2020 - Volume #44, Issue #1, Page #09[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Pedal Tractor Pulling Expert Says More Operators Needed
Tractor pulling - the full-size version - was VanDeCreek’s passion as a young adult. But when his son was ready for college, he sold his hot rod tractor. However, his experience and knowledge set him up perfectly for the less expensive sport of pedal pulling. After building a tractor and sled, he ran a pull at a Hope, Kansas, event. Soon other communities contacted him.
“Six years later we were doing 40 some pulls, and later, with my wife (now deceased), we were up to 65 pulls a year,” VanDeCreek says, noting that he put on pulls for two generations, first the parents when they were young and later for their children.
Though he sold his event business in 2014 to Mark and Kathy Whitesell of Bennington, Kansas, he continues to build a couple of tractors a year to sell.
“There’s a lot of difference between a plain pedal tractor and a puller,” he emphasizes. VanDeCreek builds everything starting with a frame made of 1/4-in. aluminum plate. He mills the pedal arms out of 5/8-in. steel so they won’t bend or break.
“I design them so the rear wheels are locked together, and I make them so the front end is heavy. That’s what makes them run straight. The child sits in front of the rear axle to keep the front end down,” he says.
To make pulling a successful, fun experience for kids he makes 4 sizes of tractors for ages from 4 to 12.
“The one for 10 to12-year-olds is twice as long. We call those stretch tractors,” he says. “Seats are completely adjustable - even for adults.” He also uses different gear ratios for the different sizes.
His aluminum sleds are designed to give the young competitors success.
“I like them because they are more versatile. I can put the weight where I want to put it,” he says, noting he has weights from 20 to 350 lbs. He also has different pads for the front of the sled that he uses depending on the surface - rubber on concrete, and aluminum on sand, for example.
These days, the retired John Deere service manager is president of both the Kansas and National Pedal Pulling Associations and he stages a couple of events each year himself. He also sells his tractors to others who run their own businesses, staging events at fairs and town celebrations.
While he is partial to John Deere, he has made a variety of pedal pullers such as Massey Harris, Oliver and IH. Contact him for more information.
And if you happen to be at a Kansas pedal pull, it’s easy to spot an original VanDeCreek. He places a penny in the center of the steering wheel. The date on the penny is the year he built the tractor.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill VanDeCreek, 115 Westwood Dr., Abilene, Kansas 67410 (ph 785 263-2333; email@example.com).
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