Ted Billups EDGETA Branch 54

Ted Billups, and his wife, with Dick Tombrink
Ted Billups, and his wife, with Dick Tombrink

The members of the Lewis-Clark Antique Power Club, EDGE&TA Branch 54 of Lewiston, ID are honored and proud to submit the name of our long time member, Mr. TED BILLUPS, for consideration to be a member of the 2010 EDGE&TA Hall of Fame.

Ted was born in Winchester, ID and started his old iron career while still in Nez Perce High School.  He has continued working for the same company now for 65 years.  Ted and his wife of 64 years, Dolores, live in Grangeville, ID and raised their family of 2 girls there.

Ted is a remarkable gentleman who is 86 years young and is still working on a daily basis as a mechanic.  He served as shop manager for many years—-even later occupying it a second time when it was unfilled.  The younger mechanics in the shop adore and respect his never-ending knowledge, which he freely shares.  They also try to keep up with the work pace he sets– starting by 7:30 AM and quitting after 5 PM.  One of the other mechanics was overheard heard to say, “Ted has probably forgotten more than I’ll ever know”!

One of Ted’s first tasks as a “young buck mechanic” with Brown Motors (later renamed Bell Equipment) was to figure out how to make a 3 lunger Cat (RD6) steer easy enough for a potential customer’s wife to be able to drive—ie. pull the steering clutch levers. 

The result was the creation of Ted’s hydraulic booster steering system.  Note—this system was later fitted on all 3 lungers to make the steering clutches easier to pull.  Until you drive one without the booster system, you will never fully understand the importance of this development.

Ted’s knowledge of old tractors, especially Caterpillars, is quite extensive and few if any can match his knowledge.  Ted will tell you, “I like to tear them apart and see what’s inside”!  Ted has truly earned the title people hang on him of “The Tractor Doctor”!

One of Ted’s first restorations was a Rumley Oil Pull and since then he has restored over 40 tractors and engines, many of them unique and rare.  How many times does one see the following: (1) two sizes of Yuba ball treads sitting side by side, (2) a Trundaar (which was literally a basket case when given to him), (3) a Lessman, or (4) several models of Oil Pulls?  The list of unusual items goes on and on.  Although Ted’s heart belongs to Caterpillars—-John Deere, Case, Fordson, Ferguson, Oliver, MM and others mentioned and some not mentioned fill his stables.

Ted and Dolores are Life Members of the LCAPC, and every October they and their family has hosted our Branch 54’s fall potluck meeting for at least 12 years now.  This is an occasion when Ted and his “extended family” (The shop crew from Bell Equipment) help get his ever growing fleet of tractors out of the large museum buildings so one can be used for a eating and meeting area and all the tractors can be seen and heard run by about 150+ people who attend.  The shop-crew also cooks the hamburgers, which Ted and Dolores insist on furnishing each year.

Recently his collection of tractors and engines outgrew his main building, so a new 2nd building with just a gravel floor was added and is used mainly just for the crawlers.  Shortly after being finished, the building was anonymously affixed with a sign declaring it as “Ted’s Cat House” and it seems Ted is still wondering whom that “friend” was!  Ted and Delores have created one of the most interesting tractor museums on the West Coast and he has willingly showed his collection to an untold number of people, including visitors from England, France and Germany. 

Each fall, Ted has at least one new project completed and ready for “show and tell” at our Branch 54 club meeting.  This year we understand it will be a cross mount MM!  He always explains how he came upon each new project and what challenges he faced in its restoration.  Ted has transformed many “basket cases” into like new units.  His restorations are freely available for all to see.  Friends, neighbors and acquaintances that appreciate his restoration work have given him many of his units, which now total well over 40 units.  His friendship and help to so many over the years has been rewarded by additions to the collection that he has been honored to amass—-many of them quite unique and sought-after units.

The 4th of July each year, Grangeville has a parade and Ted gets his wheel tractors out of the museum and has them available for others to drive in that parade, as well as the parade at nearby Whitebird.

Ted is a humble man, but is always more than willing to share his knowledge.  One club member affectionately calls him “Uncle Ted”, even though Ted really isn’t his uncle—but yet Randy and many others would claim him as their Uncle any day!

To people whom have not yet meet Ted, we tell them you surely have seen him on TV—-as he “masquerades” as the Eveready Bunny!  You see, at 86, he “just keeps going and going and going”!

In summary, Ted Billups is a pillar among the old iron and agricultural communities and is a great worker, educator and PR person.  This is evidenced by his continuing to work at Bell Equipment on a daily basis.  Therefore, Branch 54 is truly proud to submit Mr. TED BILLUPS as our nominee for a 2010 EDGE&TA Hall of Fame award.