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

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.