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Old Farm and Home Days: powerful nostalgia at Stone Mills

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LAFARGEVILLE — When spectators paused to ogle the contraption attached to his 1958 McCormick Farmall Cub tractor, Albert Weller proudly declared, “There’s never been anything like it done before!”

The LaFargeville resident had mounted a 13-horsepower Honda engine to the side of his tractor and displayed it during the annual Old Farm and Home Days held Saturday and Sunday at the Northern New York Agricultural Museum at Stone Mills. The design, which even he found difficult to explain, acts as a power takeoff for front-end attachments, like a snowblower or mower.

“New tractors will have the live PTO, but the old ones like this don’t,” explained the almost 80-year-old. The PTO runs power to the attachment from the tractor engine. To his knowledge, no one has ever put together a design like it. He speculated this is because, “The average person doesn’t even think about doing this ... this is just a toy.”

But a working toy, nonetheless. On the front of the vehicle was a photo of Mr. Weller using the snowblower as a leaf blower.

“I love to display it, love to have people come up and look at it and try to figure outwhat it is,” Mr. Weller chuckled.

“I’m proud of him because he’s invented this, and it’s really cool ... everyone calls him Mr. Fix-it,” said his granddaughter, Andreah N. Capone, 11.

Andreah has done her share of work on tractors, and even helped her father, Andrew N. Capone, paint the Farmall Cub when he was remodeling it. The family has owned the tractor for 11 years. Mr. Weller has been working on the self-designed PTO for roughly three.

“Before I go to sleep at night, I plan the design,” explained the former farm boy. Already, he said, a group from Canada is interested in seeing the machine’s design.

Mr. Weller has been showing tractors at Old Farm and Home Days for years. He and Andreah take part in the tractor parade.

“It’s fantastic. He’s quite an engineer,” said museum board President Michael LaDue.

According to Mr. LaDue, the overall event had a good turnout, bringing in roughly 80 tractors and 40 cars. This was the first year the tractor show was held in conjunction with an antique car show. Previously, the two were held on separate weeks.

“We thought it would give both sides more exposure to each other,” said Mr. LaDue.

Attendance for the carshow Saturday was smaller than expected, Mr. LaDue said, due in part to another car show elsewhere. Things went smoother Sunday.

“They’re having a lot more with car engines in them for the tractor pulls,” said spectator Dennis W. Parker of Sackets Harbor. “I’ve been wanting to watch one for a long time,” he said.

Mr. Parker displayed a 1955 Crown Victoria glass top. Unique to just his car was the yellow glass top to match the vehicle’s peppy paint job. All other Crown Victoria glass tops were green. The car and tractor show allowed collectors like Mr. Weller and Mr. Parker to show off their unique modifications.

“I think it’s great, a good mix of people. You got the people who usually come to see tractors seeing the cars,” said Peter T. O’Driscoll, who was showing his 1966 Ford Mustang hard top. Mr. O’Driscoll speculated he had attended the Old Home Days for 20 years, and it is a good way to support the museum.

Stone Mills Museum is a small complex consisting of a sawmill, a granary, a school house, a church and several other buildings.

“It’s good for everything local ... the history of Jefferson County is some really unique stuff,” said Mr. O’Driscoll.


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