When Dale Hostetter moved to Sycamore Springs in August 2017, he saw new possibilities everywhere. He was in a new community, with a brand new house, new neighbors and new opportunities. He had spent the previous 18 months mourning the loss of his wife, Mae, and was ready to start fresh. As he settled into his new home, he asked himself, “What have I never done before?”
Dale grew up on a dairy farm in Gap, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Pennsylvania State University, his career was in management for Agway Incorporated. By the time he retired
he was overseeing two-thirds of the company’s Pennsylvania agricultural business with 400 employees at 17 locations. He and Mae had visited Japan, China, Taiwan, Cambodia, India,
Argentina, Mexico, Germany and multiple countries in Africa. They often incorporated learning tours into their travels, such as serving on a People to People agricultural tour to China.
When he moved to Sycamore Springs, Dale began to explore the opportunities around him. He joined the metal shop, he says, “because I don’t know anything about metal.”
He bought a hit-and-miss engine at a sale. “I didn’t know how to run it, so I started playing with it, reading about hit-and-miss engines and talking to people who did know.” In the process, he
attended Rough & Tumble Gas Engine School in order to learn how gas engines work.
A while later, his brother asked him, “Do you want to buy my Allis-Chalmers G?” The tractor was rusty, dirty and needed some work.
“I don’t know why I wanted to buy it, but I did,” Dale says.
He purchased the tractor and moved it into his garage at Sycamore Springs. He took photos and careful notes about how the tractor was put together.
He spent more than a year restoring the tractor to its previous glory. He took it apart, piece by piece, and carefully cleaned it. After many phone calls, he found someone nearby
who could sandblast the engine and repaint it. Once that was done, Dale used his photos and notes to carefully put the tractor back together.
As he worked, his neighbors watched, offered advice and asked questions.
“I had to talk to a lot of people during the process,” Dale says.
Dale’s neighbor, Ed Blakeslee, owns Allis-Chalmers tractors in need of restoration. In the fall of 2020 Ed brought his Allis-Chalmers B to Dale’s garage and together they began to restore
it. After several months of work and lots of lessons learned, the two men completed the project in July 2021. Ed returned the tractor to his farm in Erie County and has since brought a
Farmall 100 to Dale’s garage.
Dale’s newfound hobby brings him great joy. He has shared his tractor restoration story at a Garden Spot Village men’s gathering and appreciates the opportunity to get to know his
neighbors better through his tractor restorations.
His next adventure? Video production. Dale recently purchased a green screen kit and looks forward to mastering video production. He dabbled in it previously, producing videos for his
church, but he looks forward to figuring out the best way to use a green screen to share new stories with his community.