ENTERPRISE - When Erl McLaughlin began collecting old tractors in 1983, he had no idea it would become a hobby that would require a special building in which to house them. At the Sunrise Iron Farm he and his wife, Mary Ann, now have 30 old tractors, about 26 of which have been restored. And they have run out of storage room for them.
"And they all run," Erl says.
The McLaughlins will hold their sixth-annual Sunrise Iron Ag Heritage show Aug. 2-3. But visitors are welcome to tour the tractor collection at any time during the year
When Erl began collecting tractors, he found the first of his 30 old tractors in Enterprise. It is a 1927 10-20 McCormick Deering on steel.
Included in his collection is a 1908 20-horsepower Case portable steam engine he found in Lewiston, Idaho, but his oldest gas-powered tractor is a 1915 10-20 three-wheeled Case, which he found in Baker City. His oldest machine is a wooden cultivator that was made by the Pattee Brothers. It has an 1867 patent date, but was introduced in 1804.
He has a one-row corn planter that is a Deere and Mansur that came out of Kansas, but he found it in Enterprise. "At one time, for about 10 years, Mr. Deere and Mr. Mansur were in partnership from 1837-1847 before it became the John Deere Company," Erl said.
"About three years ago, I had been as far as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and two other Canadian provinces where I located a Heider tractor that is a friction drive and is a 15-27 model," Erl said. He also found a 17-30 Type B Minneapolis tractor in Canada.
When asked about the name of their farm, Erl said Sunrise Iron came about when he was crafting a sign for the place. "We live on Sunrise Road and liked the way it sounded and it has worked well on our sign," he said.
The McLaughlins have a collection of about 50 cast-iron seats that were not made for tractors, but for horse-drawn farm implements. There are about a dozen rare cast-iron seats in the collection.
They house a remarkable collection of about 100 oil cans belonging to their close friend Wendy Hansen, executive director of the Hometown Improvement Group in Enterprise.
Erl and his wife farm on Alder slope near Enterprise. They raise malt barley, seed peas and dark northern spring wheat.
"We farm in the summer and in winter we restore tractors," Erl said. "I'm always looking for future restoration projects that are part of our agricultural heritage," he added. The winters are long in Enterprise and the growing seasons short so that the McLaughlins have time to hunt for antiques and to work in their shop on cold winter days.
McLaughlin has a list of equipment he collects and invites people who might have some of the following items to contact him. He's looking for steel wheel tractors, wooden spoke wagons, wooden spoke grain drills, one and two bottom plows, high wheel cultivators, disc plows, cast iron seats, corn planter lids, cast iron tool boxes, old equipment signs and cast iron grain drill ends.
"We need to preserve the old farm machinery and I encourage people to contact us if they know the location of any of the above equipment," he said..
"I'm always looking for leads on more antique tractors and other farm machines, and I enjoy talking to fellow collectors," he said. At this time, they've out-grown the original building and are looking for ways to finance an additional structure to house their machines.
For more information about Sunrise Iron Farm call the McLaughins at 426-4407 or e-mail mclaughlin@Oregontrail.net.