STONY RIDGE ? It?s not unusual to see a tractor going down the road in Wood County.
It?s something else to see a convoy of four antique tractors pulling camping trailers with two motor
coaches flanking them.
That is exactly what northern county residents experienced early Friday afternoon; and by the way, the
tractors and their drivers are all from Australia.
The Transworld Tractor Trek was passing through on a 10-week cross-country journey which began last week
in Baltimore and will end in Los Angeles.
This is the first foreign adventure for the Chamberlain 9G Club, which has frequently done similar trips
around their homeland. For those not familiar, 9G stands for nine gears.
Talking with some the 11 members who rolled through Stony Ridge to spend the evening at the Marge
Sheldrick farm on Five Point Road, was an adventure in itself. Sentinel-Tribune
Photographer Aaron carpenter’s blog on this event
While they most assuredly were speaking English, there were times when a translator would have helped
with the traditional Aussie accents.
?This is purely for fun,? said Ron Bywaters, the coordinator of the group. ?There are no sponsors and we
are not rasing money for anyone.?
Noting their arrival was close to our July 4 holiday, Bywaters said ?We?re patriotic, too,? as other
members of the contingent unfurled a string of Australian flags which linked the various units.
Bywaters indicated all those on the journey are spending their own money. They shipped all the
Australian-made tractors in two cargo containers and purchased the motor homes and campers here. They
hope to sell all of the living units at the end of the journey, along with one or more of the tractors
The tractors, all are Chamberlain-made tractors dating from 1955 to 1966. The organizer said the tractors
on the journey are an average of 1962 models. After touring Australia, they decided to come to America.
When the convoy left Baltimore, there were five tractors; however one experienced engine trouble in
Fremont, or as Bywaters phrased it, ?cardiac failure? and was transported ahead to Archbold.
?It?s having a bypass,? Bywaters said,
?Yes, it?s major surgery,? agreed Dick Garnett, a longtime member of the group, who brought his tractor
which was part of the first trek in 2007.
?Triple bypass; no quadruple bypass, there are four cylinders,? Bywaters added as several got a good
laugh from his comment.
They also joked about the comforts of the tractors, noting their suspension and comforts which include an
original bench seat in Garnett?s tractor.
?There?s air conditioning, too,? Garnett stated.
?Just put the flap up,? Bywaters completed the thought.
?It?s hot when it?s hot and cold when it?s not,? Garnett summarized.
The group left for Archbold on Saturday morning.
All the tractors are capable of going 30 miles per hour, and each vehicle as the required slow moving
vehicle triangle on the back.
The signage is likely little consolation to those who end up in the traffic jam which follows them down
the road. They can travel on any roads except the Interstate highways.
All those on the journey spoke highly of the American hospitality they have received on the first week of
?People have been absolutely marvelous,? the coordinator indicated.
George Bass was one of the original members of the group and recalls their first trip across Australia.
He and many other current members of the group began with the first trek which was associated with the
2000 Sydney Olympics. It began with four tractors, yet ended with 34 tractors and an additional 30
The group are self-sufficient with the motor coaches and camping trailers, but do rely on a core group of
volunteers who help coordinate their journey along the way.
Bill Swope of Perrysburg filled that bill locally. It is his mother-in-law?s farm where the campers
stayed Friday night.
Swope learned of the trip through a friend who shares the group?s and Swope?s love of antique tractors.
?Antique people are some of the nicest people in the world,? Swope said.
?I really want to stress the hospitality,? Bywaters said, as he gestured toward a large group of tables
prepared to feed the travelers. ?The people have been wonderful.?
You can follow their journey and learn more about the trip at http://www.transworldtractortreks.com.