Vintage tractors to join 2009 Peach Parade

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Joe Mims sure knows his tractors.

Mims is among several vintage tractor enthusiasts from around the county and state who will show their antique machines in the 2009 Chilton County Peach Parade on Saturday, June 27.

The vintage tractors started showing up in the parade about two years ago when interest was stirred among locals. In 2007, about 10 tractors showed up. This year, Mims expects there to be at least 25.

“Somebody two years ago mentioned it to me, and I put them in touch with Harlan Brasher in Jemison. He knew the folks around that had vintage tractors, and he contacted enough people to have a good showing in the parade,” Mims said.

Mims, a local sod farmer, grew up on a Farmall Cub tractor. Farmall was a line of International Harvester, at one time the biggest farm equipment company in the world. In 1985, the company was bought out by Case Tractor Company.

Mims owns 10 vintage tractors, which are all International Harvesters. Five of them are currently being restored, but he plans to include the other five tractors in this year’s Peach Parade.

Also in the parade will be vintage tractors in the line of John Deere, Allis-Chalmers, and Ford. But Mims doesn’t mind telling you about his preference.

“Tractors are like watermelons. The red is good, and you throw the green part away,” he laughed.

Mims’ oldest tractor is a 1919 Titan. The first Titans were built circa 1910. The top speed of these tractors was 2.5 mph, but not for the reason you might think.

“The theory was anything faster than that would burn the soil and make it sterile, make it not productive,” he explained.

The Titan cannot be used in the parade because instead of rubber tires it has the old steel tires and cleats. Mims also owns a 1925 McCormick-Deering tractor, which also has steel tires, but the cleats were removed so it could be driven on asphalt. The McCormick-Deering won the oldest running tractor award two years in a row at the International Harvester state club’s annual show.

His newest vintage tractor is a 1948 Farmall Cub.

“All of them are hand cranked except the Cub,” Mims said, adding that cranking a tractor by hand can be a chore at times.

“I’ve had them start on the first half pull, and I’ve had them bring me to my knees,” he said.

Needless to say, tractors have come a long way when it comes to comfort. One of Mims’ modern tractors has air conditioning.

As for the older models, though any one of them could go back in the field today, Mims says they’ve served their time.

“It’s time to party and play now,” he said.

Others with vintage tractors in the parade will include members of the Southern Antique Iron Association, along with Ronnie Headley, Lee Headley, Gerald Smitherman, Red Turnipseed, Ross Robinson, Harlan Brasher, Glenda Mims, Tony Martin, Jim Pitts and Denver Cleckley.