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Self-Propelled Asparagus Tractor
When Thomas Stears posted a picture of his grandfather’s homemade asparagus tractor on the Homemade Farm Equipment Facebook page, FARM SHOW had to get the story. The self-propelled asparagus do-all was made for planting and harvesting the high-value crop and was loaded with versatility.
    “My grandfather Jack Einhorn was an engineer at Bendix and did everything just right,” says Stears. “He had a small farm near Miles, Mich., where he raised his family. He built the rig sometime in the early 1970’s. They grew about 10 acres of asparagus, and he had this for the family to ride on.”
    The frame is a combination of angle iron and square and round steel tubing. It has three seats in addition to the driver’s seat. Seats to the left and right of the driver are mounted to round tubing that can slide in and out of slightly larger round tubing. Their tubing is keyed, so the seats stay parallel to the ground. The fourth seat (driver’s seat) is mounted to square stock that pivots at the main frame from vertical to horizontal position and also slides in and out.
    The main frame is 11 ft. long and 13 1/2 ft. wide. It’s powered by a 7-hp. Briggs and Stratton engine. A large pulley on the engine drives a small pulley on the Wheel Horse transmission. A small pulley on the output of the transmission drives a large pulley on the small car’s rear end.
    “My grandpa installed a bike-style brake on the pulley on the engine,” says Stears. “A hand clutch tensioned or detensioned the drive belt from the engine to the transmission. The throttle was mounted next to the hand clutch lever.”
    Einhorn retained master cylinders and brakes on each wheel. A lever to the left of the operator’s seat could be flipped right or left to brake a wheel independently for sharp turns.
    “For slight adjustments, he steered it with foot pedals that connected to the single front caster wheel,” says Stears.
    A large platform to hold roots or spears, depending on the season, is mounted to the rear. Smaller platforms for baskets are mounted between each pair of seats.
    Einhorn put many special touches on his tractor. In a nod to worker safety, exhaust was piped vertically to a small muffler well above the workers’ heads. Pipe-in-pipe mounted, worker footrests were easily adjusted by removing and reinstalling pins. Chains on the drive wheels ensured good traction, even in wet conditions.
    When an uncle who inherited the tractor questioned its future, Stears offered to take it. A buyer and seller of (largely Oliver) tractor parts and tractor manuals, he had no plans to start raising asparagus.
    “I salvage old tractors and farm equipment,” says Stears. “I also collect and sell tractor manuals of any color. I have around 40 parts tractors with 20 Olivers in my personal collection.”
    After bringing the asparagus tractor back to his home farm, he put it up for sale. A nearby friend who wants to raise a few acres of asparagus offered him $500.
    “My grandfather always hoped it would go to another vegetable grower, but most asparagus growers are too big to want it,” says Stears. “My buddy plans to use it, as well as clean it up to carry his family around tractor shows.”
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Thomas Stears, 67387 Sevison Rd., White Pigeon, Mich. 49099 (ph 269-340-2323; stearstractorparts@gmail.com; Facebook: Stears Tractor Parts).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #3