| September 2002


MM restoration hinged on tracking down the parts

Bob Beltz of Ceresco, Mich., enjoys the challenge of restoring vintage tractors to prime condition, and although his restored tractors may be 'keepers,' he's not into personally keeping any of them.

He's restored three tractors, a 1943 Farmall B, a 1937 Oliver row crop 70, and most recently, a 1957 Minneapolis-Moline 445 -the featured tractor (and on the T-shirts) at the 2001 Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Association Show in Portland, Ind.

Every one has gone back to the auction block. 'Once they're done,' Bob says matter-of-factly, 'unless you show 'em (and Bob doesn't show), you can't really use them. They're too nice.'

Of the three, he says, the Minneapolis-Moline was the toughest to part with - and to restore, in particular because of the difficulty of finding parts. The tractor looked and ran 'pretty rough' when he bought it from a nearby farmer friend, Johnny Edmonds. The men had worked together at the General Motors Corp. plant in nearby Kalamazoo, Mich. For a time, they carpooled together, Bob explains, and Johnny talked about how he wanted to sell the tractor when he retired to Alabama. That stirred up Bob's interest.

'He'd put two new back tires on it for $500,' Bob says, 'and that's what he sold it to me for.'

The year was 1991, and Bob actually drove the tractor home, a distance of eight miles. 'It ran but it smoked,' he recalled, 'and the front end was all wobbly.'