Posted 7/14/15 (Tue)
By Cecile Krimm
Perhaps not since the day in 1915 when farmers stood cash in hand to purchase the latest Avery tractor models has such a wide variety of Avery products been displayed at a single time.
For sure, said John Tysse, Jr., the display of Avery models featured in this year’s Divide County Historical Society Threshing Show this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, is the most complete exhibition of the line in modern times.
“This is special,” said Tysse, including at least one model of every size produced by the company.
Just how many sizes is that? Driving the grounds of Pioneer Village Thursday, Tysse brings his pickup to a stop and removes his hands from the steering wheel to count -- he stops at eight sizes of tractors with what are called “sliding frames,” along with multiple sizes of threshing rigs, power units, plows and trucks. In all, more than 19 units will be included in this year’s show.
The feature came about, in part, due to the amount of Avery equipment owned locally, the number of Avery models recently refurbished by local collectors, as well as the availability to fill in a few holes in the display by inviting nearby or well-known collectors to bring in a few items.
“In the last few years, we fixed up five of them,” said Tysse, including a model owned by local collector Rob Melby, who also is the owner of a wooden Avery threshing rig -- the “yellow fella” -- which was used in the filming of the 1978 movie “Northern Lights.”
The Plentywood Old Tractor Club is bringing over a 20-35 Avery and collector Mark Peterson, a Tysse friend from Luverne, hopes to bring his newly-restored 40 HP Undermount Steam Engine for its inaugural exhibition, and it will impressive, according to Tysse.
“It looks like a locomotive,” and is the largest steam engine Avery built. In fact, said Tysse, it is much larger than any of the other steam engines people are used to seeing at the show.
“That will be something to see, just in itself,” said Tysse.
The tractor was originally used in Oklahoma for breaking land and powering threshing rigs.
Another unusual tractor is what Tysse calls an “after market” Avery, owned by local collector Larry Adams. The tractor was manufactured with the Avery name after the original company went bankrupt.
In addition, several other Avery plows, tractors, trucks and power units will be on display, some of them coming from a distance -- including an 80 HP power unit owned by Matt Folstad of West Fargo; an Avery 5-10 owned by the Gary Biwer family of Barnesville, Minn.; a 1912 Avery Farm and City Tractor owned by Joe and Kristy Peternell of Albany, Minn.; and a 32-inch Steel Machine threshing rig owned by the Marsaa family of Tappen.
“Verle Marsaa is a very good separator man and he gets the machines in shape at this show and many others,” said Tysse.
If all goes as planned, said Tysse, Peterson’s big steam engine will pull Marsaa’s threshing rig through the tractor parades on Saturday and Sunday. Normally, the threshing rigs are not seen in the parade.
Tysse said this year’s exhibition is drawing a lot of interest from collectors.
“It’s a famous line,” said Tysse, probably second only to the International line for the number and variety of models manufactured.
“Avery and International were probably the two companies that made many different sizes of tractors,” said Tysse, but the Internationals have tended in the past to have more collector interest -- only because, as Tysse puts it, “International made some awful funny equipment.”
Three pages of this year’s show souvenir booklet are dedicated to the Avery line, including a page lifted from a vintage Avery catalog explaining the company’s philosophy for offering so many different sizes of tractors. The books are available around Crosby and at the show.
But just talking to Tysse elicits fascinating tidbits about the Avery company, which was founded by a Civil War prisoner who used his time in captivity to draw up the farm implements he dreamed one day of manufacturing.
After getting into the production of steam engines around 1905 and enjoying widespread acceptance, by 1923 a different manager led the company into bankruptcy. It’s plant was then sold to what became the Caterpillar corporation.
As always, Tysse is mindful of giving credit to the many volunteers who help bring the show off -- from the collectors and boiler men who travel from all over the country to run the antique rigs, to the ladies who organize the food and publicity.
“They come and work the whole time. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have a show,” he said, not to mention the many local people who take shifts at the gate, raffle table or kitchen.
“Nobody gets paid,” said Tysse, it’s just a huge cooperative effort, paid back in part by local collectors attending and taking equipment to other shows.
As Tysse drives the grounds, he points out a new porch in front of the Larson Depot, along with new steel roofing, donated by Stubbs Builders, on the Little Red Barn -- just a couple of many building improvements visitors will see this year.