Area farmer finds tractor-making a 'fascinating thing'

October 01, 2007|By Arnold Platou

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Ron Elliott got royal treatment a few months back when he travelled from his farms near here to the John Deere plants in Waterloo, Iowa, to see his new tractor.

Elliott, 65, who retired from Mack Trucks in 1997 but has farmed all his life, said last week that he bought the new tractor, a John Deere 7930 with dual wheels, from Smith Implements in Mercersburg, Pa., early this year.

Then in May, when the new tractor was ready for production, Elliott took two friends - Ray Lesher, a quality control engineer for Mack-Volvo Powertrains, and his son, Kevin Lesher, an electrician for Shifler Electric in Hagerstown - to Waterloo.

"Smith set me up for a Gold Key tour (of Deere), and we followed the tractor down the assembly line while it was being built and when we got to the end of the assembly line, they gave me a gold key and I drove it off the line. Deere then brought it to me by tractor-trailer," Elliott said.


The new tractor is far from the first he has owned. Currently, he said, he's uses "10 or 12" tractors at Creekside Farms, which is based at 12865 Worleytown Road. His cow-calf beef cattle operation covers his two farms, plus a couple hundred acres he rents, he said.

But Elliott buys tractors just because he likes them, too.

He collects vintage tractors of any make, but primarily John Deere. "Since 1987, I've had over 300 John Deeres," he said. "I go to sales all over the country."

HIs newest tractor, which has custom leather seats and a leather steering wheel, is now one of the mechanical workhorses on his farms, Elliott said.

Last Thursday when he stopped by The Herald-Mail offices, the tractor was home with a big Heston square baler hooked to it. It's been busy baling hay for his 125 brood cows, which are mainly Black Angus Limousines.

He said he pastures 150 acres, and raises hay on the rest.

The trip to Deere's plants was probably his fifth or sixth, he said, but the first time he's actually seen one of his own being built.

"It's fascinating to see that thing built," he said.

"How many miles of electric wiring do you think are in that new tractor?" he asked.

"In that new cab alone, is 23 miles of electrical wiring. It's amazing!"

Ron Elliott, who farms near Greencastle, Pa., actually got to drive his new tractor off John Deere's production line in Waterloo, Iowa, a few months back.

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