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Tractors from 1930s to 1970s displayed at Mooreland Free Fair

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Henry County resident Kermit Adkins brought this 1948 Ford 8N tractor to display in the Antique Tractor Show Wednesday evening at the Mooreland Free Fair. Adkins said he picked this tractor up at a farm near Lafayette free of charge, which was in pretty sad shape when he got it, and it took him two years to restore it to pristine condition.
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By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

MOORELAND — The annual car show at the Mooreland Free Fair attracted a lot of motor vehicle owners willing to display and talk about their machines.

But what some folks might not realize is that the Fair also had an antique tractor show in which tractors from several past decades are displayed and an owner or two may be around to talk with people about them.

Such was the case Wednesday, Aug. 7, when several tractors of all shapes and sizes from the 1930s to the 1970s were displayed on the far western part of the fairgrounds.

Kermit Adkins, a Henry County resident who lives a couple miles east of Shirley, had brought two of his 15 restored tractors to the Free Fair, a 1948 Ford and a 1964 International Harvester, and was more than willing to talk about them.

“I worked 47 years at Chrysler in New Castle and have been retired for 20 years,” Adkins said. “I had to find something to do and I’ve always liked tractors, so I decided to salvage old ones no longer in use and restore them. I’ve been doing it for 15 years.”

Adkins, who admitted he farms “a little,” has done an excellent job with the two tractors he brought to the Fair. They look as good as new. He also restored the paint on the tractors to the original colors.

“I even have the owners’ manuals for these two,” Adkins remarked. “I have the original owners’ manual that came with the International and I was able to purchase one for the Ford.”

Adkins relayed how he obtained the two tractors he brought to this year’s fair.

“The International was sitting outside in back of a barn just rusting away for about eight years,” Adkins relayed, “and the Ford was outside on a farm near Lafayette. The owner of the Ford found out that I liked restoring old tractors, so he said if I came over to get it, I could have it for free.”

Adkins is meticulous when restoring the machines.

“I tear them down to their basic parts and then rebuild them bolt by bolt,” Adkins indicated. “Some of the parts are rather easy to get, but others are more difficult to obtain and may have to be ordered. It took me about two years to rebuild this Ford to the way it was when it was new.”

As already indicated, Adkins now has 15 antique tractors and he seemed to be in very good shape that he could restore more.

“I have 13 Fords, the International, and another one,” Adkins noted. “They’re probably worth some money, but right now I have no intention of selling any of them. I might someday because I know I’m not going to be around forever.”

Adkins was asked if his tractors could be used in the field today for planting, plowing, and harvesting.

“Oh yes,” Adkins replied. “But they won’t be because these are just for show now.”

Adkins was asked if there are a lot of people who restore old tractors.

“Not really as far as I know,” Adkins added. “We’re a rather unique group. We just like tractors and find it hard to part with them. There definitely are more people who restore old cars than restore old tractors.”

The oldest tractors during Wednesday evening’s show were manufactured back in 1937, making them 82 years old. The “youngest” tractor was manufactured in 1979, which was 40 years ago.