Holt 75 Tracklayer Back on Track

Jerry Towes' Holt 75 Tracklayer arrived in pieces, but now crawls like new

| December 1998

  • This Holt 75 is among Jerry Toews' favorites in the big gas tractor category
    This Holt 75 is among Jerry Toews' favorites in the big gas tractor category.
    Photo by G. Wayne Walker Jr.
  • It was love at first sight when Jerry laid eyes on this Holt, which he bought in Redding, Calif.
    It was love at first sight when Jerry laid eyes on this Holt, which he bought in Redding, Calif.
  • Ten thousand pounds of parts:
    Ten thousand pounds of parts: "When it all arrived, I was in shock," Jerry said.
  • The Holt's power is demonstrated by its ability to pull a 12-bottom plow.
    The Holt's power is demonstrated by its ability to pull a 12-bottom plow.
    Photo by G. Wayne Walker Jr.
  • The Holt was designed as an answer to the soft, rich peat soil of California's San Joaquin Valley
    The Holt was designed as an answer to the soft, rich peat soil of California's San Joaquin Valley. Steel-wheel tractors tended to sink in; a tractor with better floatation was needed.
    Photo by G. Wayne Walker Jr.

  • This Holt 75 is among Jerry Toews' favorites in the big gas tractor category
  • It was love at first sight when Jerry laid eyes on this Holt, which he bought in Redding, Calif.
  • Ten thousand pounds of parts:
  • The Holt's power is demonstrated by its ability to pull a 12-bottom plow.
  • The Holt was designed as an answer to the soft, rich peat soil of California's San Joaquin Valley

In retirement, Jerry Toews has seen life slow to a, uh, crawl. And he couldn't be happier. A collector of steam engines, gas engines and tractors for 35 years, he has no difficulty picking out the prize of his collection: a 1915 Holt 75 tracklayer. 

"That Holt 75 is one of my favorites," he said. "I just like the way it looks. It's not like a traditional tractor - it's open. You can see all the operating parts. It's real primitive looking, but it's functional, a real workhorse. And I like the way the engine works: it has tremendous torque at low RPM. People think it's going to die, but it just continues to pull."

The Holt 75 tracklayer, of course, wasn't always picture-perfect. Jerry bought the tractor in California in 1994, and had it delivered to his home in Kansas.

"When it arrived, I was in shock," he said. "Doug (Doug Dauterman, the seller) had placed all the small, loose parts in a large aircraft engine container. The container of parts weighed about 10,000 pounds. And let me tell you, when you look at a tub of tractor parts that weighs 10,000 pounds, it is a bit overwhelming."



Fortunately, along with a mountain of parts came a parts manual, complete with detailed listings and illustrations of all of the tractor's parts. Jerry spent the winter categorizing parts, becoming familiar with the tractor. "It all started making sense," he said.

Although he's retired now, when he bought the Holt, he was teaching school. That meant he had the summer free, allowing him to clean and repair parts.