Gary and I took a vacation together toward the end of June and across the 4th of July weekend. We left our homes in Elkhart (IN) on June 30th and drove west on US Highway 6 all the way to Moline IL (just in case there were any old tractor boneyards that we might have missed on earlier trips through there). Didn't find any though but that really didn't matter to us as it was still at least ten times better than working.
You can't do enough of this in today's hustle bustle world. Those of you still working know what I'm talking about and the rest of you can probably remember. Anyway, we were headed eventually to The Ageless Iron Expo in Ankeny, Iowa. We decided to make a week of it and that we would stop to spend our first night in Moline so that we could visit the John Deere Corporate offices. They have a Museum atmosphere in the huge foyer to their offices there where they have various displays of their tractors & equipment including a replica of the first plow that Deere & Company ever made.
They change the floor displays periodically but on this particluar Tuesday morning when we arrived, they had the 1st Experimental Model B that was built. You read the story about how different things were tried on this particular chassis and you could see where holes were drilled and then welded closed when things didn't work. Other than that, this tractor was immaculately restored.
There were many other tractors and implements on display there but the thing that really caught my eye was the huge 3 dimentional mural (incased in glass) that surrounded two sides of the huge room on the basement level. The mural was made up from posters, JD parts, farm objects, newpaper articles, old hand tools, and so many other items that you couldn't begin to have enough time to count them. They were all real objects that were mounted in a fashion that created sort of a collage type of mural.
You could stand there all day and see something different every glaze you took. The pictures on this page don't do justice to what was there but maybe they will give you an idea of what it was like.
Now, some of you who have been following these threads may be asking yourselves "What is this got to do with restoring an old JD "A"? Let me just say this......We left out of the old John Deere city of Moline and headed up the Western side of the Mississippi toward Clinton, Iowa near where Gary and his wife had boarded a River Boat last year to take a 2 day pleasure trip up the river. He wanted to show me the boat and to treat me to lunch at a neat little river side restaurant they had visited.
On the way there, we were approching a little town called Camanche when we saw a bunch of old tractors and parts spread out all over a guy's front yard. Natually we slammed on the brakes because a lot of that stuff was green. We got out of the truck and walked up to a flat bedded wagon that was loaded down with old tractor parts.
Laying right about the center of this old wagon was a pair of grilles for a JD A. Only problem was that they were both for the left side. As you can probably tell from some of the pictures at this web site of our old "A", we are in desperate need of a couple of new grilles.
By this time, the owner came walking up from behind the house and said hello. We asked him how much he wanted for one of those grilles and whether he had one for the right side. He said he'd take $25 each but he would not be able to get us one for the left side until Saturday.
Gary and I looked at each other and wondered if it would be worth coming back throug Camanche on the way home or whether we should take a chance at finding some in Ankeny at the show. We decided that the price was right and that we would take the chance that this fella could get us one in at least as good of shape as the left side ones we were looking at
So, we wrote him a check for the pair and told him we would pass back through on the way home on Saturday to pick them up (hoping that we had not made a bad decision and that the guy would be there when we got back).
We got in the truck and drove on up to Clinton where we crossed back over to the East side of the Mississippi and headed North again enjoying the scenery along the river. We had plenty of time to kill since the Ageless Iron Expo was not going to begin until Thursday and we decided to follow the river all the way up to Gelena, Illinois. Gelena is a neat little tourist town (nowdays) and there were a lot of quaint little shops on the streets and the town was really kept clean and a lot of the shops and houses were restored to their original condition.
Leaving Gelena, we drove on North where we crossed back over the river at Dubuque. We decided that with a lot of time to kill that we would just sort of zig zag toward the southeast and just kind of run the backroads toward Ankeny hoping that we would see some old iron sitting around. Surprisingly enough, we didn't see that much of it. If it was there, it was probably hidden or in sheds.
I was impressed with how clean the countryside was in Iowa (my first trip out there) when compared with Indiana. The farm buildings seemed to be kept up more than in Indiana. I don't know if any differneces in weather patterns had anything to do with this or not. All I can say is that I have a new respect for the state of Iowa from having gone on this trip.
As we meandered down across the state on the backroads, we ran into a little town called Melborne. Having decided to cruise around this little town a bit, we ran across an old Ag dealership that appeared to have been a Minnneapolis Moline dealer at one time from looking at some of the signs. Sitting out beside the main building was an old Oliver Standard in as about as good of shape as I had ever seen a tractor of that age that had not been restored.
Moving on out to the other side of the little town we ran across what may have been the storage lot for this dealership. The lot must have been about 3-4 acres and had all kinds of broken down tractor carcasses and pieces of old equipment. Some of the pieces we saw in there was 2 or 3 old MM tractors (not sure of the model but think that one of them may have been a "U"), an old Farmall skeleton on full steel, an old "K" Allis crawler, an early 50's JD A, several others as well as some old farm truck chassis.
I don't know why Gary and I do these kind of things....it's kinda like a magnet. We se 'em...we nib! At any rate, we left out of there and continued southeast to the town of Marshalltown where we got a motel and bedded down for the night.
When we got up on Wednesday morning and had some breakfast, we headed on down to Ankeny where we arrived around noon. After finding the show grounds and getting oriented to the area, we drove into DesMoines where we got a motel room for two nights, unloaded our gear and drove back up to Ankeny to see if we could get in to the show early while people were setting up their displays.
When we arrived we found out that we were able to go right in and we spent the next 6 or 7 hours just walking around the showgrounds and looking at the tractors and displays. Getting to look around prematurely was unexpected and we were glad to have been able to do this.
For the sake of shortening this story, we got up on Thursday and spent the entire day at the show and took in the events that were going on and looked around the swap meet booths. We saw several grilles there that would fit our old "A" and they were all priced at least twice as much as we had given the guy in Camanche. This made us feel pretty good.
We were looking for a set of decals for the "A" and came across Travis and Shirley Jorde's booth. We talked to Peggy Schumann who was manning the booth for the Jorde's and she told us that Travis and Shirley were in Amana at 2 Cylinder Expo VII. We didn't realize that there was any other show going on the same time as this one was.
As it turned out, having gotten in to the show early we had an extra day to spend so we thought that we might as well drive back to Amana and take in that show as well. So we spent the rest of the day at the show and when back to the motel for the night. Before we left though, we bought a PTO mounting flange for the "A" as ours had been broken and brazed back together. We also were able to get a set of radiator shutters for the "A". Our tractor's shutters had been removed at some time in it's history and the price was right ($50 for the shutters and $10 for the flange).
After breakfast on Friday morning, we left the motel in DesMoines and headed East on Interstate 80 to Amana Colonies where the 2 Cylinder Expo was being held. We spent quite a bit of time at this John Deere show. There were probably 800 or so tractors there, 99% of them green. We stopped by the Jorde's decal booth and talked to Shirley for a while.
We made sure that Shirley knew about the Web Site and I gave her my card. She told me that her son was putting together a web site for their business and I told her that if they needed any help with it to give me a call and I would be glad to help them. We never did get to meet Travis as he was out on the show ground somewhere. Anyway, we placed our order for the decals package and headed for the truck.
We drove from the show to the Moline area again and got a motel for the night. On Saturday morning, we got up and ate breakfast and headed back up the river to Camanche to pick up our grilles. The fella where we bought them was there and he had found a right side grille for us and it was indeed just as good of shape as the left side ones that we saw earlier in the week. We stayed and talked to him for about an hour while he took us around back of his house and into his repair shop. He was quite an interesting fella who we found out through our converstion with him that he was originally from our part of the country.
Anyway, all good things must come to an end. We thanked him and said goodbye. We hopped in the truck and headed back East across Illinois towards home arrriving late in the Afternoon.
This was one of the more memorable vacations that I have ever spent.....it was the first one that I had ever spent just "tractoring". And, we were fortunate enough to have gotten some needed parts for some decent prices to help us with restoring our "A". What more could you ask for? Now all we have to do is get started!
I've rambled on long enough for now so I'll just say at this point......stay tuned and we will report back on how difficult it may or may not have been in getting off them old grilles.