The Moeller Moline Tractor Collection

The Moeller family's loyalty to Minneapolis-Moline tractors has resulted in a varied collection of common and rare tractors.

| May 2007

The story of Michael Moeller's collection of Minneapolis-Moline tractors is the story of how an entire family got hooked on one brand. "A Minneapolis-Moline dealership, Bernsen Farm Equipment, was located 5 miles from Rosebud, Texas, where my grandfather, Manard Moeller Sr., lived," the 33-year-old CPA says. "There was another dealer about 15 miles away."

Manard liked Moline tractors because they were heavily built, quality tractors that had a lot of torque and quite a bit of power. In 1950, he bought a Minneapolis-Moline ZA, a tractor with a single front wheel. "Ever since he bought that Moline," Michael says, "my dad and brothers and the whole family have been partial to those Moline tractors, both big and small." Michael and his family have about 30 big Molines in their collection, including some rare models.

"That ZA originally came as a gas tractor, but grandpa converted it to propane," Michael says. "Over the next 12 years, three more tractors were bought with factory propane. He never bought a diesel until it was his only option."

Michael says he's heard northern collectors say propane tractors in general are scarce, but that's not the case in Texas. "I'd say anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the 1950s-era tractors in Texas were propane," he says, "because propane was easy to get with all the refineries down here."

The ZA was used for general farm work, including stripping cotton. In 1972 Michael's grandmother took a picture of the tractor in the cotton fields. "That was when it was actually used on the farm," Michael recalls, "long before anybody ever thought of restoring it." In 1998, Michael's uncle, Lewis Moeller, restored the ZA, repainted it and converted it back to gas.

Raised on Moline

The family got Michael interested in Molines early. "When I was 3 years old, they gave me the only farm toy I had as a kid, a Minneapolis-Moline G1000 Mighty Mini Puller tractor," Michael says. "I still have it, though it's in well-played-with condition." He used the toy extensively in the dirt, pretending to have a plow and other implements.