When we started this website we had 32 restored Wheel Horse tractors in our possession. We actually started out with a 1963 Farmette tractor which we sold to purchase our first Wheel Horse in 1964 but have another restored Farmette in our collection now. Wheel Horse has been our preference since owning the very first one. We started out with the garden tractors to work gardens, move snow and cut grass and continue to do so with the newer models in our collection, the older ones we have restored and plan on taking to various collectors shows.
I have worked my entire career as an auto body repairer, my wife and I owned our own business for 22 years in the small town of Forest, which in our retirement, our son has taken over the business and carrying on the fine reputation we built. Now that we have retired I, along with the help and patience of my wife Betty, am able to concentrate on my hobby of restoring and collecting Wheel Horse Tractors. My background in auto body repairing has come in handy for restoring the tractors because some of them came to me as piles of junk (or what would look like junk to the normal eye).
Hope you enjoy looking at my collecton as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.
We have three children, Dale , Dan & Karen. All of which are married and we have 3 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Our children also own Wheel Horse Tractors. Special thanks to Dan for all his help in restoring the tractors. Also special thanks to Karen for placing them on the internet.
R & B Wheel Horse Stables (named after owners Roy and Betty Stewardson) was established in 1995 when Roy sold his successful Auto Body repair shop in Forest Ontario, a small rural community north of Sarnia and near the Lake Huron shoreline. It now consists of over 60 Wheel Horse lawn and garden tractors housed in a specially designed storage barn/workshop next to their home.
How did you get started? – I guess it started by accident, with my auto body shop and my enjoyment of tinkering and fixing small engines, there’s something about the challenge of doing something most give up on. It kinda grew from there. I also built a few vehicles myself, including a car, a four wheeler, a self propelled lawn roller etc. I guess it’s something I picked up from watching my Dad repairing vehicles on the farm, where I grew up.
Why Wheel Horse? – I bought my first Wheel Horse in 1964, I had used other makes before but the Wheel Horse just struck me as a well made and sturdier vehicle than the others and I still feel that way.
When did you really know you were hooked? – I had run my own body shop in Forest for over 20 years and I knew when I retired I would need something to keep me busy and thought collecting and restoring Wheel Horses would be a good retirement hobby. I didn’t realize then, that it would grow to what it is today.
How has the hobby grown since then? – As I said I now have over 90 tractors (60 Wheel Horse and 30 other unique models) and over time friends and acquaintances who would come for a visit, would often encourage me to take them on the road to shows and exhibitions. Betty and I loved RV’ing as well and thought that maybe we could combine the two and it has worked out quite nicely. We go to about 12 shows a year in Canada and the US, and make sure we attend the annual Wheel Horse Collectors show in Arendtsville PA each year as well. We purchased a special toy hauler trailer that we can pull with the pickup truck that holds about 4 tractors and once the tractors are out – it converts to an 18 foot house trailer that we live in.
Tell me more about the “Stables” – Well, this also started in my garage but moved rather quickly to a small storage shed, that shed has now gone through 3 major expansions to date. The front portion is my workshop and the balance is storage. It is more like a museum that includes the tractors and a pretty large inventory of Wheel Horse implements and attachments like plows, snow blowers, harrows, wagons, trailers, roto-tillers etc. We even have a Wheel Horse snowmobile. Our friends started calling the shed “the stables” and it kinda stuck. The collection also expanded to the house where we have a lot of other memorabilia that I have collected over the years – Wheel Horse toys, pedal tractors, books, manuals, key chains, belt buckles, pretty much anything to do with Wheel Horse.
How did you go about building the collection? – Early on I just heard about them via word of mouth or dropping in at flea markets, shows etc. and just good ole drive bys. I now search via the internet, which opens up a whole new world of opportunities. Our oldest tractor is a 1942 model and the newest is a 2006. Some of the tractors I found were in pretty rough shape but that’s the fun part of the hobby, seeing if we can bring them back to life. Some of the tractors I buy are simply for the parts.
What does your wife Betty think of all this? – I think she enjoys it as much as me, she probably knows that if I didn’t have this to keep me busy, I would be driving her nuts around the house, so she is fine with it. Betty helps keep me organized, arranges for the exhibition tours, and is basically the “pretty face” of the business J, our kids and grandkids are also Wheel Horse fans (as if they had a choice!).
Do you have a favourite? – Not really, but if I had to chose one it might be one of my more recent purchases, a 1986 Wheel Horse 420 LSE Chromie model, it looks pretty spectacular. I bought it in Michigan in February this year in pieces, and it took about 4 months to restore her – re-chromed all 80 pieces, new leather upholstery, new paint, new mower deck. Fortunately the engine was in good shape and didn’t have to do much with it. It really caps off the collection. I have been searching for that one for a lot of years.
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