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Antique tractor show continues Sunday, aims to keep farm history alive by Saratogian

Antique tractor show continues Sunday, aims to keep farm history alive by Saratogian

GREENWICH — More than 100 years of farm history is on display at the Tri-State Antique Tractor Club show that continues today at Washington County Fairground.


A 1908 thresher, old-time hay press and numerous early 20th-century gas engines are also in good running order for people to see how they work.


Today’s activity, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., includes a tractor-pulling competition, machinery demonstrations and an equipment auction followed by a tractor parade.


The club’s purpose is to educate people about our heritage,” said President Jared Thomas from Thomas Poultry Farm in Bacon Hill.



The group will also be represented at the Washington County Fair in August, but this weekend’s show lets visitors focus strictly on antique tractors and related equipment.


This event is our identity,” Thomas said, “so the public knows what we’re all about.”


John Deyoe, 68, of Saratoga owns a handful of Massey-Harris tractors from the 1950s. He remembers the first tractor job his uncle gave him on an old 2N Ford, when he was 11 years old, on a cold November afternoon.


I got home after dark, and at 7 mph it was a long ride home,” he recalled.


Deyoe spent 2-1/2 years restoring a bright red 1956 Massey-Harris Pacer. Behind it, he’s attached an antique manure spreader with a big sign: “Politician Limo.”


I put it in the Galway Memorial Day Parade,” he said, laughing. “Everybody thought it was the greatest thing.”


The club’s prize possession is the old threshing machine, which members restored in Deyoe’s farm shop. It was made by S.K. Campbell Co. in Central Bridge.


Some of these pieces have got some serious money in them, just like people restore old cars,” Deyoe said.


The thresher is in perfect condition. Crops such as wheat, oats or barley are fed into the machine, which separates grain from the straw. John’s brother, Jim, used a pitch-fork to lift straw into the old hay press while others bagged the grain.


Both the thresher and hay press are run by long belts attached to antique tractors, including a 1944 McCormick W4 owned by Ed Zuzick of Stillwater.


My grandfather always had a McCormick. I’ve got a couple dozen of them. It keeps me young,” the 83-year-old said, smiling. “I got this one at an auction in Sharon Springs. It came from Canada.”


One of the show’s most impressive machines is a 5,000-pound propane-fueled engine made in 1903. Owned by Dave Lambert of Porter Corners, he calls it “The Dragon,” an appropriate nickname because of its huge size and constant hissing sound.


This would drive pumps for oil wells in Ohio,” he said. “I bought it on the Internet. I had to fix the valves, put in all new gaskets and attach a water tank. It does start by hand, but I added a 7 hp Honda engine to start it. I started out with small engines. The big ones run so nice, it’s just something I wanted.”


Doran Gast of Stillwater, an Iowa native, explained how small gas engines saved early 20th-century farmers labor before rural electrification.


In the real old days a windmill would pump water, but if you didn’t have any wind you were out of luck,” he said. “The cows and hogs still needed water. A small, portable engine could be put next to the pump, driven by a belt between the engine and pump jack.”


Small engines were used to run all kinds of equipment — a feed grinder, grindstone used for sharpening tools, even early washing machines.


The club’s newest member, John Wojtowicz, 17, of Clifton Park, recently bought a 1947 Case tractor and has two Farmalls. “It’s just a hobby I guess,” he said. “I’ve always loved them.”


We’ve got a great cross-section of members,” Thomas said.

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