Tremendous Trio of Ford Industrial Tractors

A Minnesota man acquires three yellow-and-blue Ford Industrial tractors, which always seem to draw a crowd.

| September 2018

  • Ford industrial tractors
    Bob Bibeau's pair of 1964 Ford 4040 Heavy-Duty Industrial Diesel tractors. Though the decals say 4000, they are 4040s: Correct 4040 decals were not available when Bob restored the tractors.
    Photo courtesy Bob Bibeau
  • Ford industrial tractors
    The connection between Bob's pair of 1964 Ford 4040 Heavy-Duty Industrial Diesel tractors is shown here.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Ford 4040 tractor
    Rear view of Bob's Ford 4040.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Ford Industrial Diesel tractor
    Side view of Bob's 1964 Ford 4040 Heavy-Duty Industrial Diesel tractor.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Ford Industrial tractors
    Bob with his Ford 4000 (left) and the Ford 4040 (right) with the headlights and emblem above the grille. He doesn't know how rare the 4000 Industrial is, but he's never seen another one.
    Photo courtesy Bob Bibeau
  • Ford Industrial tractors
    Bob's 1964 Ford 4000 Industrial tractor. Showgoers are surprised to learn that the Ford Industrial tractors were painted yellow, Bob says. The old enamel paint on these tractors faded quickly in the sun, so when Bob repainted the 4000 Industrial in a fresh coat of bright yellow, he clear-coated it to protect the paint.
    Photo courtesy Bob Bibeau

  • Ford industrial tractors
  • Ford industrial tractors
  • Ford 4040 tractor
  • Ford Industrial Diesel tractor
  • Ford Industrial tractors
  • Ford Industrial tractors

When Bob Bibeau adds a tractor into his collection at his White Bear Lake, Minnesota, farm, it's bound to be unique, because Bob prefers unusual tractors — like those that make up his trio of 1964 Ford Industrials. "When most people think of Ford tractors," he says, "they think of Ford tractors that are gray and blue and old-style. Very few have seen the yellow and blue, which is one of the reasons I got the 1964 Ford 4000 Industrial."

He bought the 4000 Industrial in 1973 from Northern States Power Co. (NSP), Minneapolis. It came with a trencher on the rear, often referred to as a "trench hog."

"That's a tool they used before the Ditch Witch was invented," he says. "When that machine came out, NSP bought those and quit using the Fords, probably because you didn't need a separate tractor: They were 4-wheel drive, and they could mount the power cable that they were planting into the dirt on top on a spool that was provided. You couldn't do that with the Ford."

When he bought the 4000 Industrial, he says NSP had four others for sale. In hindsight, he says he wishes he'd have bought all five. "One reason is that NSP kept really good records on their tractors. Every time a tractor was brought into the shop, everything was written down: all the oil changes and repairs and anything else were recorded. When I bought this one, it had all its shop records."



Meticulous care pays off

After Bob and his father, Albert, bought the 4000 Industrial and got it home, they tried it out in the field. "Everything worked, though the digging of the trench hog was a little clumsy," Bob recalls. "It had a little flipper that pushed the dirt aside, and was a good little setup, really. But you couldn't hook anything else to the back of the tractor until everything involved with the trench hog was taken off. Unhooking and hooking up the trench hog took quite a bit of work."

Then Bob took it all apart, cleaned and repainted every piece and reassembled the tractor. To use it to dig graves for his church, he removed the trench hog, replaced it with a backhoe and added a front-end loader. He used it in that capacity for 14 years.