Tractors, engines motor in for annual show

Published 11:04 pm Saturday, June 20, 2009

IRONTON — It was like being a kid again, but this time the kid got to play with the big toys.

That was the experience dozens of collectors and enthusiasts felt Friday and Saturday at the 11th annual Lawrence County “Ironmasters” Antique Show. The annual gathering of antique tractors, farm equipment and engines was held at the Ironton Hills Plaza near U.S. 52 and State Route 93.

Don Mootz and Lee Nance organized the event that had been held in downtown Ironton up until three years ago. More than 40 old tractors and about a dozen antique engines were on hand.

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Tractors from Ford, John Deere, Case, Massey-Harris and International Harvester were on display with some tractors even custom-outfitted with train horns and a child’s car seat.

Two highlights of the show was a rare John Deere GP Orchard tractor owned by Daryl Dempsey of Oak Hill and a 1939 Sears Improved Economy Tractor, owned by Bruce Johnson of Proctorville.

What caught the eye of many regarding Johnson’s tractor was the variety of different companies involved in its current state. While the tractor is a Sears model – a model made for only two years – the engine is a 1928-31 Ford Model “A” era engine while the wheelbase is outfitted by John Deere.

A growing hobby, an event like the one held this weekend is one of nearly 1,500 shows held annually throughout the country.

The camaraderie events like Ironton’s allows keeps enthusiasts like Jason Gorby involved.

“What makes these special is they become a get-together and creates friendships with people you first didn’t know when you arrived,” said Gorby who attends around 10 shows a year. “We come to as many as we can.”

Gorby, who was an exhibitor with his son Bryce, said he first got into the reconditioning and selling old tractors with his father five years ago. The Proctorville resident said the search for a prized piece and being able to “tear them apart” and rebuild them never gets old.

While having an interest in tractors, Crown City resident Jim Herber’s forte is antique engines.

Herber, who said he has been restoring antique engines for nearly 20 years, first got involved in the hobby with his uncle. Many of the engines Herber restores are early-to-mid twentieth century engines that were used mostly on farms for grinding corn, water pumps and even for washing machines.

“I really like it. It is something I love to do. It’s a very fun hobby and the best part is the camaraderie that we get out of it.”

Two engines in particular highlight Herber’s collection. The first is a 1916 Jaeger, bore and stroke engine that was used as a cement mixer. Build in Evansville, Ind., the 1.5 horsepower engine ran like a champ on Saturday.

The other is a 1919, three horsepower Matthews engine that Herber was using as the power for a makeshift “air conditioner.” Build in Sandusky, Herber spent the past winter reconditioning the engine that recently took first place out of 130 engines at a recent show.

The Ironton show began Friday night with a pizza party for exhibitors followed by a six-mile tractor drive on area back roads.

Saturday saw a second tractor parade through downtown Ironton followed by a potluck lunch. The event came to a close with its annual kids pedal tractor pull Saturday afternoon.