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Views and opinions: Michigan collector shares one of two rare Cockshutts

 

Glen Berry of Ottawa Lake, Mich., and his brothers and sister all grew up on Cockshutt tractors. Cockshutt was also the featured brand at this year’s Florida Flywheelers.

Glen had his beautiful 1954 Cockshutt Canadian Air Force tractor on display at the Fort Meade, Fla., event. “We spent time in Michigan on Cockshutt tractors. The biggest was a Cockshutt 50.”

The 50 was traded off in 1967 for a Farmall 806, and he said, “That was like chopping cotton. Prior to that, we farmed all 100 acres with the Cockshutt 50 and lots of Cockshutt 30s. The big horse was the 50, and I think it was a 1950 or so.”

It was that history of farming with Cockshutt tractors that prompted him to collect the brand. “We, my brother Craig and I, collect them,” Glen explained.

The story of the Canadian Air Force tractor is quite interesting. The tractor was built in Branford, Ontario, for the Royal Canadian Air Force. It is only one of two known to exist – and what is really amazing is that Glen also has the other one at home.

This one was at the Chatham Air Base in New Brunswick and was used for towing loads out onto the tarmac that would be transferred onto planes for military use. The tractor was used at the base from 1954 until 1966 when it was transferred into private hands. Glen bought it on Prince Edward Island, Canada.

“It is in the middle of the ocean to get there, and is on Canada’s most eastern province,” he noted. “The gentleman I bought it from bought it from a doctor that owned a campground and used it for pulling a trailer for firewood and trash.

“My guy was a collector and he painted it. He retired and sold his business, and built a big house and thinned out his collection. Between my brother and I, we probably have six of them.”

There was another draw along with the Air Force tractor; Glen also learned about a rare Canadian forklift. “Cockshutt also built 12 Cockshutt forklifts for the Canadian Air Force. My brother Craig and I made the deal. We discovered these about this time (February) last year. We went in May through Canada – it was 2,000 miles each way, so about 3,900 miles round-trip.”

The brothers go prepared through border customs. “We have brought back loads of Cockshutts before and it was no problem. We did see a moose in New Brunswick and crossed the St. Lawrence Seaway and got on the Trans Canada Line. There was still snow on the ground in May,” Glen reflected.

The tractor made its debut at the 2017 Half Century of Progress in Rantoul, Ill., and was on display under the Ferguson tent. It caught a lot of attention there because Glen had it hooked up to a Allison Aircraft jet engine.

“It makes a pretty good display,” he said. “At a fuel stop, a mom named Allison stopped and posed with her four kids.” That is still one of his favorite pictures of the tractor.

The Air Force Tug went to some other shows and even went on a tractor drive across the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. “It drove beautifully. I greased it and got two new front tires.”

Glen was so taken with the beauty of Prince Edward Island that he wanted his wife to see it. “Jane and I were in Maine visiting our daughter, Emilie. I was so impressed with Prince Edward Island I wanted her to see it … I had talked to more Cockshutt people and discovered that there was a second Air Force Cockshutt near Chatham AFB in Miramichi, New Brunswick.”

He has his own military history: he was in the Army and served at Fort Knox, in Germany and in Louisiana, and he was attached to the C5 Galaxy Cargo Plane. “I knew turbine tractor pullers,” he said. Today he works in refineries as a crane operator and has done that since 1981.

 

Readers with questions or comments for Cindy Ladage may write to her in care of this publication. Learn more of Cindy’s finds and travel in her blog, “Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl,” at http://travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com

4/10/2018