One family travels far and wide for their Cockshutt collection.
As a boy, my neighbor owned a Cockshutt tractor. I liked how it looked and its history, so as an adult, I chose to collect and restore Cockshutts.
My first restoration project was a Cockshutt 30 I found in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, in 2007. It was in good shape—the tin was great and the engine ran fine. My buddy helped me strip it down, and he painted the chassis. The tractor also came with a comfortable Joy Rider seat. The restoration went well, and I was hooked.
My next tractor was a Cockshutt Golden Eagle that I found on the shores of Lake Winnipeg in Canada. I made the trip up there with three friends. The folks who were selling the Eagle were really nice and wouldn’t allow us to pay them for the tractor until we came into their house to have pie and coffee.
Once home, I discovered that the Eagle smoked when it ran, and the engine needed restoring. Thankfully, I’m friends with a mechanic and a machinist, and together we tore the engine apart and found a mess. The skirts on two pistons were gone, and we couldn’t locate any replacement parts. The sleeves were scored, and we called every corner of the U.S., Canada and England to try to find new ones. We finally sent the best sleeve to Los Angeles to have it reproduced. That was quite an expensive restoration.
By 2012, I had collected enough Cockshutts to take a few to tractor shows. We took a Cockshutt 20, the 30 and the Golden Eagle to a national show in LaGrange, Indiana. In 2013, my wife, Kellie, and I attended a show in Fort Wayne, Indiana. At that show, we were recruited to join the International Cockshutt Club’s board of directors. That same year, we traveled to a Cockshutt show in Athens, Ontario, with the entire family. We met Bill Cockshutt, the great-nephew of James Cockshutt, who in 1877 founded the company in Brantford, Ontario, that grew into the Cockshutt Farm Equipment Co.
My whole family has tractor fever. Kellie recently fell in love with a 1940 Cockshutt 80 in Nashville, Tennessee. My daughter, Riley, drives the 20. Our latest Cockshutt is a Golden Arrow, and it’ll be ready for this summer’s tractor shows.
The Bonnins display their Cockshutt 40, 30 and 20 (from left) in front of their barn.
This 1940 Cockshutt 80 gets a dusting of snow on the Bonnin’s Wisconsin farm.