Several items were donated to the club this past year and are now in the AMC. One is a Buckeye Style “E” chicken egg incubator, complete with all of the test equipment. An old self measuring oil pump and a 1913 3 hp Ellis 2 stroke engine were also donated. As was a rare hillside horse drawn plow that was manufactured in Peterborough. This was made specially for turning soil on slopes.
By far the largest item donated to the club is a Bantam excavator. Perhaps inspired by visiting the Wheels and Tracks show this past summer the club saw that the machine would be a good fit at the AMC, despite its seeming construction, rather than agricultural, implications. And the story of its arrival at the AMC is every bit as interesting as the machine itself.
Last summer Earl had a call from Bill Bickell in Orono and he mentioned that he had an excavator that he would like to donate to the Hope Agricultural Heritage Club. After figuring out that this was not the Bill Bickell that he knew [there are several Bickle’s in the Welcome and Canton area – note the spelling of the name] and an excavator was not on his thoughts of an antique piece of equipment. First, this is a Bantam Excavator Model C450 ser#228 built in approx. early 1960’s. As yet, Earl has not acquired enough information to verify the exact date of manufacture. The company was founded by the Schield brothers in Waverly, IA. Bantam stands for powerful, despite its diminutive size. It also represents a bird iconic to the farm. The Bantam #1 was designed as a dragline, used for the production of lime for the local farmers. In 1953 a self-propelled unit was developed and by1956 the Bantam Company was the world’s largest producer of truck mounted power cranes-excavators. In 1963 the company sold to Koehring and 1987 Keohring was acquired by Northwest Engineering, now Terex Company.
Leyland Payne had a construction business and was the original owner of this particular Bantam excavator [one of the first hydraulic excavators in the area] and lived in Newtonville. Leyland’s brother was Carlton [father of Murray and Howard]. Leyland’s first daughter is Shirley Bickell [who is still living in Newtonville] and grandson is Bill [in Orono] and great grandson Bryan [3 time Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks]. Leyland had a steam engine that was seen in the Bowmanville parades and once in Port Hope. He also had a cable operated excavator that was used as a post driver with the bucket full of cement. Ray Martinell and Jack Mercer were employees of Leyland.
Bill mentioned that he would like the machine to stay in the area with the local history of the unit and the Antique Club, having the Antique Museum in Canton, was his choice. So after discussing with the directors it was decided the excavator would be a great acquisition but it was going to be a big undertaking to get the machine running [it had not run in 10 or more years, possibly 25]. The engine needed replacing, but Bill had a spare. Moving the machine to Canton [weighs 33,000 lbs] to restore and paint would be another project! I contacted Gord Austin [retired Roads Supervisor of the old Hope township] to see the excavator and see if he and any others would be interested in taking on this project. Gord and Stan King agreed and have since exchanged the engine, a Chrysler 318 industrial gas, and now the excavator is up and running after many years of slumber. Next is to free up the clutches on the drives, which are seized, and see if the machine moves!
At this time, the end of October, the excavator is running and moving! Eric Litz of Litz Excavating has donated his time and truck to move the machine from Newtonville to Canton. Anyone interested in participating in the restoration of this machine please contact me at 905-753-2387 or Gord at 905- 885-5810. I have several pictures of the Bantam and a video of it moving on to the trailer that will hopefully get to the website for viewing, if I can figure this computer out!
The restoration continues!
On behalf of the Hope Agricultural Heritage Club, I would like to thank the Bickell Family for their donation of the Bantam excavator to the Antique Machinery Centre. Also thanks to Gord Austin and Stan King for their interest in the salvation and restoration of this machine.
If anyone has an interest in old construction machinery, or knows someone who is, this is your big chance! The club is looking for some help in the restoration of this piece of equipment, something to be proud of and tell the grand kids you were a part of. Call Earl if you are interested.