Let’s Talk Rusty Iron: Readers share their tractor towing experiences

The column a few weeks ago brought several responses about the fun experiences folks have had while towing or being towed on tractors. Here are two (somewhat edited for space) that I enjoyed.

Ernest Jones from Diamond, Ohio, wrote:

“The year was 1946 and I was a junior in high school, so we can establish at the outset that I am now an official old codger. In the spring of ’46 my father was recovering from hernia surgery, and since we were still farming with horses, his doctor took a dim view of his plans to plow the oats ground.

A good friend from near Homeworth came to our farm in Milton Township one day, bringing an Allis-Chalmers tractor with its single bottom plow. My father and our horses were very grateful for the friend’s loan and Dad proceeded to plow the acreage.

“When it became time to return the tractor from our farm at Route 534 and Palmyra Road, the method selected was to tow it behind the family’s car — a ’37 Plymouth. I got to ride the tractor and away we went, using a tow chain that probably should have been longer. But things went well as we went south on Route 534 through Berlin Center. But soon we crossed Route 14 and then 165, and that’s where the trouble began.

Catching up

“As you probably know, there’s a pretty steep hill at that point heading toward Damascus, and soon the tractor was going faster than the car. The tractor had only hand-operated individual wheel brakes. Steering with my left hand, I pulled the right brake and the tractor kicked to the right until the chain came tight and yanked us back toward the car.

“And then it would all start again, except at a faster pace as the old Plymouth rolled down the hill and my father enjoyed the passing countryside. I can’t recall how many of these episodes occurred, but we were at the bottom of the hill before Dad finally realized that all was not well back there.

“My wife and I still live on part of the farm, and each time we drive south towards Damascus, there’s a little bit of fear grabs me as we head down that hill.

“So that’s my story. The next year Dad got his first tractor, and since then I’ve happily spent a lot of time on various tractors, but it was my first experience that I remember most.”

Thanks for the story, Ernest. But didn’t you ever hear of steering with your teeth so you could have a hand on each brake? Just joking! By the way — in the spring of ’46 I was in the eighth grade, so I’m not far behind you in the old codger ranks.

Next story

The other story came from Dave Cover in Cortland, Ohio, and is a bit unusual.

“I have a tractor story that happened in the early 1950s. My grandparents had a very primitive farm in southern Ashtabula County and didn’t get electricity until 1949. They wired the house and barn, but there was no inside plumbing. Grandpa’s brother on a neighboring farm put in a bathroom and had no further need for his fairly good outhouse.

“The plan called for my Dad to back his flatbed dump truck up to the privy with the bed up, chain it to the bed, let the bed down, haul it to Grandpa’s place and reverse the process over the hole where the old privy had been.

“So far, so good. The trouble came when we tried to remove Grandpa’s old privy. It sat next to a fence on quite a knoll. That meant that when we tried to tip it over, we were pulling downhill. I was on the 1939 Farmall H.

“Imagine my surprise when instead of stopping on its side, the old privy kept rolling and gaining on the tractor. I set the brakes and leaped over the rear wheel a split second before the old privy crashed onto the tractor.

Comical sight

“I remember my mother and grandmother having a good laugh at our expense as my dad, grandpa and I pried the old outhouse off the tractor with an iron bar and two fence posts.

“I tell folks now that cabs on tractors are nothing new — we had one for a short while, years before they were generally popular.”

Dave concludes with an invitation to visit the Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club grounds on U.S. Route 322, east of Wayne, Ohio.

He says, “Our farm museum is full after just a few short years in operation. Our latest project is the rebuilding of a local Civil War era one room school on the grounds.”

Thanks, Dave, good story. I guess you would have been grateful for even hand brakes on that old outhouse.

(Send suggestions, comments or questions to Sam Moore in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460-0038; or via e-mail to: editorial@farmanddairy.com.)

About the Author

Sam Moore grew up on a family farm in Western Pennsylvania during the late 1930s and the 1940s. Although he left the farm in 1953, it never left him. He now lives near Salem, where he tinkers with a few old tractors, collects old farm literature, and writes about old machinery, farming practices and personal experiences for Farm and Dairy, as well as Farm Collector and Rural Heritage magazines. He has published one book about farm machinery, titled Implements for Farming with Horses and Mules. More Stories by Sam Moore

One Comment

  1. James says:

    Where to start looking for a magnate for a 1950 farmall cub

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