Rusty Wheels Old Engine Club

There is a local group known as the Rusty Wheels Old Engine Club that stages a public show twice a year at their club site outside of Harrison, Arkansas.  Unfortunately, I usually read about how good their shows are in the newspaper after they occur.  This year was different however.  I ran across an advertisement regarding the show as Retta and I savored our dessert at the ice cream shop, after enjoying a delightful meal at a local diner, a Friday night “tradition” we have recently established.  So I spent Saturday at the show, taking in the old machinery while reveling in the beautiful fall weather we have been having.

John Deere 1951 Model A - HC

I had expected that I would see many restored tractors at the show, such as the John Deere 1951 Model A – HC tractor shown above, and the rugged looking steel cog-wheeled John Deere shown below. 

John Deere steel-wheeled tractor

I did not expected to see the large variety of interesting additional machinery and activities that were at the fall show.  Those items that I can identify, I will.  If I can’t, maybe you can fill me in with a helpful comment.  Forgive the lengthy post, but the following photographs a but a small sampling of what was available to see. 

1965 Bombardier log skidder

How about this 1965 Bombardier log skidder?  Un-restored, but it is still in daily use by a local logging crew.  And obviously, an opinionated owner ;)

John Deere crawler

This 1947 John Deere/Lindeman 14 horsepower crawler would come in handy from time to time in my woods.

Home built buggy

It’s funny, but every time I made it a point to prominently display my camera (I would pretend to be fiddling with the controls), somebody would take the opportunity to drive right in front of me in their unique machines, such as the gentleman in the home-built buggy, seen above.

Tractor pull weigh-in

Shortly after lunch, the tractor pulling competition was scheduled to begin, so the preparatory tractor weigh-ins began about noon.  The Allis-Chalmers tractor (pictured above) has just been weighed, and is driving off the scale to await his chance to pull the sled. 

Tractor pulling the sled

For those of you who may not be familiar with tractor pulling contests, here are the basics in a nutshell.  The tractor is hitched up to a device called a sled, the green piece of machinery shown in the picture above.  The sled is engineered with the wheels and axle acting as a fulcrum point, in such a way that the load borne by the tractor increases the further along the track it travels.  Eventually, even the most powerful tractor will come to a standstill.  The tractor that pulls the sled the furthest is declared the winner, and everyone rejoices afterwards!

But tractor pulling is not limited to conventional farm tractors.  Massive, high budget jet-propelled or diesel-propelled tractors compete in larger venues, but here in a more moderate income area, the souped-up tractor of choice for pulling competitions are the lawn tractor, as shown below.

Competition lawn tractor

Not the ordinary lawn tractor you would expect to purchase at the local big-box store, but super-duper, highly modified and detailed custom jobs, especially built for these pulling competitions.  Some are so highly modified that they resemble a Top Fuel dragster more than a lawn tractor, as you can see in the following photo.

Highly modified lawn tractor

This is a motor sport that you can be competitive in at the top levels without having to budget hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.

Why work when there's other stuff to do?

And as you can see above, the participants are generally equipped with an active sense of humor.

Heavy iron in operating condition

The variety of engine types represented at the show was vast, including this operational steam locomotive.  The engine only travels about 60-70 feet before it reaches the end of the track and has to back up, but it provides enough distance to show off the operational capabilities of the locomotive.

Light iron in operation

Not to be outdone by larger equipment, the tabletop engineers also had their trains running up and down the tracks.

Small antique engine

This fellow made it his goal to keep this antique engine running the entire duration of the day, so everybody who walked by could see it running.  He was on the road to success in this quest, but it was no easy task.  He was constantly fiddling with the engine to keep it chugging along, but then what else would you expect from a 1915 Fairbanks Morse 1.5 hp engine? 

Brand new model engine

There were many variations of operational small engine replicas on display and for sale, one of which is shown in the picture above.  This kit is manufactured and marketed by a gentleman who lives in the neighborhood, using only a 7″ lathe and small milling machine for the production of his kits.

Anybody need something cut?

Various old saw and sawmill equipment was displayed at the Rusty Wheels Old Engine show, such as the tow-able cut-off saw seen above

Operational lumber saw mill

This horizontal saw is powered by the steam engine located a distance outside the shed.  The engine powers the saw via a long belt and pulley system, which you can see in the picture above.  There is a large distance separating the engine from the saw for several reasons.  This arrangement affords room for long lengths of lumber to be cut, keeps the saw operators out of the smoke and noise from the engine, and protects them from harm should some type of pressure failure occur in the steam engine.

Engine to power the saw

But the most important reason for the distance is to create the grip necessary for the belt to power the saw.  The sagging weight of the long belt causes it to exert tremendous pressure onto the surface of the pulleys, thereby reducing slippage to a minimum.  Additionally, since the seam that is used to join the two ends of the belt is prone to damage, the extreme length allowed the ends to be trimmed and re-spliced as necessary.  The engine would just have to be moved a little closer to the equipment, and all would be operational once again.

Cord braiding machine

Various old industrial equipment was on display, and most had been restored to operating condition, with ongoing demonstrations of the machinery in action.  The photograph above shows a cord braiding machine.  This machine kept chugging along all day, weaving the brightly colored threads above into the cordage you see spooling onto the reel, seen at the lower left of the photograph above.

I could go on with hundreds of additional photographs, but instead I invite you to see for yourself at the next Rusty Wheels Old Engine show, which comes up again this spring.  It is well worth the time, and adult admission is free, children and seniors free-er, of course!

The website for the Rusty Wheels Old Engine Club is


 Spring 2011 Show -  June 10th and 11th, 2011

 Fall 2011 Show -  October 7th and 8th, 2011      

18 thoughts on “Rusty Wheels Old Engine Club

  1. Sam – Many of these engines sounded like they were going to stall every other stroke of the piston, but they kept chugging away, as you said “hit and miss.”

    FC – There were remarkably few pieces of equipment for sale at the show, but I wasn’t in any kind of buying mode anyhow. The last thing I need (or want) right now is another piece of equipment to maintain.

  2. Hal,
    Thanks for the nice write up and picture story. Didn’t know you were there or we could have chatted awhile. Our Spring Show is coming up on June 8th & 9th, 2007. Same as always, FREE to get in & enjoy the “sights & sounds” of days gone by. Check out our website Please let me know if I can answer any thing for you. Thanks again. Hope to see you at the show.
    Bob Evans-Newsletter editor Rusty Wheels

  3. Hal,
    that was ME in one of your pictures of the Rusty Wheels story. I am the bearded one with the old Fairbanks engine. Now I am famous ! (at least in my own mind) Thank you for the write up and the wonderful photography of our event. Your whole website has some Great photos in take these yourself ?
    anyhow, thank you so much, and please come back again. I would like to talk with you and buy you a cup of coffee or even lunch.
    —-Danny Kolb,,,just ask for Papa Smurf..they will find me.

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  5. Thanks and i must say i found your post, Rusty Wheels Old Engine Club , interesting – I was actually looking for information on tractors but i was directed to your page , anyway i wish you all success

  6. What a great variety of machines. I like the little red buggy thing.And I have a lister’D’.I like the sound of the old “hit and miss” engines.

  7. hi i am just getting started in tractor pulling and i want to do my tractor up but i dont know were to get any parts can you help me out

  8. l came looking for information on belt wheels. l just purchased a p/u load of various sizes for $50. Some cast, others light. l also picked up a 16″ maple wood belt wheel in ex condition. I see most of your equipt are rigged with wheels. ls there anybody that could put these to use on equipt?

  9. I am interested in information about pulling at the Rusty Wheel. Do you know who I need to contact?


  10. I would like to know the physical address of your location. We noticed it yesterday while driving on Highway 65 just South of Harrison, AR. Thank you very much. I really enjoy old equipment such as the old engines.

  11. I am interested in coming to your spring show, but would like more information. I have some tractors that I might bring. What are the requirements? Do you have a tractor pull?

  12. I think you program is a cool think you should try to study tractors a littel bit better but i like the idealof doing that program it whould be cool to see it in real life i live in missouri and we dont have anthing like tht and i think old tractors is the beast an esay to driv my famly had a johndeere model mt ant it was cool and we had a modeal b and a modeal c that were restorded but a guy wanted theam and we sold theam to him for a nother type of tractor and we still got it and i know a place that has a hole bunch of tractors and i im bying 2 off of him one is a johndeere modeal c and it needes some work don and he said it runes but i dont know yet i m trying to get it running but ined some partes but i anit had time to work on it yet ites n a familyes barn in kansas and i have to travel to kanases to get this week end .

  13. Mr. Hatchel,

    Here is the latest schedule:

    Spring 2011 Show – June 10th and 11th, 2011

    Fall 2011 Show – October 7th and 8th, 2011

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