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LEXINGTON, MI --

Dale Hillman flips a switch and fires up the gasoline engine on his Centaur KV tractor.

"It's amazing the engineering that goes into them," said the Yale resident.

Amazing is the operative word. The Centaur tractors were built between 1935 and 1940 - before World War II.

Members of the Black River Antique Power Club had old tractors and other ancient agricultural machinery on display June 18 at the Lakeside A&W in Lexington.

"I like the old tractors, especially the ones that are rare," Hillman said. "The ones you don't see."

He said the Centaurs were used by railroads and road commissions for chores such as plowing snow and cutting grass.

Hillman demonstrated the hydraulic hand pump used to raise and lower the Centaur's blade.

"Working eight or nine hours on the road with this, you'd know it," he said.

Don Sherman, of Croswell, is the president of the Black River Antique Power Club and he knows as well as anyone how tractors can become an obsession.

"I've got nine, no, wait, 10," he said. "I've had as high as 16. I run out of room."

He said he grew up with tractors - and his blood runs John Deere green.

"The first tractor I remember driving was a Model 60 John Deere," he said. "I was probably 14."

He said the club has about 175 members and has been showing at the Lexington A&W for 10 years. He said the club will have a plowing day - where members can bring their equipment and work a field - at 9 a.m. Aug. 20 in Applegate.

“One of the big deals now is driving across the Mackinac Bridge,” on Sept. 9 for the annual Mackinac Bridge Antique Tractor Crossing, Sherman said.

Jack Mason works his 1955 Ferguson tractor all the time. He used it two weeks ago to plant corn in a deer food plot.

He's the tractor's second owner.

"It was originally purchased by my former boss's grandfather," Mason said. "He was a pepper farmer in Marysville.

"It's just a plain-old Ferguson," he said. "This was probably built in Detroit at the old Ferguson works."

Steve Bombard, of Croswell, was enjoying looking at the tractors and talking with the owners. His sister and brother-in-law, Peggy and Steven Stencel, own the A&W.

"I love to come and see the tractors," he said. "It's nice to see the guys bring them out."

Contact Bob Gross at (810) 989-6263 or rgross@gannett.com Follow him on Twitter @RobertGross477.

For more information about 9th annual Mackinac Bridge Antique Tractor Crossing, visit www.mackinacbridgecrossing.com.

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