Heider Tractors Are Three of a Kind

A rare trio of Heider tractors showcases the innovation of the Heider tractor line.

| July 2016

  • Marvin Stochl’s 1913 12 hp Heider B tractor, thought to be one of only three of these models still running.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A side view of Marvin’s 1911 12 hp Heider A. When he’s displayed the Heiders at shows, Marvin says, many people can’t believe “something that old is still running.”
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Marvin Stochl at the wheel of his 1913 12 hp Heider B tractor. “Before I get these tractors, I never look up to see if they’re rare or not,” Marvin says. “They are just tractors that I think will look good in my collection.”
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The rear drive wheels on the Heider A appear small, almost fragile.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Close-up showing detail of one of the Heider A’s drive chains.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • This photo of Marvin’s 1911 12 hp Heider A tractor shows the tractor’s radiator, and the chain steering common on tractors of this era.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • An early Heider in a North Dakota field in 1915.
    Image courtesy Richard Birklid Collection
  • The operator’s platform on Marvin’s 1911 12 hp Heider A tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Heider A and B tractors ran on gasoline, kerosene and water. One tank (shown here) held gasoline; the second held kerosene and water in separate compartments.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • This drawing was part of the patent application for the Heider A tractor that was granted in 1913.
    Image courtesy U.S. Patent Office

When it comes to collecting old iron, patience can be the biggest part of the puzzle. Take Marvin Stochl of Tama, Iowa. Decades passed as he waited for collectors to let go of tractors he had his eye on. For a rare, early Heider, he had to buy the tractor’s engine from one man, and then wait three years until the owner of the rest of the tractor would finally let it loose.

But good things come to those who wait, and that’s been the case for Marvin, whose collection includes three rare Heider tractors: a 1911 12 hp Heider A, a 1913 12 hp Heider B and a 12 hp Heider C built between 1915 and 1917.

Truly preserving the past

Marvin never left the family farm where he grew up. The house where he and his siblings grew up, starting in the 1940s, is across the road from his home. “A few years ago, I saw that raccoons were getting into the house,” he says, “so I told my sisters I should start working on it.” They decided to fix it up the way it was when they were kids.

Today, the house is home to its original cook stove, dry sink (using water from a cistern), cast iron bathtub and stool. “We had an outdoor toilet, but that rotted away,” Marvin says. “If we want water in the house now, we use the main pressure tank over here to get water over there. All I have to do is hook it up. People who go into the house can’t believe it, because it’s actually livable right now. It’s like a museum.”



That affection for the farm is the key to Marvin’s love of old iron. His collection numbers about 100 old tractors stored inside. He has 300 more outside.

Putting a package together

The first tractor produced by Heider Mfg. Co., Carroll, Iowa, made its debut in 1911. The small, 4-cylinder Heider Model A was a lightweight, weighing in at just 4,300 pounds. At that time, America’s farmers were looking for smaller tractors. This 8-12 model with a friction drive transmission, and the Heiders that would come after it, fit the bill.