Ten-Hut! Massey Ferguson 40 Military Tractor

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

| December 2016

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.