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Masts Give New Life to Model A

by Jerry Goshert

Published: Friday, June 16, 2017

Among the dozens of antique tractors participating in a tractor cruise-in last Saturday, there was one bona fide rust bucket that barely qualifies as a tractor.

Tom and Pat Mast of Goshen were at the controls of a 1931 Model A "Doodlebug" during the fourth annual Coppes Commons Tractor Cruise-In. The bland color of the vehicle—it's actually more of a car than a tractor—stood out like a sore thumb among the steady stream of red, orange and green tractors that paraded through the Nappanee countryside.

But a sign on the Doodlebug reminded folks not to judge: "Rust is a color."

The cruise-in featured more than three dozen tractors owned by members from three area clubs, the Nappanee Power from the Past, the Northern Indiana Johnny Poppers and the Echoes of the Past.

Tom is something of a Doodlebug collector, with a total of five in his possession. He purchased this latest model last year when it was little more than a bucket of bolts and scrap metal. Over the winter, he added enough steel to get it off the ground and equip it for parades and tractor drives. To say that he restored the tractor would be a bit of an overstatement. Tom prefers to use the term "rebirth."

Still, during last Saturday's cruise-in, which was a fundraiser for United Cancer of Elkhart County, the Doodlebug couldn't make the entire journey without help from another driver. Pat said the engine overheated and needed a tow. For most of the 10-mile journey, the Masts and their two granddaughters, Camry and Elle Zimmerman, did little more than soak up the sunshine.

Camry and Elle are both involved in 4-H and love to drive tractors. The Mast family attends many antique tractor exhibitions each year, including the Northeast Indiana Steam and Gas Show in LaGrange and the Florida Flywheelers Show.

Back home, the Masts have a collection of International tractors that look and run the way tractors should. They rode these heritage vehicles last month during a Memorial Day tractor cruise that went from Goshen to Bonneyville Mill County Park.

Having a good time was pretty much the theme of last Saturday's tractor cruise-in. After the tractors paraded through downtown Nappanee, all of the owners parked their implements for display at Coppes Commons. The Masts found a spot for their Doodleburg next to tractors that have better paint jobs and reliable engines, but they know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In their eyes, the 1931 antique is beautiful because of its rough edges and imperfections.

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