Case Collectors convention is under way in Clarion

CLARION – When Perry Straw sees the rows of slick, polished historical machinery in the Heartland Museum, he knows how hard somebody had to work to get it there.

Straw showed a photo of his own broken-down antique tractor while viewing the restored models on display.

“The work that goes into making these things,” he said, “from a pile of rust to like you see here is incredible.”

Straw traveled from Oregon, Ill., to attend the opening day of the J.I. Case Collectors’ Association 2013 spring convention in Clarion.

The convention draws enthusiasts from as far away as New York, Canada and Texas, said event coordinator Larry Maasdam.

Visitors can view Maasdam’s collection of Cases and other tractors at the Heartland Museum, and at three other locations around town. Dave Nelson’s collection of Case 400s will also be on display. There will also be vendors selling Case merchandise and a Case auction after lunch Saturday.

Maasdam said he has more than 500 tractors and crawlers, in various conditions. About 80 to 90 of them have been restored.

One noteworthy piece is the Case B, held in the museum.

“This is one of two made,” Maasdam said. “Well, there were more made, but we don’t know where they are.”

He also has about 90 high-crop Cases.

Straw said he came to the convention to learn from people like Maasdam. He only recently joined the collectors club, after he was given a dilapidated old Case DC-3.

“I began to get the magazine, and started to see what these men like Larry here had done,” Straw said.

“This is my first experience going to a J.I. Case event. I’m anxious to see how they talk, how they support one another, and what I can learn,” he said. “These old-timers know all the tricks, so I’m going to listen to what they have to say.”

Al Conillard, of Verona, Wis., was one of the vendors, selling parts and service manuals, catalogs that show the tractors, and other publications.

“It helps pay for the hobby,” Conillard said. “It’s a lot lighter than cast iron, dragging that around.”

Conillard does a lot of restoring himself, and owns an experimental 1939 Case VC.

Leroy Nugteren, Leighton, came to the convention hoping to sell a small tractor.

“This is a VAI, with an industrial loader. The loader is what makes it unique,” he said. “One of the reasons I brought it up here was to see if others have seen anything like it. I’ll see what kind of reaction I get.

“If it’s not that great, I’ll take it back home and restore it myself.”