February 26, 2024

Collector to exhibit David Bradley equipment

PENFIELD, Ill. — Carl Davis expects more than 100 David Bradley tractors will be on display at Historic Farm Days, July 7-10 in Penfield.

Organized by the I&I Antique Tractor & Gas Engine Club, the show is featuring David Bradley tractors, walk-behinds and equipment, along with Ford tractors, equipment and trucks.

“I’ve been collecting David Bradley items for about 25 years but I’ve been collecting John Deere garden tractors and all kinds of stuff for about 35 to 40 years,” Carl Davis said. “I’ve got a massive amount of stuff.”

The first pieces of farm equipment made by David Bradley were horse-drawn items. “He started making two-wheel garden tractors in about 1934 and the first ones were called Handiman and Handiman Jr.,” Davis explained. “And they were all on steel wheels.”

In the early 1940s, the company started making the two-wheel David Bradley tractors. “They were built until 1958 or ‘59 and then they came out with a smaller version, the Little Handiman,” he said. “They made 11 attachments for it, mainly for people with gardens, and I have the cart that you put out front and several of the attachments.”

The equipment was made in a factory near Kankakee, Illinois. “In 1986, most of the factory was destroyed in a fire but you can still see the sign that says David Bradley Farm Implements,” Davis said. “That area is now called Bradley, Illinois.”

Davis’ collection includes a 1934 Handiman walk-behind garden tractor with steel wheels and a 1939 Handiman RT. “I have some of the rarer pieces of David Bradley, including a Tri-Trac which has three wheels,” he added.

“I’ve got a lot of the smaller stuff like a cream separator, egg scales and pasteurizers that people don’t normally see,” the collector said. “There are lots of products sold through Sears with the David Bradley name on them.”

One of the David Bradley collectors is bringing a banner to the Penfield show that says David Bradley Chain Saw Exposition. “And I’m bringing five David Bradley chain saws to display,” Davis said.

David Bradley collectors from several states are planning to travel to the Historic Farm Days. “They are coming from Kansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri,” Davis said. “There’s going to be quite a few guys there.”

Originally, Davis started his collection with a John Deere garden tractor that he still owns. “They are just like Lay’s potato chips, you can’t just eat one or have one tractor,” he noted. “So I would be at an auction and see a neat tractor that I thought I needed to have.”

Now the collector has multiples of some of the pieces in his collection. “I have a nephew that is getting into collecting so I gave him things that I have doubles of,” Davis said. “And there’s another young collector by Peoria that I gave some of my attachments to.”

It is important to keep the younger generation interested in collecting farm tractors and implements, Davis stressed. “I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff that some day I’m going to have to do something with,” he added.

Typically, Davis travels to 13 or 14 shows a year to display his items from his collection in many states including Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. “I’ve been going to the Penfield show for the past 20 years,” he said. “But with the gas prices this year, I’m going to shows within three hours from my home.”

For more information about the Historic Farm Days, go to www.historicfarmdays.com, or call 217-595-5000.

Martha Blum

Martha Blum

Field Editor