Minneapolis-Moline Garden Tractor Preservation

Young collector-turned-businessman delves into Minneapolis-Moline garden tractor history.

| March 2007

Jay Stamm, 19, mines for long-buried nuggets of Minneapolis-Moline history. A 10-year-old's fascination with lawn and garden tractors has grown into a full-blown business for the north-central Kansas teenager. He restores prized relics, and he ships salvaged parts to Minneapolis-Moline garden tractor owners around the country.

And now, Jay is on a mission to help create a reference listing for serial numbers from the small tractors MM only offered between 1962 and 1969. The company's garden tractor serial number records were destroyed or misplaced when the company ceased to exist, rather than being preserved with other Minneapolis-Moline records at the Minnesota Historical Society. To date, Jay's collected more than 200 serial numbers from 24 states and Canada.

As the popularity of collecting the little tractors grows, Jay says, so does the importance of being able to authenticate a true Minneapolis-Moline from other brands made by Jacobsen Mfg. in the 1960s.

"If you don't have a serial number plate, you can't always tell whether it's an actual Moline or one that's just been painted Moline colors," he says. "Jacobsen built identical garden tractors for Ford, Minneapolis-Moline and themselves during the 1960s, with the main differences being the paint schemes, the serial number plates and their numbering sequences."

Jay gleaned some information from price sheets provided by other MM garden tractor enthusiasts. He's also trying to locate former MM employees who might know about the garden tractor records.

Raised on the gold standard

Jay followed his dad and granddad to Minneapolis-Moline shows from the time he could walk. When he was 10, he met Alan Goodwin, Platte City, Mo., at a show and saw his garden tractor display. Inspired, Jay saved his money. At age 12, he bought his first garden tractor: a decrepit 1965 10 hp model he found on a used implement lot near his Washington, Kan., home. "It ran, but the paint was really bad," Jay recalls.