I decided to drive up to my father’s house and spend the Labor Day weekend with him. On Saturday I made the two-hour drive from Washington, DC to Mechanicsburg, PA. Having grown up there and returned home countless times, I am very familiar with the route. I made my way through Dillsburg and then turned left onto York Rd. and drove about a mile. Then a right onto Williams Grove Rd. It’s only about 5 miles from there to my dad’s house. I hadn’t gone even a half mile when I saw a sea of farm equipment sprawled out over a field to my left. A little further I saw a sign that said “Welcome to Steam Engine Hill.” I decided to pull in and see what was going on.
“Dad, I’m going to be a little late for dinner, I’ve stopped up here at William’s Grove Park at a tractor exhibition or something,” I told my father on the phone. I paid $3 to park and got out of my car and started to walk around.
There were hundreds of tractors. Sometimes you would look down an aisle and not see the end. There were all kinds too: large, small, new, old, shiny, rusty, diesel, gas, kerosene, etc. They had a parade at sunset and all the tractors were lining up getting ready to do a lap around the fairgrounds. I came across a guy atop a tractor that was waiting to get into the parade and I decided to introduce myself. We talked for a little while but he was reluctant to accept my $10. “I’m actually not the owner of this tractor,” he told me. That didn’t really matter to me, but he said he would rather pass on the opportunity. I walked a short distance away and saw a large old tractor that was inching its way forward in the parade.
Dave was at the wheel of a 1928 Farmall Regular, a four thousand pound American made tractor. I yelled up to him and asked if he had a few minutes to talk and he said, “Sure come on up.” I climbed up onto the tractor and tried to find a secure place to stand. Dave recommended that I sit down on the side of the tractor to ensure that I didn’t fall off. Probably a wise call.
“Hang on,” he hollered over at me. “I’ve got it floored.” Thankfully maximum speed on one of these guys is only three or four miles an hour.
A mechanical engineer, Dave works as a project manager for a firm near his home in Millersburg, PA. “As a mechanical engineer this stuff really impresses me,” Dave says looking over at dozens of parked tractors.
I asked the 51-year-old how old he was and smiled and said, “Old enough to know better, too young to resist.” He is married and has three grown daughters. His passion for these vintage tractors and interest in engineering was not been passed on to his girls it seems. “I thought my oldest was going to be an engineer, but she turned out to be mathematically challenged,” Dave tells me with a grin. Although his daughters weren’t at the fair, his parents, wife and brother were all there. In fact I saw his father and brother driving some of the other tractors they own. That’s right, Dave owns several tractors, but I get the feeling that this Farmall is special.
He said he would probably put the $10 toward parts and supplies for his tractor. “It’s getting harder and harder to find parts for it.”
Dave allowed me to go through the parade with him. It was a great honor. I got literally a front row seat to the entire parade! We drove by main part of the parade and they announced Dave’s name and the tractor’s make, model and year. “There’s no judges, no prizes,” Dave says. “We do this because we love it.”
We made our way to the end of the parade and dismounted the classic row farming tractor. He points out that the original wheels were steel and although it runs on gasoline now it originally ran on kerosene.
Dave’s brother Justin came over and said hello. I took some more photographs of them and their tractors. They drove away on a small Wheel Horse tractor. Justin drove while Dave hitched a ride in trailer that it was pulling. I waved goodbye and headed on my way to my dad’s house.
I was really late by this time…thankfully he wasn’t upset. He was just happy to see me. Gotta love my dad!
Here is great video of me talking with Dave as we rode in the parade.