Man restores antique tractors to benefit charity

Staff writer

Since a young age, Jerry Toews of Goessel has loved figuring out how mechanical things work.

“When I was a kid what I did for fun was find things people would throw away, such as clocks, radios, and such and take them apart,” he said. “I wanted to know how they were put together.”

Toews may not have known how to fix the broken items back then, but he did learn some valuable knowledge about how things work together.

From there Toews began working on cars in high school, fascinated with how their engines worked. He built several hot rods, and after graduating from college he moved on to tractors and the rest is history.

Now in his retirement, Toews works on tractors and cars throughout the winter to prepare them to be sold at the Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale, along with restoring old engines as a hobby.

This year Toews has prepared seven tractors and two cars for the sale. All the vehicles were donated for sale and transported to Toews’ home in Goessel where he works on them making sure they run just right and look good.

“Most of them get donated after someone loses their spouse and they don’t need the vehicle anymore, or are from an older couple who moves to a nursing home,” Toews said.

That was the case for a 1942 Allis Chalmers B, which Toews said has been one of his favorites to work on this year.

“It runs like a top,” he said. “It was one of the more smoother running tractors I’ve worked on after I got it up and running.”

But Toews’ very favorite tractor he said is a rare find.

The tractor is a rare 1950 John Deere MTW High Crop. The tractor was one of a limited production and made for vegetable farmers. It is a taller tractor with wider spaced wheels to allow the tractor to drive down crop rows without damaging plants.

Toews said the tractor was once professionally redone, with an excellent paint job, but the engine was another matter.

“It had been sitting for so long that the engine was stuck and had to be taken apart,” Toews said. “Now it runs like a top. It looked so nice that I thought I wouldn’t have to do much to it, boy I was wrong.”

Toews said he loves working on any vehicle, but preparing them for the auction gives him a special kind of purpose.

“I love the feeling of taking something that doesn’t work and making it look good and run again,” Toews said. “It’s even more rewarding because I like the part that my efforts help change people’s lives.”

The auction is especially important because of his Mennonite background. Proceeds go to the Mennonite Central Committee, which provides relief and assistance to people in need all over the world.

“They don’t just give people what they need,” Toews said. “They teach people ways to sustain themselves like giving grain to grow their own food or animals to raise. These things do more for them than money. Some of the things we take for granted, like clean water, are so important to people all around the world.”

Several of the tractors, Toews has restored for previous auctions have been donated back and resold. Toews said it is fun to see that people believe in that kind of charity.

Toews said if anyone wants more information about the vehicles or to set up phone bidding if unable to attend the auction to call him at (620) 367-8257. The auction is Friday and Saturday at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

More information including a complete schedule and list of items to be auctioned is available at http://kansas.mccsale.org/.

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