|By ANN ALLEN
WALTON, Ind. — Members of the Tip Wa Antique Tractor and Engine Club of Walton gathered the weekend following Thanksgiving to plow 100 acres of corn and bean stubble on three farms south of Walton.
Watching the men get their equipment ready, a woman observed with a broad grin, “These guys are just chomping at the bit to get going.”
Some were old hands at plowing; others were newcomers. But once they got going, they laid out lands and plowed while their wives sat on the sidelines reflecting that the only thing that separates men from boys is the price of their toys.
It was difficult to determine the price of the 26 tractors that turned out for Saturday’s event since they ranged in size from Allen McCloskey’s scale model John Deere D to Richard Norman’s lumbering Massey-Ferguson, with John Deere, Farmall and other makes thrown in for good measure.
McCloskey, a gravedigger for 54 years, made his scale model tractor from “a little bit of everything.”
“It has parts from combines, a few scraps from John Deere tractors and bits and pieces of everything from a Volkswagen to a Cadillac,” he said.
A collector since the late 1950s and early 1960s, McCloskey has many old tractors stored in barns and outbuildings. His enthusiasm for vintage tractors was so contagious that his son, Dean, recently built a new pole building to augment the barns that house his own collection.
Allen’s brother, Danny, joined in the collecting fervor by locating a McCormick-Deering W-12 in a junkyard.
“It was nothing but pieces and parts,” his wife Christy said as she watched her husband pull a 16-foot single bottom plow. Both she and her husband agreed that would have been a slow way to till the soil.
Larry Weaver and Laddie Shuman, owners of two of the fields being plowed, were on hand as observers.
“They couldn’t have had a better day for this,” Shuman observed.
Although he quit farming in 1983, he still knows every inch of his land.
“We always put flags up where we hit rocks,” he said. “After we were done, we’d go back and pick up the stones. These boys shouldn’t have any problem today - the soil is perfect for plowing.”
The “plow day” was one of several scheduled events the club participates in each year.
“We’re just a bunch of guys who get together because of a common interest in old tractors,” said Dean McCloskey, organizer of the day’s events. Some members call him the president, a title he shuns.
“I just organize events,” he said. “We don’t have any officers.”
A mechanic by profession, he had never plowed until last year’s plow day. This year, he brought an English-built Nuffield model 10/60 from his collection and used both a restored John Deere plow and one built by Oliver.
Earlier this year, 40 members had a tractor drive around the Pipe Creek Falls area, a scenic, 16-mile route in southeastern Cass and western Miami counties. In addition, the club annually hosts a show around the Fourth of July that draws as many as 140 big tractors, garden tractors and gas engines. In 2007, because the Fourth falls midweek, the show will be July 6-8.
The club formed four years ago after Glenn Adair, owner of a local welding shop, put an advertisement in a newspaper and posted flyers to see if anyone was interested in old tractors. Dean McCloskey saw the notices and quickly joined.
“That first meeting, we all sat around and talked tractors,” he said. “Glenn told us he didn’t like to see old tractors sitting out in the weather. He was especially concerned about a Rumely Oil Pull gathering rust. I didn’t say anything, but I knew who owned the tractor - my dad. That was the motivation we needed to get it restored.”
The organization has grown steadily since and now boasts 50 members.
“That’s pretty good for no older than the club is,” Dean McCloskey said. “We meet the second Tuesday of every month in a welding shop to talk tractors and share advice.”
The club always welcomes new members. In fact, it gained a few after last Saturday’s event was continued into Sunday.
Additional information is available from Dean McCloskey, 8224 S. 1000 East, Galveston, IN 46932, or by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 574-626-3454.
This farm news was published in the Nov. 29, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.