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Restored Oddball Tractor Is Factory Correct
As the owner of a mechanical engineering company and a collector, Eston Hoffman was fascinated by rare Eshelman Deluxe garden tractors.
“This was pretty much the craziest oddball garden tractor ever made. Almost every component is cast - even the levers and wheels,” Hoffman says. And the unusual hood with its toilet-seat-shaped grill sets its appearance apart from other garden tractors.
The 38-year-old started collecting Wheel Horse and other brands of garden tractors when he was 13. The first Eshelman that Hoffman saw at a consignment sale intrigued him, but it was in horrible shape. It set him on a 15-year quest before he found another one for sale in Canada.
Though it had been restored and was in good condition, Hoffman spent the next year working on it.
“I went over everything to make sure every nut and bolt and part was factory correct,” he explains. Only made in 1955 and 1956, there wasn’t a lot of information, and he did an in-depth look at black and white ads and other sources to determine the correct colors to paint the red knob on the steering wheel and get the right yellow. He used his 3D printer to design and make molds to cast the parts he needed.
The deluxe model is very rare. Though the design is simple, it included a hood and other features for its $595 cost, compared to the barebones regular model at $549. Eshelman cast and made all the parts except for the tractor seat, tires, and Briggs engine. The Maryland-based company built all types of motorized vehicles from cars and boats to planes and rockets. Though well-built in cast, the mechanics of the tractor are challenging.
“It’s a bear to drive, because of its cable steering and locking differential locking the wheels. It was built for work, not for fun,” Hoffman says. He drives it around at shows, but it’s too difficult to drive in parades.
As an oddball model, the Eshelman Deluxe stands out in Hoffman’s extensive collection of factory-correct garden tractors. Hoffman uses his engineering skills and emphasis on details to create parts for restorers and has come out with a line of 1/25th garden tractor models made with a 3D printer.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Eston Hoffman, P.O. Box 14, Berrysburg, Penn. 17005 (estonhoffman@gmail.com; Facebook: Eston’s Hobbies and Restorations).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #4