Sterling showcase of tractor perfection

Tom Weaver is noted for restoring old tractors. Many of his projects will be displayed at the Great Tractor Show in Richburg this Saturday.
Tom Weaver is noted for restoring old tractors. Many of his projects will be displayed at the Great Tractor Show in Richburg this Saturday.

When Betty and Tom Weaver were driving through the beautiful country around Gatlinburg and Cades Cove, Tenn., Tom's quick eye spotted an old tractor in a pasture. He slammed on the brakes, much to Betty's dismay, and leapt across that field.

The owner appeared and said, "Good morning." Tom passed over all of the amenities and, pointing toward the rusty old tractor, said, "Is she for sale"?

"No" the man answered, "but I've got a friend that has one just like it, and he will sell his. He lives right down the road."

"Where?" Tom said.

"Go to your right out there," the man answered and started walking back to the barn. Tom was already in the car by that time, and the Weavers began a new adventure.

There was an old John Deere, rusty, banged up and easily showing her years of work and toil, standing alone. Tom knocked on the door, and when a man answered, he quickly approached the subject. "That old rusty tractor standing out there in the yard, I heard you wanted to sell her."

"That is true, I do," came the answer, quick and simple,

"What do you want for her?" Tom bargained. A deal was made, and Tom Weaver smiled for days.

She was a failing, elderly machine whose life had quickly aged her. However, in the hands of Tom, she became a perfect example of a whole body makeover.

When the work was done and the restoration completed, she stood in her grand glory -- a machine admitting to 67 years of labor and lack of attention. Her motor purred, her complexion was flawless, and the new tires made her proud. She had been made in 1940 in Waterloo, Iowa. But, of course, Rodman is now her permanent home.

She was presented to Aviana Rishebarger, a grandchild of Betty and Tom.

Each grandchild is the owner of a vintage tractor. Ian, Aviana, Katie and Cory all own one. They will be delighted to show and tell all about them on Saturday.

Through his profound interest in any machine that can be turned on and off, Tom becomes an immediate connoisseur of an engine growl or hum -- he knows them all.

There is a story of challenge about almost anything that has a motor. The most amazing is the Reid, which stood for years on a West Virginia mountain top, where she ran night and day, never stopping. Oil was her only demand.

Tom and a friend dissembled that mighty thing and lugged, pulled and wrestled it down to a valley where they loaded her on a truck and drove straight home. You will see and hear this miraculous apparatus and watch it send a tennis ball flying with one mighty belch of air.

Probably the one closest to his heart is the unmatchable "hit-and-miss machine." In fact, he said, "The first time I saw that thing work, I knew, right at that moment, I had to have one." And he does.

It sits proudly right there on the floor of his shop and will be in Richburg on June 16, when the Great Tractor Show comes to town.

Tom will be there from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., running and showing everything that he has in his collection, from a gasoline-fired washing machine to the mighty Reid.

The Hudson Family will sing, and there will be barbecue for sale, which is the best in town. All of the money collected from the various jars will go to the Richburg Masonic Lodge, where two $500 scholarships are offered every year to a college-bound boy students from the Lewisville area.

Bring your children and let them see the amazing machines, and let them practice being a farmer when they rake hay.

There's no admission fee, and everyone is welcome.

John Deere, Earthmaster and Allis Chalmers will be represented, and they are all in perfect dress. Every crack, every tear, every chip has been erased and made perfect by the hands of a tractor perfectionist.

Now there is a new challenge. The Weavers are enjoying another generation of children. Their first great-grandchild, Thomas Smith, arrived five months ago. He, too, will boast a newly restored vintage tractor in his toy collection.

To this great-granddad, the sound of a running tractor motor is an absolute symphony, better in tone and quality than anything Mozart ever wrote.

• What: The Old Tractor Show

• When: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

• Where: At the corner of S.C. 9 and the Lewisville High School Road in Richburg

• Tickets: No admission fee

• Details: Barbecue will be on sale, and the Hudson Family will provide musical entertainment