Rare Trio of Gibson I Tractors
Rural Kansas man finds three Gibson I tractors that fall in line
A set of three: From the left: Gibson I serial #609, purchased by brothers Art Wilkens, Stockton, Kan., and Jim Wilkens, Atwood, Kan., from the Eldon Bright estate; Gibson I serial #608, owned by Bill Anderson, Superior, Neb.; and Gibson I serial #607, owned by the Tri-State Antique Engine and Thresher Association, Bird City, Kan.
Numbers have a way of adding up for Jim Wilkens.
Jim, who lives in rural Kansas, has taken a shine to Gibson I tractors. But he never expected that he'd come in contact with three Gibson I's with sequential serial numbers.
It all started when Jim and his brother, Art, bought a Gibson I at the Eldon Bright sale at Grantville, Kan., last spring.
"The body was fairly straight," he says, "but the steering wheel and exhaust were bent two years earlier when the shed in which it was being stored collapsed under the weight of snow. The motor was also stuck because of the water from the melting snow."
Art Wilkens had earlier bought and restored a Gibson D, and later a Gibson E. The line's roots held appeal for Jim.
"The fact that the Gibsons were made so close to home, at Longmont, Colo., sparked my interest," he says. "Gibson made between 50,000 and 60,000 tractors, which included eight different models. Approximately 500 Gibson H's and approximately 500 Gibson I's were produced."
The tractor was rare enough, Jim says, that he and his brother decided to have it professionally restored. Their choice? Bill Anderson, owner of Bill's Repair Shop in Superior, Neb.
"Bill happened to have a Gibson I of his own that he had restored," Jim says.
Later, the Wilkens brothers passed through Superior, dropping off parts needed in the restoration project. While studying Bill's Gibson, Jim noticed a similarity.
"I happened to look at the serial number of Bill's Gibson I, and noted it to be I 608," he says. "Our tractor was I 609."
Time passed. Later that summer, Jim got the call that restoration work on his Gibson was complete.
"We took our Gibson I to its first show in Stockton, Kan.," he recalls. "When that show ended on July 25, we loaded a load of tractors and headed for the next show at the Antique Thresher Show in Bird City, Kan."
"On July 26, I arrived at Bird City with our first load of tractors," he says. "I noticed a Gibson I out in the line of tractors, so, after unloading, I took a minute to to over and look at it. I wanted to see the difference between it and ours. It was equipped the same."