Ten-Hut! Massey Ferguson 40 Military Tractor

A 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor adds a unique flair to crawler collection.

| December 2016

  • Mike Zins’ 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Mike Zins’ 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Mike Zins’ 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Mike says the sheet metal used on his 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor is much thicker than that used on farm tractors.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The inside of the rear fender shows the number 22, perhaps indicating which Marine group it belonged to.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Mike says the sheet metal used on his 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor is much thicker than that used on farm tractors.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The logo on Mike’s military tractor shows that the tractor was heavily used.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Mike at the wheel of his 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor.
    Photo courtesy of Mike Zins
  • The foot controls on Mike’s 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor are simple, making it easy for an inexperienced operator to use them. The lever in the center is the throttle. To go forward, push down on the right side of pedal; to go faster, push the center lever as well. To reverse, push down on the left side of the pedal. Another lever gives the option of high or low speed range.
    Photo courtesy of Mike Zins
  • Mike says the sheet metal used on his 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor is much thicker than that used on farm tractors.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The MF 40 Military Tractor has a 3-cylinder Perkins engine.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Hook holes on the MF 40 military tractor made it easy to load for transport.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The tag on Mike’s 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor gives basic information about the tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Crawler tractors are the biggest part of Mike’s collection.
    Photo courtesy of Mike Zins
  • The off-side view shows how straight the fenders are, very different from regular MF 40s, which had no front fenders at all.
    Photo by Bill Vossler

If you needed to build a tractor that anybody could drive, even those who have never used one, what kind of tractor might it be? According to Mike Zins, it might be one like the 1972 Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor he owns. And where can you find such a beast? At least one turned up on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota.

Mike Zins grew up in the small town of Nicollet, Minnesota, with a farm field about 100 yards from his family’s home. Next to the field was an orchard with apple, plum and cherry trees, all of which helped inspire his interest in horticulture. After graduating from high school in 1960, he went to the University of Minnesota, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in horticulture in 1964.

After military service in the U.S. Air Force and a brief stint at a wholesale nursery, Mike worked at the university’s landscape arboretum. Eventually, he joined the Cooperative Extension System and taught on the St. Paul campus. But it wasn’t all work. “Along the way,” he says, “other activities brought me in contact with new friends who like old equipment like sawmills, planers, tractors and tracked machines.”

By 2000, Mike had bought his first crawler: a 1948 Cletrac BGSH dozer that became one of several Cletracs and Olivers to find a home at his place. Then the collecting bug settled in, and things snowballed. He picked up everything from the smallest of the Oliver line (the OC-3) to the biggest machine Oliver built (the OC-18).



Always on the lookout for new additions to his collection, he picked up an OC-156 track loader in western Minnesota, where it had been used in a gravel pit. This large, 2-yard loader is very uncommon. Fewer than 100 loaders of that size were built. In the past, it was used to lay gas pipelines across the state. When Mike bought it, it was “used and abused” and needed help on everything from leaking hydraulic cylinders to a broken main rear bearing. Fortunately, friends made the needed repairs, and the crawler is back in business.

Out of its element

In addition to his crawlers, Mike has wheeled tractors, including a Massey Ferguson 40 military tractor. A pair of the tractors had been purchased through military surplus years earlier; this one was designated for use by the Animal Science Department at the university’s St. Paul campus.