MCCONNELLS — Antique tractors, big and small, attracted hundreds of visitors, young and old, to rural York County on Saturday for the 17th annual Antique Tractor and Engine Show in McConnells.
Russell Dover of York, sat in a lawn chair under a tent behind three of his tractors, watching children play and adults take pictures. He was relaxed, almost as if he was watching the world go by from his front porch.
The annual McConnells show is one of nearly 100 similar events offered regionally for antique enthusiasts to display their machines or see someone else’s collection. Dover goes to many of the shows and has been doing so for several years – always with a few pieces from his collection of 25 tractors.
Nearly every tractor at the show on Saturday had a story.
Dover’s 1977 Power King, made by the Economy Tractor Company, has come a long way, he said – from sitting in a swamp in York to joining his garage about ten years ago.
Always on the look-out for an old tractor, Dover found his Power King after hearing about an unused antique tractor in York, he said. He didn’t know the man who owned the tractor, but he knocked on his door anyway to see if he’d be interested in selling it.
Dover was surprised to hear that the tractor had been abandoned a few years prior in a swamp in the man’s backyard.
“It was in bad shape. It was all rusted up,” Dover said.
After hauling the Power King from the swamp, he bought it for $700.
To many people, he said, the hunk of metal would have looked beyond salvation. But, like most antique collectors at the McConnells show, Dover has an eye for items thatrequire some restoration to return to working order.
Through his company, Upstate Tractor Restoration, Dover fixes modern, working tractors for farmers and restores antiques for himself and other collectors. He estimates he spent about $1,500 restoring the tractor he found in the swamp.
A retired truck driver, Dover said, “it’s a lot of fun to show this stuff,” but meeting new people and seeing old friends from the community is the major draw for the event. Many of the tractor shows that Dover and others attend double as benefit events for local fire or police departments.
On Saturday, firefighters and others with the McConnells Volunteer Fire Department sold plates of BBQ, baked beans and slaw to raise money for the department. The volunteer unit covers a nearly 50-square mile area of rural York County and depends on donations and fundraisers.
The event also featured wagon rides for children, craft vendors and bluegrass music.
Many people there were repeat visitors. It was the 13th year for Charles and Jean Faile of Lancaster.
Charles Faile tinkers with old engines and machine parts in his workshop. After seeing others display battery-operated and steam-powered engines, he started the hobby about six years ago.
Building and repairing engines, he said, keeps him busy in his retirement. Faile worked for 30 years with Springs Industries in Lancaster before his doctors advised him to retire after triple-bypass heart surgery.
Faile’s collection of small engines includes one that is solar powered and another that’s made from an old sewing machine wheel and VCR bearings. He also displayed a 1930 Maytag motor, complete with the old foot pedal that kept the washing machine running.
He hopes that tractor and engine shows such as the one in McConnells will help get children interested in machines. He wants young people to learn about building small engines so that they can keep the tradition going.
“You’d be surprised at the people that’s never seen anything like this.”
Anna Douglas • 803-329-4068