Antique Farm Equipment Treasures on a Wisconsin Farm

Don and Dolores Raspiller have amassed quite a collection of antique farm equipment over the decades.

| November 2015

  • Don and Dolores Raspiller’s Farmalls. The tractor in the foreground is a 1945 W-9.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • Dolores and Don’s collection includes 30 tractors and barns full of antique farm equipment gathered during the past 35 years.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • Don on his 1948 Farmall Cub. A real workhorse, the Cub was ideal for small acreage farms and served as a second tractor on many.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • A sure sign that farming was changing: an early Red River thresher alongside a McCormick-Deering Model 42 combine.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • Don at the wheel of his first restoration project, a Farmall F-12.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • Don and Dolores set out their tractors and machinery for public display from Wednesday to Wednesday every Memorial Day in May. “Some of our visitors are in their upper 80s and even 90s and they can’t get around like they used to,” Dolores says, “so we arrange the tractors and machinery so a car can drive right past the displays.”
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • Don uses a McCormick-Deering LA engine to power this two-hole corn sheller dating to the 1940s.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • A 1910 Litchfield manure spreader.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • This Farmall 560’s sleek and smooth styling gives no hint that development costs for this tractor severely crippled manufacturer International Harvester.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • At 75 years old, this ready-to-work Red River Special could still put in a full day’s work.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel
  • The corn elevator from the Appleton husker/shredder climbs over a Racine fanning mill and potato sorter.
    Photo by Larry Scheckel

Wisconsin is home to some well-known antique farm equipment shows, including the Badger Steam & Gas Show near Baraboo and the Rock River Thresheree in Edgerton, home of the 2008 world record threshing event in which 29 threshing machines operated at the same time.

The hill country of southwest Wisconsin also offers some old iron treasures. Tucked away in eastern Juneau County, a few miles south of Lyndon Station, is the Don and Dolores Raspiller farm. Don, his mother and two brothers, moved there from Somonauk, Illinois, in 1964. Don purchased a 256-acre farm. Five years later, he married his wife, Dolores. They are the parents of a son and two daughters.

Starting with an F-12

In 1981, Don tackled his first tractor restoration: a 1936 McCormick-Deering Farmall F-12 he picked up for $30. At that price, he figured he could afford to plow an additional $300 into the project. “It was in such bad shape, I had to buy another one for parts,” he says, “so I took pieces of two F-12s and made one tractor out of it.”

The tractor’s engine was stuck. Don took the head off, removed the spark plugs, dumped a bunch of penetrating oil in, let it set for a few days and then started pounding. “It budged a little,” he says. “Not long after, my brother and I unseized it.”



Look around the Raspiller farmstead, and you’ll spot plenty of implements to start farming in 1930s or 1940s fashion. All you’d need are a good team of horses and a few tanks of gasoline. To help out those horses, throw in a 1940 John Deere H that looks like it just came off the dealer’s lot.

“This tractor starts with one fling of the flywheel,” Don says. A visitor set the controls and sure enough, with half a turn, the Model H model popped to life. The Model H was produced from 1939 to 1947; 58,600 were built.



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