Restoration of an Oddball 18-36 Gray Tractor

An 18-36 Gray Tractor, with a face only a mother could love, turns heads wherever it goes


| June 1999



Tom Mariska with family members, taking the restored Gray out for a spin at a local Pioneer Power show.

Tom Mariska with family members, taking the restored Gray out for a spin at a local Pioneer Power show.

Most tractor collectors pick new treasures based on good looks. But when Tom Mariska fell in love with a 1918 18-36 Gray, it was a case of reverse appeal. 

"I liked it because of it's odd appearance," he says. "It's a very awkward looking tractor."

The Gray, manufactured in Minneapolis, Minn. (about an hour from Tom's home in Montgomery, Minn.), features just one drive wheel, five feet wide, with lugs all around. It's long, it's heavy (weighing in at some 6,000 pounds), and it's awkward to work with. And it's Tom's pride and joy.

"When I take it out to shows or parades, it gets an awful lot of lookers," he says. "It's just so odd; it's so different from any other old tractor."

Much of the tractor's problem, he says, is fundamentals.

"It was very poorly designed," he says. "It's real long ... it wouldn't have been a very handy tractor to have around the farm. The steering is very rough, very awkward, and it rides very rough on the road.