Antique tractor starts with a ‘bang’

Alan Painter of Brownsville, Ore., with his 1929 Lanz tractor, a German model that features a steering wheel that doubles as a crank starter and a cigarette-and-shotgun shell starting mechanism.

Alan Painter of Brownsville, Ore., has the perfect machine to get the Willamette Valley Ag Expo’s Antique Tractor Display “off with a bang” on Nov. 14 in the Cascade Building at the Linn County Fair and Expo Center.

Of the four tractors Painter, 77, will be taking to the Albany event, the 1929 Lanz Bulldog is unquestionably unique. With a removable steering wheel that doubles as a crank, the engine develops 15 to 30 horsepower running on “just about any carbon-based fuel” including kerosene or diesel.

The battleship gray German unit has red accents, massive steel wheels and a jet-black smokestack.

Painter demonstrated the 10-minute routine the Lanz operator must go through to start the tractor. He begins by placing a lit cigarette-like rolled paper into a slot at the front of the machine. He then loads a shotgun cartridge containing gunpowder into a slot leading into the combustion chamber and sets it off with a hammer.

It’s not the most elegant starting mechanism, but Painter says the machine will “run all day, even during lunch,” so startup is a once-a-day event.

Painter was born in Eng-land and moved to the U.S. in 1967 at the age of 27 to work at Boeing near Seattle. He purchased his Brownsville land to raise sheep and hay for their feed, and has been involved in the 17-year-old Willamette Valley Ag Expo for several years.

Painter’s Lanz will join 50-plus other antique tractors and related implements and equipment at the three-day Expo. He plans on bringing three other machines from his 65-acre farm. Those will include a 1931 4-wheel-drive 15/24 horsepower Massey-Harris; a 1950 40-horsepower Field Marshall and a two-cylinder, 25-horsepower 1959 Porsche Diesel Standard, one of only 125,000 tractors the noted German automaker produced.

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