Featured Collector: Howard Sheldon

This World War II Victory Garden tractor, owned by Howard Sheldon of LaVista, NE, was assembled from parts of a 1934 Ford sedan found in an East Lansing, Michigan auto salvage yard. The builder was Walter H. Sheldon, Howard’s father, and a teacher in the Agricultural Engineering Department of Michigan State College (now Michigan State University). It was built as a demonstration of what could be done during the War when tractors couldn’t be bought and everyone needed a big “Victory Garden” for to provide food during the rationing period. The tractor was completed in 1942 and used to till the family garden until the mid 1950’s. After that the tractor was modified slightly by mounting a trailer hitch on the front, so that the elder Sheldon could pull and park his camper trailer with it. He used it this way until he died in 1972. The engine is a Cushman industrial engine built between 1910 and 1925. The engine was salvaged from a spray-rig by Floyd Howard of Farmington, Michigan, a farm chemical dealer and the builder’s brother-in-law.

Howard, the present owner, was a navigator on a B-47 in the Air Force, and later worked as an accountant. He worked for the J. C. Robinson Seed Company (Rob-See-Co) as a computer programmer for 15 years until retiring in 2000. He took possession of the tractor in 1973 after his father died. After using it mostly for fun, he put it in storage in the back of his garage in 1980. It stayed there until his grandson, Chad Arterburn, and he decided to restore it in 2002.

After cleaning the tractor, reworking the engine and repainting it, Howard and Chad now drive it in parades and display it at the annual EVAPA show in September. He continues to store it in the back corner of his garage. It is small and doesn’t take up much room except when he gets it out to work on it or prepare it for parade.

Howard enjoys the fellowship with the club members and says the club newsletter is a great help to him. He is still looking for some parts to finish a complete restoration of this unique tractor to its original state. The contacts that are available through EVAPA membership have been very helpful to that end.

Howard says, “This restoration really has been a great nostalgia trip for me. It has brought back a flood of memories from my childhood. I was 7 years old when Dad completed the tractor. I was allowed to go to the shop and “help” Dad, but I mostly watched. I remember the flash of the welder and the metal curling of the tool on the lathe. I also remember some of the tests Dad put it through after it was assembled. And to think that after 60 plus years, it still runs and I can proudly drive it in parades!!!”

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