By Cindy Ladage
Everyone needs a go-to guy or gal when it comes time to working on equipment or research. For me, when trying to learn about history, I look to a lot of resources. During the pandemic, we had to resort to tractor manuals, online videos and the ever-helpful YouTube videos. It just wasn’t always possible to connect with personal contacts, but there is nothing like the personal contact with that helpful someone to get right to the heart of the matter when trying to learn what you need to know.
For me, when trying to learn about history in the Galesburg/ Mendota and Freeport area, I turn to historian Rex Cherrington, who is a wonderful source of information about agricultural companies in the surrounding areas. I can learn more from Rex in a 10-minute conversation that in an hour on the computer. I also call on auctioneer Kurt Aumann to learn about trends in agricultural equipment, and editor Chad Elmore as a resource for technical and historical information. When it comes to mechanical and engineering questions about equipment, I look to Kent Jansen, of Jansen Brothers Garage in Sigel, Ill., or friend Mark Dozier. I also often call my brother-in-law Wayne Ladage, especially if the subject involves pulling tractors.
My husband Keith has an array of experts he looks to when working on equipment out in the shop. For him, it depends on the area of information he is seeking that determines who he turns to. He calls on a mechanic at Sloan’s Implement often by the name of Leonard Helmrichs, who is a two-cylinder expert. Keith also depends on Don Dixon – who they call Napa Don – from the Auburn, Ill., Napa store for help with parts, and about which is the best part to use and knowledge about its availability.
Don said that he has been operating the Auburn Napa store since 1986. “I was in the military service (the Army) before that.”
This is not the first time that Don has been singled out as the subject of a story. “Dave Baake that wrote for the Springfield State Journal Register wrote about me,” Don said. “I was Kind Dad in 2010 at the University of Illinois.”
Two of his daughters attended the time and one had written a winning essay about her father that caught Baake’s attention. Don said helping people is what he does, and what he likes to do. Don and others like him make a huge difference in collectors’ lives.
There are so many different places to turn. Expertise is hard to come by and it is important to take advantage of information when it is available. Aumann Auctions is offering a tractor school for customers to learn more about some of the older tractors. That is one opportunity for tractor guys and gals to immerse themselves for a day or two and gain knowledge of the antique tractors and learn how to care for the older machines.
Events like the winter conventions also offer workshops where experts provide topics with details on how to take care of tractors and offer history and research topics. These conferences and conventions and the summer get-togethers give collectors a chance to not only socialize, but add much needed knowledge to be able to take care of their valuable antique tractors, literature and memorabilia.
Sometimes the expert is not a collector at all, but an expert in a field like literature preservation. Keith has turned to a local bookstore owner John Paul several times to talk to him about how to preserve his literature and keep it safe and protect it in storage. When it comes to restoration, the local paint dealer is an important reference for the correct paint and primer. A body man can help with ensuring that work on a tractor or toy is done properly.
Librarians can provide immeasurable assistance when it comes to finding pictures and trying to locate that historical information you require to get to the bottom of that burning question you need to know.
So, who is it for you that is your go to guy or gal? Who helps you when you are in a clinch and has helped you over the hump when you couldn’t get the answer you needed? Make sure to say thank you to him or her because for a long time, we were without access to the assistance we needed, and today, we can see the people we need and can be thankful for that.