Restoring Antique Tractors: From Hobby to Business

Father and son team builds business around passion for restoring antique tractors


| April 1999



Ken Peterman works on a 435 John Deere in his farm shop northwest of Webster City, Iowa

Ken Peterman works on a 435 John Deere in his farm shop northwest of Webster City, Iowa. The tractor sports a Detroit diesel engine and is reportedly one of only 3,500 built in the late 1950s.

Restoring antique tractors from scratch is old hat to Ken and Dan Peterman. This father-and-son duo has been restoring rare tractors and not-so-rare tractors for years, without ever advertising their business. 

Restoration work, a hobby which has been gaining speed nationwide over the past decade, is now providing a full-time business for the rural Webster City, Iowa, men.

Ken Peterman began tinkering with tractors 30 years ago. At first, he started restoring antique tractors for his own pleasure. Now, he has to find time to fit his personal projects into his busy work schedule.

Set on a small farm northwest of Webster City, Rusty Acres Restoration is a full-time enterprise. Ken Peterman says restoring antique tractors is more than just a sideline these days, as collectors and farm hobbyists are seeking out their restoration business to rebuild tractors from across the country.

"It is a big hobby right now," Ken says. "It is absolutely going bananas."

Ken began working full-time in antique tractor restoration after Iowa Central Community College closed its Power Farm Mechanics program, where he was an instructor.