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Views and opinions: Allis-Chalmers appreciation abounded at Indiana show

This year was the 53rd annual for what the Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Assoc. refers to as “the world’s largest engine and tractor show” in Portland, Ind. Allis-Chalmers and Rumely were the featured tractors, and Ohio was the featured engine at the August 22-25 event.

This show has a huge parts section, and cool finds were everywhere. There was a nice selection of Wheel Horse tractors and in front of the tent was a former dealership Wheel Horse neon sign, the emblem a horse head and tire. In front of one group of garden tractor collectors one inventive genius created a miniature Waterloo Boy.

Gyneth Ausburger, director of the Jay Country Visitor & Tourism Bureau, brought a Cub Cadet belonging to her and her husband, and staffed a booth sharing information about the interesting places in and around the county. To learn more, visit

The show offered threshing and saw-milling. Visitors enjoyed watching the 100-hp Fairbanks Diesel Engine and 55-hp Muncie Oil Engine operate. Association President Chris Englehardt explained the lamps hanging from many of the oil engines with flames coming out of the top are referred to as “yellow dogs” because from a distance they look like dog’s eyes.

Russell Farmer of Eaton, Ohio, had his 1923 Fairbanks Morse Oil Engine at the show. “We think it ran a machine shop in Marion, Ohio,” he said of the mammoth machine.

The Allis-Chalmers tent housed some special tractors. One 1947 WC with a speed patrol was from Lock Six Farms. “This was used for townships and highways. It was a WC maintainer,” Hoss Nethers, a collector from Newark, Ohio, noted. “They were used to grade the roads.”

He told a story about the introduction of rubber into farming: “The Allis-Chalmers U was the first tractor that had rubber tires in North America in 1930. Famous racecar driver Barney Oldfield took it to the Indiana State Fair. He raced and demonstrated a land speed record of 64 miles per hour on September 17, 1933.”

A-C’s purpose was to get skeptical farmers to switch to rubber tires. Hoss added, “At the race track they demonstrated that rubber was faster.”

Around the A-C tent was an unusual 1949 Model G. Chuck and Sue Wiltfong of Michigan City and Monticello, Ind., its owners, wrote on the sign with it: “This model G came from the La Porte, Indiana, Allis-Chalmers factory. The engineers at the factory converted a regular model G by removing the pipe frame and running the steering shaft straight down and under the small bed.

“This model G was used in the experimental department. Two of these model Gs were made, and the other one is reported to be in private ownership in the La Porte area.”

Jim Stammen brought 30 – 30! – A-C tractors to the show. One of them, a 1964 D19, the first turbo built in North America, was recently featured in Diesel World magazine. “This is my new baby,” Jim said, pointing to his 1968 D21 Series II.

Mark and Monica Hacker were showing off their 1981 A-C 7060. This tractor was at the Patterson & Sons, Inc. dealership in St. Johns, Mich. It had been purchased by the owner of the dealership, and never has seen field duty. “It has only been paraded,” Mark mused. “It only has 68.3 hours on it.”

The next event for the Tri-State group is the fall swap meet. Go to for details.


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