The sixth time was a charm for Fred Buckert. That's how many times the Hamilton, 111., farmer and old-iron collector tried to purchase a rare 1919 Indiana Silo & Tractor Co. tractor before he managed to corner his prize.
After years on the prowl - and a two-year restoration effort - Fred's elusive tractor now thrills crowds at farm shows across the Midwest. It was even named tractor of the year at the 2003 Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, as part of the annual event's 'oddball' tractor display. (Strangely enough, even though only 12 Indiana tractors are known to exist, two sat side-by-side at the show!)
Fred bought the Indiana tractor in Peru, Ind., in 1992, less than 100 miles from where the unusual-looking farm machine was manufactured in Anderson, Ind., by the Indiana Silo & Tractor Co.
Like many old-iron collectors who dream about owning a rare piece of America's agrarian past, Fred spent years trying to locate one of the elusive machines. He tried to buy an Indiana tractor several times during his five year quest, but without luck.
Fred's search led him to auctions in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio, only to return empty-handed.
When Fred finally located the tractor, it was in bad shape. Yet, its owner agreed to sell it along with a slew of accompanying implements, which turned a rare treasure into a real goldmine, Fred says.
When the deal was sealed, Fred went home with the tractor as well as a Syracuse Chilled Plow Co. sulky plow, and Oliver Chilled Plow Works implements including a potato planter, sickle-bar mower and one-row cultivator.
'Those implements were a rare find,' Fred says about his discovery.
Locating the Indiana tractor was just the beginning. Restoring it to operating condition was the next challenge Fred faced, but one he savored after so many years spent locating the tractor. Unfortunately, it needed total restoration.
'It was rough, you'd have to say,' Fred laments.
The tractor's steel was rusted and needed repainting, but its four-cylinder, 5-10 hp LeRoi-built engine was in worse condition. 'It would turn over, but it was just plum wore out,' Fred says about the engine before restoration.
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