners’ bid, so it was still available.

Bill drove to the auction site and looked it over. Liking what he saw, he purchased it. The tractor had a complete framework and only 24,000 hours when he bought it, but the IH beauty needed a lot of work. “Everything on it was worn clear out,” he said.

Much of the restoration work was done by Bill’s friend Brent Marty, who is an admitted John Deere enthusiast. The hi-crop needed a bit of TLC and a lot of love. “Everything that moved was wore out, even the crank. It was hard to start,” Brent said.

After the restoration, they still had a few kinks to work out, but the tractor now runs like a top. Bill said while they did the mechanical portion of the restoration, he credited Rick Fowkes with the paint job that was just completed two days before this event.

Farmall red collectors had a chance to parade their tractors every day and visitors were able to meet many IH chapters from all over the U.S. Chapter 27 was the host for this great show.

The next big red event is the upcoming 24th Red Power Round Up, which will be June 19-22 in Lima, Ohio. It will be at the Allen County Fairgrounds and is featuring Hydros and Travelalls. For more information visit www.rpru2013.com

Readers with questions or comments for Cindy Ladage may write to her in care of this publication.
4/17/2013