Visiting the truck and tractor museum

Keystone Truck and Tractor Museum exhibit

A while back, I wrote of the mystery of why some old-timers referred to nuts as burrs. Clyde Wolfgang stopped by the other day and said that his granddad called them burrs, and once told Clyde why.

Seems those cussed old monkey wrenches often slipped on a tight nut and raised a sharp little sliver of metal, or a burr, on the nut’s edge.

Clyde said that was the reason the old man called them that and that he had always protected his fingers from those sharp burrs with gloves.

Museum visit

Several years ago, Mel Rhiel told me about visiting the Keystone Truck and Tractor Museum just north of Petersburg, Virginia, and what a great place it was.

Well, I finally got there early in July, and it is impressive. Keith Jones and his brother, Kolen, started Richmond, Virginia-based Abilene Motor Express in 1986 and now run nearly 400 over-the-road trucks.


Along the way, Keith bought his uncle’s John Deere M and restored it.

This was the beginning, and through the years Jones collected and restored nearly two hundred tractors.

There is the original John Deere M, plus two rows of green and yellow from a Waterloo Boy to the 30 series.

IH is represented by styled tractors from a Cub through several W models to an M. M-H machines include a GP, a Challenger and several later versions.

There are a dozen different Oliver tractors, several Case tractors, including a D orchard tractor with all the sheet metal guards, a 1918 10-18 and a 1927 18-32.

There is a Moline Universal, a Minneapolis-Moline UDLX and a 1936 Twin-City JT orchard equipped with full sheet metal. Also displayed is a Sheppard SD-3, Rumely 6, Gibson H and Graham-Bradley standard tread.

Other rare tractors are a Brockway, Eagle 6, 1937 Silver King, 36 Centaur KV, a John Blue G-1000 and a Sears Economy.

Ford isn’t forgotten, with examples of Fordson and Ford scattered around the floor.

Nor are European tractors neglected: a beautiful Lanz Bulldog road tractor greets the visitor in the entry hall, while there is an English-built Fordson Major diesel; a 1947 French Vierzon FV-1 with a one-cylinder, hot-bulb engine; a 1954 Italian Landini, also powered by a single-cylinder, hot bulb engine; an English Field Marshall Mark I with a two-stroke, one cylinder, diesel engine; and two more Lanz Bulldogs.

Fire equipment

A gaudy little 1935 Ford coupe fire chief’s car, bristling with red lights, bells and sirens, starts the fire equipment display.

Fire trucks include a 1923 Ford Model T, American-LaFrance, a 1926 Sanford pumper, a 1922 Ahrens-Fox, a 1934 Ford pumper, a 1924 Pierce-Arrow and an unrestored 1924 Maxim M3.


The museum advertises that it has over 100 antique road trucks, and I can believe it.

I saw a 1927 HUG (pronounced hoog) Roadbuilder with a cement mixer and a 1936 International C30 Gulf gasoline truck.

A 1939 Mack BM with a 1935 Fruehauf trailer are painted in orange and black Yellow Freight livery, and there’s a 26 Mack Bulldog flatbed hauling a Fordson tractor.

Other Macks included a 1938 Model EHU Road tractor and a 1949 EGU flatbed carrying a John Deere 430U tractor.

Diamond T trucks are a 1933 flatbed, a 1942 Model 806 flatbed with a Deere MT tractor as a load, a 1930 3-ton dump truck and a huge 1952 Diamond-T 950RS tandem flat with two Cletrac crawlers on the back.

Corbitt road tractors include examples from 1933, 34, 49 and 52. There is a rare Brown Model KT road tractor, which is one I’ve not seen before.

A 1947 Ward La France D-3 road tractor lettered for Estes Express Lines is another rare bird on display.

A 1920s White one-ton, a 1942 White WA-120 cab-over, a later White 3000 cab-over and a 1950 White Freightliner Model 800 Bubble-Nose tandem tanker and 4-wheel tank trailer represent the White Motor Co.

There is an unusual 1940 Dodge VKDA diesel road tractor and a 1938 Dodge one-ton pickup, both beautifully restored in gray and black.

Other trucks are a 1938 Reo Speed Wagon, a 1919 Day-Elder 2-ton, a 1926 Graham Brothers Model EDX with a Garwood dump, a 27 Graham Brothers EDX tractor with a 400-gallon tank trailer, and 1950 Ford F-7, 1941 Federal Model 25 and 1937 Studebaker J30M road tractors.

Other stuff

The museum also displayed old tools for carpenters, loggers, coopers, barn builders and blacksmiths.

All kinds of traps, pruning shears, hay tools, wire stretchers and other fencing tools, chainsaws, all sizes of chain hooks, hose nozzles, funnels and spigots.

I saw garage tools, oil cans of all sizes and many oil company signs. There is a replica of a two-bay service station with a 1955 Ford Thunderbird on the hoist and another on the floor.

Another corner is filled with tobacco and cigarette signs, and pretty much all through the exhibits there are advertising signs of all kinds hanging up above.

There are long glass cabinets containing several shelves, each holding hundreds of truck and tractor models, while other class cabinets hold pop bottles, canning jars, vinegar jugs, fruit and vegetable cans and ammunition boxes, among other things.

Above some of these cabinets is hanging a large collection of advertising wall thermometers.

There is even an ancient, wooden-framed and wooden-wheeled boneshaker bicycle hanging on a wall. It is amazing! If you ever get the chance, see it!

End of an era

By the way, my more than 28-year-run of writing Let’s Talk Rusty Iron columns for Farm and Dairy is fast nearing an end.

On Sept. 24, Gene Kiko is selling off all my property and other stuff, and at some point after that I’ll be moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, to be near my daughter and son-in-law.

It’s been fun, but all good things must end.


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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.



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