83 year old turns antique tractors into prized possessions

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jan 10, 2014 4:45 AM

(Harrisburg) -- The Pennsylvania Farm Show has it's signature taste - the milkshake it's signature temperature - cold, and it's signature smell - you know exactly what I'm talking about.

But behind all of the crowds and usual attractions are the people that make the Farm Show what it is.

Sitting in front of the tractor, wearing a Been There, Done That, Still Plowin' sweatshirt, James Elmore Jr. remembers growing up on a family farm in Northumberland County near Interstate 80.

But since harvesting corns, oats, wheat and hay for decades, he's turned to a new hobby, restoring old tractors.


Photo by Ben Allen/witf

"Bringing something back to life, it gives me something to do in the wintertime. I'm still doing it!"

This isn't a business though, it's something the 83 year old just loves to do.
Elmore's tractors even get priority around the farm.

"Inside. I'd rather let my car out than my tractors out."

His workshop is heated, along with some garages.

With about two dozen tractors rehabbed and sitting on his farm, there's one that sticks out - the one Elmore's standing by at the Farm Show, the 1936 Allis Chalmers WC.

Originally purchased at the 1934 Farm Show, it ended up in a junkyard in the 1950's.

Shortly after, though, he went on a search for it.

"I made it kinda a goal to find it. Well there's one sitting here, maybe one over here, and I'd go check them out. There was two things: the tires and the original motor on this was cracked when dad had it. And so there was a plate on the side of the block. And I recognized it as soon as I walked up to it."

And then it sat around for a decade or so, before he got to work - and it was a lot of work.
"Faded to a real faint pink, sitting over that time, faded the paint away."

Now, the tractor is a bright orange, and runs just like it did nearly seven decades ago.

Elmore says he starts it up once a year to make sure it still runs, but for the most part, he takes it to farm shows and competitions throughout the state.

Through all of this, he's managed to maintain a more than 60 year long marriage with his wife.

He's got one secret.

"Just don't line them all up in a row so she can see how many you got. You know what I mean? You can get them in there, mix them in there, she don't notice it."

He wants the 1936 tractor to stay with the farm, so whoever is the next owner - family or not - can have it.

James Elmore Jr. isn't done either - he plans to refurbish an antique lawnmower this year.

The Farm Show wraps up tomorrow at the State Farm Complex in Harrisburg.

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