Veteran CarPorters know I’m fond of Gravely tractors. In fact, my first post about Gravelys back in 2005 generated the most comments of any since the beginning of the CarPort. It’s no surprise, then, that when I learned the Gravely Tractor Club of America was holding its annual show in Connecticut I made plans to attend. Held this past May, as part of an engine and tractor show put on by the Scantic Valley Antique Engine Club, it drew Gravelys from all over the northeastern United States and some from farther away.
Gravely gatherings are called “Mow-Ins,” although the Gravelys attending come with many, many more types of attachments. The most familiar Gravely to most people is the eponymous Model L, built from 1937 into the 1970s. Many of these have been converted to electric starting. These two-wheel workhorses evolved into the Convertible, Super Convertible and Custom Convertible models, before being joined by a range of four-wheel tractors. The largest of these had rear engines, the single cylinder 424 with Kohler power and the 816, which used a twin-cylinder Onan engine. Less well known is the front-engine 1138, and even scarcer is the Westchester, a Convertible turned into a front-drive four-wheeler. I had never seen a Gravely push rotary mower before, but they do exist (in fact they’re still being made).
It all began, however, with one-wheel tractors. Benjamin Franklin Gravely attached an Indian motorcycle engine to a push cultivator in 1911, and the eventual result was the Gravely Model D, called the “Motor Plow.”
Perhaps the most common Gravely attachments are the 30-inch rotary mower and the rotary plow, but there are larger mowers, even reel mowers, gang reels and sickle bars. You can aerate your lawn, fell trees with either a circular or chain saw, or configure your Gravely to cut cordwood. You can spray your fruit trees, chip wood, vacuum your driveway or make ice cream. There are many types of snow blowers, even a snow blade with a chain-driven slinger on the end. There are various scoop devices, this one originally owned by the West Virginia Division of Highways, and the four-wheelers can be equipped with hydraulic buckets or blades, some of them quite elaborate.
Some people have modified their Gravelys for more power. There was an aftermarket overhead-valve set for the Model L that nearly doubled the horsepower. The Kohler engines on the Convertibles were more powerful still, but that wasn’t enough for one owner, who fitted a Yamaha diesel engine.
In the afternoon there was a Parade of Power, showing off representative models, and showgoers also had the rest of the engine show see, which had a good representation of tractors, like this ancient Avery and a nifty little John Deere Model L, a tractor pull, some doodlebugs and a few cars. One of my favorite scenes was this little bus, made from a stretched lawn tractor and an old one-lung engine.
The 2012 Gravely Mow-In will be held this August in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Gravely guys, make your plans now.