Teaming up on Tractor Collection

Father and son solidify their relationship with a shared collection of 1970s muscle tractors.

| April 2017

  • The large and the small: The Swansons’ Spirit of ’76 tractors.
    Photo courtesy Bob and Kyle Swanson
  • Decals complete a handsome restoration of the Swansons’ Spirit of ’76 tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • New tires were part of the restoration of this Spirit of ’76 tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • After talking to the original owner of this Spirit of ’76 tractor, Bob Swanson discovered the tractor was the same one he’d seen 30 years earlier.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Swansons’ 1976 Case 1570 Spirit of ’76 tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • This International Harvester Cub Cadet Spirit of ’76 garden tractor is the only one the Swansons have seen. “It was a small garden tractor,” Kyle says, “but it was a real eye catcher.”
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Swansons’ 1967 Versatile 145. “You don’t see too many of these tractors around,” Kyle says. “They were worked hard, and few are left.”
    Photo by Nikki Rajala
  • The Swansons’ 1967 Versatile 145 – a component-built tractor – is powered by a Cummins engine.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Swansons’ 1070 Black Knight Demonstrator, after restoration.
    Photo courtesy Bob and Kyle Swanson
  • Case tagged this 1070 Black Knight Demonstrator for Brown Sales & Service.
    Photo courtesy Bob and Kyle Swanson
  • Bob says the Case 1070 Black Knight demonstrator tractor was the only modern Case painted black. That helped garner attention when it was being used in the field.
    Photo by Nikki Rajala

Want to cement a father-son relationship? Try a joint tractor collection. “Farming together and also running a cow/calf operation every day can result in some tension,” says 29-year-old Kyle Swanson, St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. “When things do not go as well as we like between us, we can always break the ice by asking, ‘Did you see the tractor I bookmarked on the computer?’ That most always results in us talking again, and work resumes as normal.”

Kyle and his dad, Bob Swanson, 61, also from St. Croix Falls, share a love for old tractors. “Mostly the big muscle tractors from the 1970s,” Bob says. “We’re always on the lookout for something rare and interesting to buy and restore. ‘Can we afford it?’ ‘How do we get it home?’ eventually becomes ‘Let’s go look at it. That doesn’t cost anything.’”

Once the two buy a tractor, they do deep research on the new acquisition for months as fieldwork continues. They check salvage yards and the Internet for replacement parts that will return the tractor to like-new condition. “The real excitement is reassembling it, adding a new paint job and decals,” Bob says, “and standing back, seeing the tractor all finished like the day it was manufactured.”

Go big or go home

A 1967 Versatile 145 is one of the Swansons’ particular favorites. The tractor was long abandoned in a grove of trees on a neighboring tree plantation. “For about 10 years, we’d see it every time we went down the road,” Bob recalls. “Watching it slowly settle down in the ground, overgrown with trees, I felt sad, as its glory days were gone.” Eventually, he feared, the tractor would land in the scrap man’s hands.

Meanwhile, every time Kyle ran into the tractor’s owner, the man offered the Swansons a shot at it. “You like those old tractors,” he said. “Why don’t you buy it?” In 2009, they did just that.

The tractor had a bad transmission, but the Cummins engine was free. With a new battery, diesel fuel and filters, it roared back to life. Luckily, a donor tractor was found and the transmissions swapped. A weak hydraulic pump was also replaced. “It also had decent tires, which we appreciated,” Kyle says. “It’s an easy tractor to work on, as it is a component tractor.”


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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