History on display at fair tractor show

This 1947 Oliver 70 is owned by Dale Hilliard of Sarver. He said his father bought the tractor in 1947 and it has been in his family ever since. (By Randy Bartley)

The first modern tractors rolled onto the farm in the 1920s, and some of those very same tractors rolled into the Clarion County Fairgrounds on Friday.

Jay Ferringer of Hawthorn organized the antique tractor show at the Clarion County Fair.

“We always have a variety of tractors here. We have had as many as 100 here before,” Ferringer said. “There are some really rare garden tractors.”

Ferringer has been involved with rebuilding a few old tractors.

“It can take years to track down the parts they need,” he said. “These guys have to hunt high and low for parts. Once they get them done, they like to show them off. They like to tell the stories about them.”

Don Altman, of South Bend in Armstrong County, said “That’s what collecting these tractors is all about. They need to be out where people can see them.”

Altman was showing a 1928 Farmall Regular.

“I have 10 of these,” said Altman. “They made these from 1924 through 1932. I have every year but the first two. When these tractors were designed there wasn’t any number because this was all there was. After they started putting numerics on them these became known as regulars.”

Altman got into collecting tractors almost by accident.

“We were coming home from my daughter’s house in New Castle and I saw a Farmall H sitting alongside of the road.” he said. “It was really pretty in the setting sun so I bought it. Then I bought some books to read and didn’t know there were so many early tractors. After that I started looking for early tractors and I was hooked,” he added.

The 1928 Regular presented a challenge.

“When I got this one it was rusted and in terrible shape,” he said. “I had to put a different motor in it, a new starter and radiator. This one is set up to pull not for show.”

Getting original parts is a challenge as there haven’t been new parts for the ’28 in almost a century.

“Parts are always a problem,” said Altman. “I have a friend in Iowa and I get some parts from him. Another friend has a business in Indiana and he buys and sells parts. Some times when you go to the bigger shows you find people selling parts. There is kind of a network among collectors and we help each other out.”

Ethan Rowe of Fairmount City was exhibiting his 1951 Allis Chalmers WD for the first time Friday at the fair.

“I found it on the internet in Smethport and bought it in the fall of 2019,” Rowe said. “We had always run Allis Chalmers on our farm.”

Rowe said the tractor wasn’t “terrible” when he got it. But it still needed a paint job because the old paint was brushed on.

“I put a lot of hours into sanding it and grinding it,” he said. “The fenders were rotten so I needed fenders. These have spin out wheels and they were seized so I had break them loose and got them working like they should. It also needed a new radiator,” Rowe added.

Rowe went online to find many of the parts he needed.

“They are reproduction parts but they try to get as close to the original as possible. It took about eight months to get it to this point,” said Rowe, who is a trooper with Clarion state police. “I would work on it whenever I got home from work.”

Ferringer was also in charge of the antique tractor pull Friday night.

“These are tough old tractors and the guys like to see what they can do,” he said.