Being Neighborly: Building an Antique Tractor Collection

An Iowa man built his collection around antique tractors he grew up seeing at neighbors' farms.

| August 2016

  • This 1957 Minneapolis-Moline 5-Star tractor is among the models Dave collects because they are the ones he remembers neighbors owning when he was a kid.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Dave says the sheet metal on this 1957 Minneapolis-Moline 5-Star was very difficult to remove, perhaps because of its automotive styling, which complicated attachment.
    Photos by Bill Vossler
  • This 1963 (or 1964) Minneapolis-Moline M602 is unique because it’s a diesel. Few diesels were produced in this model.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Case 350 is always a popular parade entry. “It’s unusual,” Dave says.
    Photo by Nikki Rajala
  • Many of the parts on the 1965 2806 Industrial International Harvester tractor are interchangeable with those of other IH models, so restoring it wasn’t as great a problem – though it was in terrible shape.
    Photo by Nikki Rajala
  • The Nelsons’ 1965 International Harvester 2806 Industrial is handsomely restored. “We don’t use tractor paint anymore,” Dave says. “Automotive paint is much better. It’s higher-priced, but it doesn’t fade, it stays bright, holds its color better and it’s easier to take care of.”
    Photo by Nikki Rajala
  • Because the 3-point hitch on this 1965 IH 2806 Industrial had seen little use, it was still tight.
    Photo by Nikki Rajala
  • Rear view of the M602 diesel.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Old Abe is still prominent on Dave’s Case 350.
    Photo by Nikki Rajala.
  • This M602 diesel was traded in for a Belarus tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A side view of the 1957 Case 350.
    Photo by Nikki Rajala.

Many collectors have a focus for their collection, ranging from “any at all” to “green only” or “red only” to “the ones we had on the farm,” and everything in-between. Dave Nelson’s rationale is a bit different. He started collecting tractors that his neighbors had when he was growing up. “Most of the tractors in my collection are those that were used around the Belmond area,” he says.

Dave, who lives in Belmond, Iowa, said his interest in old iron began at birth. “My mom said the first word I said, 63 years ago, was tractor.” He bought his first antique tractor — a Farmall F20 in 1972.

“We had farmed with Farmalls,” he says, “and since I was in college at Iowa State at the time, that was all I could afford.” Dave used the F-20 to rake hay; he had started farming in 1973, while still attending college. “My father-in-law owned an F-20, and he was also instrumental in my entry into this hobby.”

1957 5-Star Minneapolis-Moline

Dave added a Minneapolis-Moline 5-Star to his collection in the 1980s. He was glad to get the gasoline version of the Minneapolis-Moline 5-Star, as the diesels had a lot of trouble, he says. “When I bought this one, it needed quite a bit of work,” he says. “It had been under a corn picker, so it needed repairs.” He put new heads on it, sandblasted and painted the tractor. During the process, he had a revelation. “Eventually I found out I wasn’t that good at painting,” he says, “so I have someone else do that now.”            

Removing the tractor’s sheet metal was about the worst part of the project. “In 1956 and 1957, tractor companies were going through a phase, trying to copy the styling of cars,” he says, “but that made it so difficult to service the engines, and that made it hard to keep the sheet metal on. Fords had the same problem. Later, everything got kind of square and in one piece, so mechanics could take the sheet metal off and put it back on easier.”     

When Dave was growing up, a neighbor had a 5-Star. “We had Farmalls on our farm, but this neighbor had Allis-Chalmers and Moline,” he recalls. “When I saw that 5-Star years ago, I thought it was a pretty neat tractor.”


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $29.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $34.95.

Facebook Pinterest YouTube