How six G.E. Elec-Traks made it to Hawaii!
A while back, Bob McBroom of Kansas Wind Power shared with me an incredible story
of how he had actually crated up six G.E. Elec-Traks including a "NOS" I5 with a "NOS" double seat and a "NOS" front-end
loader on it in the 1980's and shipped them to Hawaii. My curiosity got the
better of me and always in search of a deal I did a little detective work and found the remains of those tractors are still
there on the "Big Island"!
Bob has been in the alternative energy business since 1975 selling wind turbines, solar panels and more. As part of promoting
this business he began to dabble in G.E. Elec-Traks picking them up when he could, restoring and re-selling them. He
received a call one day from Mr. Jonathan Tennyson who was already
famous for designing one of the world's first solar cars
that was sponsored by John Mitchell Hair Care products believe it or not. It seems the John Paul Mitchell company was now developing an
organic farm in Hawaii to grow ingredients for their
hair care products.
The farm was to also run strictly on alternative energy sources, specifically solar. They were interested in
obtaining some G.E. Elec-Traks to work the farm with and which would also be charged by the solar array. After a couple
conversations Bob began gathering up six tractors with a
variety of attachments that ultimately would be crated up and shipped to Hawaii.
Bob has always experimented with alternative energy so the G.E. Elec-Trak fit right in. He has had both an electric truck (which he
purchased from the City of Portland) as well as a propane based truck. When it came time to gather up the fleet for Hawaii, Bob
took his propane based truck from Kansas to Wisconsin to visit Bill Gunn and there loaded up more gear than probably ever should be
loaded on a pick-up truck and then headed back to Kansas. Unfortunately, the heater in the truck went out in sub-zero degree weather on
the way back. He drove as long as he could but with the temperature below zero he eventually had to pull over. Things then went from
bad to worse. There was only one hotel for miles and Bob got their last room. Unfortunately for Bob the heater in the hotel room was
also broken so he spent the night with every bit of clothes on him could possibly find and made the best of it until the morning.
Bob eventually made it home and built special reusable crates to ship the six tractors and accessories by truck to the west coast. With
the help of a neighbor's large farm tractor and loader they barely were able to load them into a truck. When they got to the west coast
they were shipped by boat to Hawaii. How they got them from the dock to the farm is anyone's guess. They were used for several years and
by the looks of the last remaining shell had even been modified along the way so they were indeed well used. Bob was told they had
connected two mower decks together in some fashion and dragged them behind a tractor as to have a 94" cutting path!
Today the farm is still in operation and still completely powered with solar energy. The McDonald family has run the farm for over 25
years for the John Paul Mitchell company. There is only one shell of a single Elec-Trak remaining, the rest have been disassembled
and the parts are currently kept under a tarp. The folks at the farm say they would welcome someone coming by and taking the remains
of what is left of the herd off the farm, they themselves have no interest in restoring them. It's too bad because it would be nice to
see at least one working tractor in Hawaii and an organic farm completely powered by alternative energy seems the most fitting place for it.
One of Bob McBroom's sheds back in the mid-1980's.
Some of the tractors pictured here ended up in Hawaii.
A picture of Bob's visit to Bill Gunn's home in Wisconsin.
He picked up among other items, a "NOS" I5 with a double
seat and "NOS" front-end loader.
A view of the "NOS" Front-end Loader. Bill Gunn's own E20 sits in the background.
An Elec-Trak with a dozer blade crated up and headed toward Hawaii.
Where they landed- John Paul Mitchell Systems Awapuhi Farm.
The organic ginger drying shed.
One of the guest houses available for rent on the farm.
The McDonald Family has run the farm for over 25 years!.
The only one of the Hawaiian Elec-Traks left.
The sides appear to be enhanced to accommodate larger batteries.
Piles of Elec-Trak parts under a large tarp.
The dozer blade from Bob's crate picture above still hanging in there.
Not in too bad shape really.