It seems that what we love as adult is the same as what we loved as children. After all of the compromises, lack of time or fatigue; the passions that still rise to the top are the same passions we had as children.
Bob Rock of Pewano, Michigan has such a passion. Rock was given his first Wheel Horse garden tractor when he was only ten. The little tractor was a gift from his uncle which started a passion which remains constant after nearly four decades.
Bob Rock followed his passion for garden tractors around the country to shows which featured Wheel Horse tractors along with other models. Rock imagined what a four wheel drive version of a Wheel Horse garden tractor look like. Bob Rock has a history of fabrication, automotive painting and all things mechanical so this Wheel Horse daydream was soon married to an action.
The first Wheel Horse four wheel drive tractor left Rock’s shop in 2001, He took it to shows for several year and then left it outside the shop with a “for sale” sign in 2008. It was sold one hour after initial display.
A light went on in Bob Rock’s mind the day his first creation sold so quickly. He began to build more. Rock’s creations were carefully made with real professional standards and nice fit and finish. The four wheel drive Wheel Horse four wheel drives looked as if they designed by an engineer when the truth was it that Bob Rock and his eye for design. Rock expresses himself pretty well in steel.
Many of Rock’s creations have been sold and made their owners happy. Recently, Bob Rock wanted to try something a little bit different. He wanted more challenge and more freedom to create. Along came Josh Deavon from Pennsylvania who wanted a scale-built, from-scratch tractor. He pushed Rock into making this finely-detailed build. This is the point at which Rock began building “scratch-built” scale tractors.
These tractors take time to build so Rock has ushered only one of his creations onto the world’s stage; however the first model has made a huge impact. Rock’s Facebook site has constant visits and when I interviewed Rock he had just finished several phone conversations. He has other projects in motion and although they are all different, they all have similarities. Rock uses Case/IH transaxles so his tractors are hydrostatic drive. He uses a variety of engines including the new “Predator” engine along with some diesels. He offers two types of power steering to direct these articulated tractors, one a bit more sophisticated but also more expensive.
The first scratch-made, totally-articulated tractor from Rock and son fabrication is a Minneapolis Moline which, even in full-size, is a pretty rare chunk of American steel. Rock’s scale version of the Minnie-Mo is draw-dropping in detail and attention to fabrication. I first saw a picture of it on the internet and I could hear my heartbeat in my eardrum as its tempo increased. It is just that nice. The paint is done by Rob Rock while the lettering is created by Terry Dennis from Illinois. Bob has a young test pilot for his creations, his son Robert. The tractors are scaled for an adult however young Robert drives the tractors so Rob can record the test on video.
After you’ve seen the pictures of Rock’s tractors, you will want one-or at least you will want to kick a tire. For tire kickers, you should check out Rock’s Facebook page which is “totally articulated garden tractors. Rob’s Facebook site . If you want to dig a little deeper into ownership, please email Bob Rock at firstname.lastname@example.org. These tractors are made one at a time and each one is different so lead-time and price all vary. The garden-tractor based four wheel drives cost less while the scratch-built tractors are substantially more. They are also substantially heavier however they still travel well on a small trailer.
I always like to congratulate my fellow tinkerers who build amazing things in their shops. In this case, the passion born in Bob Rock’s young mind has amplified itself over time to something that is actually a small business and also quite cool. Good job, Bob.