Chilton Antique Tractor Show and Well, It’s Been Busy…

… here over the last few weeks. I’m not sure what the heck happened after I retired. I was supposed to have all this free time to play with amateur radio, do gardening, dabble more in photography, go fishing, etc. Instead it seems I have less time than when I was working full time. Oh, well.

We did go up north last weekend to visit some friends, although we did run across this —

We came across the rolled over milk tanker about 10 miles from the house. Fortunately no one got seriously hurt. I think he was empty because there was no leakage when we came across the scene just after it happened. It was on a roundabout, and this happens on a regular basis with these big trucks. They hit the roundabout too fast and flip over trying to make the corner.

The annual Chilton steam engine and antique tractor show was this weekend and that’s something I try to get to every year even though it makes me feel so old sometimes to see equipment that I used to run when I was a kid or teenager now classified as “antique”. Although to be fair a lot of the equipment we had on the farm back then was probably already antique by the time we got our hands on it.

This year the big surprise was this —

Now if you’ve never seen anything like that before, it’s for a good reason. They never made many of these, and there are only three of them left in the world from what I learned talking to the guy who was operating it. When I first saw it, it was largely blocked from sight and all I could see was part of the front with the engines and I thought someone had lugged a Shay type locomotive to the show.

Yes, it’s fully operational. This isn’t just a static display, it actually runs.

What the hell is it? It’s a log hauler that was used up until the 1930s to pull huge sleds carrying logs through the woods during the winter. Only about 175 of them were ever built. It could pull up to 300 tons of logs on as many as 25 sleds at a time. I ran across this when I was looking up more info on it-

I can’t even begin to imagine what it must cost to keep that engine repaired and operational. It must be incredibly expensive. I’m very glad they do, though. If it weren’t for people who support the preservation of equipment like this all we’d have are photos. They show it at Wabeno, where its home is, but they also take it out to at least one of these shows a year.

As I said, sometimes it makes me feel very old when I go to these and run across equipment I used to use, like this Massey 44. I used one of these when I was a kid. For a long time it was our primary tractor that did everything from hauling out manure to chopping feed to plowing. And while it may look pretty and make me feel nostalgic, when it comes down to it it was a nasty, nasty tractor to actually use. The front end was too light. Those front wheels would be entirely off the ground as often as not when it was pulling a heavy load. It was difficult to steer. It had mechanical issues. The engine was decent, but ours tended to overheat and the transmission wasn’t very good. And it sucked gas like you wouldn’t believe.

What I like about these shows too is that it gives us a glimpse into what life was like for our not so distant ancestors. Just the simple job of washing clothing was a major operation not that long ago.

Yes, that’s a washing machine being powered by an ancient gasoline engine. And while that engine might be a bit elderly for this setup, washing machines running off gasoline engines was not uncommon in rural areas. You have to remember that a lot of rural areas didn’t get electric service until the 1930s or even later.

On the amateur radio front, I’ve been fiddling with antennas again. Well, sort of. I’m finally getting around to getting the Gap Titan vertical finished and hooked up.

It successfully survived the winds we had during the recent storms. After 60 – 70 MPH winds hit us during those storms I more than half expected to see it laying on the ground when I got up the next morning, but it made it through unscathed. We almost forgot to put guy lines on the thing. If we’d neglected that I’m sure it would have come down.

I got the counterpoise/ground plane installed finally and, well, it takes up a wee bit bigger area than I thought it would. Going to be fun mowing lawn through there. But that area is going to be part of an extension to the existing flower beds anyway so I only have to worry about it for the rest of this season.

And I still don’t have the dopey thing connected. I got started, got all the tools out and began to work on putting the connectors on the coax and… Sigh…

I had the wrong one. I needed a female and only had the male variety, so I either needed a female or an adaptor. Not a big deal, but mildly annoying nevertheless. In any case, I didn’t really like the style connector they sent with the antenna in the first place. Thankfully, Farm and Home, the big hardware store down in Chilton has a big electronics section (used to be a Radio Shack store) and they’ll probably have what I need.

As for the weather – this has been one of the wettest summers I can remember. The lawns should all be brown and dormant from a lack of rain this time of year. Instead they’re all lush and green, as you can see from the photo there. I’ve only had to water the gardens about three or four times all summer long so far. Most summers watering is something we need to do every two days or so.

The rivers and lakes are all abnormally high around here because of all the rainfall.

This is the river down by the old stone bridge the other day. Normally this time of year the river is so low and stagnant that it’s choked with algae and weeds, and so shallow it would hardly be halfway up your shins if you tried to walk through it. It’s a good four feet deep or more, though, and had more than enough current to keep the algae from accumulating.

That’s about it for now. Hopefully by the next time I get around to writing something I’ll have some amateur radio stuff to talk about. I should have that antenna finally set up. I should have the new Yaesu 818ND up and running with the laptop using FT8, JS8Call and PSK.

And hopefully I’ll have made some progress in moving all my equipment down into the basement. MrsGF found a matching set of old, heavy duty tables at St. Vinnie’s that might make good work benches. They’re about 4′ square with heavy duty 4″ square legs. They’re beat up but look solid, and I can get ’em for $5 each, so I’ll go take a look at those on Tuesday.

Still have to make a decision on where the electrical outlets are going to be placed down there, but I didn’t want to do that until I had an idea on where the work benches were going to be, how tall they were, etc. Probably at least 4, four outlet boxes fed with 20 amp circuits, plus at least one 240V outlet for amplifiers. And need to rewire for better lighting. Want to put in LED lights to replace the existing fluorescent tubes that are in there now.

Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer.

4 thoughts on “Chilton Antique Tractor Show and Well, It’s Been Busy…”

  1. I’m a little behind on my blog-reading,. This was a great article, and I love the photos. I took my dad to a steam tractor show in Sycamore, Illinois a few weeks ago. It’s a great time! They even had a real working steam shovel!

    The “ancient engine” connected to the washing machine in your photo is known as a “hit and miss” engine. They were very common from the 1920’s up to the 1940s and they are popular at these shows. My dad and I co-own a 1930s vintage John Deere 1.5 HP hit and miss we restored ourselves. We also have a 2 cycle Maytag engine that was designed specifically to run a washing machine. Lastly, my dad has a 1920 Ford Model T that is in A+ running condition. I’m not a co owner on the car but I do know how to drive it and help my dad keep it running when I get over there. At the Sycamore show they had a Model T fire truck that I’d give up a part of my reproductive anatomy to get. Some old codger owns it. He drives it only for the show and will not even talk about selling. You know the type. I’m sure there are a lot of people in line ahead of me to get their grubby little hands on it anyway.

    My dad knows of a 1952 John Deere tractor that the owner is willing to sell, but I don’t have room for it at my house and my mom vetoed my dad keeping it at their house. She already rags on him about the Model T and the engines and all his other stuff. For my part, I still have amateur radio equipment stored at my parents’ place and I haven’t lived at home in 25 years! Maybe we are pushing our luck with mom’s patience.

    Ahhh, but we can dream….


    1. I love that old equipment šŸ™‚ Although it puts me in an odd mood when I see a lot of equipment I used to work with when I was a kid and teenager now considered to be “antique” – Sigh

      My oldest son has an Oliver 77 tractor, circa about 1950 – 1955, I think, that he’s restoring. While I admire the equipment and the people who work to preserve it, I wouldn’t have the patience to do it myself. And I have more hobbies now than I know what to do with – building furniture, amateur radio, computers, a way too fast sports car that loves to eat tires, gardening, photography, collecting old time radio shows from the 30s and 40s (at least those don’t take up any space, they’re all in digital format). I was going to get back into hunting and fishing. I’ve gotten a line wet exactly once this year and my bow hasn’t been out of its case in something like three years. Oh, well.

      Speaking of ham radio, I was fooling around with FT8 and the new Gap Titan-DX vertical, did a CQ with about 25 watts and got a response back immediately from a club station in Germany. Damn that antenna works good! I don’t know if it’s just that new antenna or if propagation is improving. Yesterday I was fiddling with FT8 and brought up PSK Reporter and I was covering almost the entire continental US, large parts of Canada, Alaska, Japan, most of western Europe and even one station in southern Chile. I really have to find the time to get the 818 going with FT8. I’m curious to see how FT8 will work with that magloop antenna at 5 watts or less.


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