Where Do Old Tractors Come From?

The gleaming tractor restorations we see at farm shows and tractor pulls usually have humble origins.

| April 2007

Old tractors are fun! They pass by in parades all bright and shiny, their owners obviously proud. They roar down the track in antique tractor pulls, displaying far more power than they had when they were brand new. They sit in rows at shows and festivals, waiting to be inspected and enjoyed by people of all ages.

But did you ever wonder where these old tractors come from? Many are 50 to 70 years old. How could they look so good after all those years?

My job as a custom applicator takes me down lots of back roads in a four-county area. Several years ago, I spotted some old tractors scattered across a cattle lot. I contacted the owner, but he wasn't interested in selling. I kept his phone number tucked away in my wallet, and last winter I tried contacting him again. He had passed away, but his widow informed me that she would "love to get rid of all that junk."

We agreed on a price for five and one-half tractors, a mounted corn picker and a set of steel wheels. She told me the tractors had been sitting there for more than 20 years, so it wouldn't hurt anything if I didn't move them immediately. That suited me fine, since this was strictly a weekend project.

My next step was to call my son, Greg, who helps me with old tractors. I asked him if he wanted a half-interest in more old junk. As I fully expected, he did.

When fertilizer season started winding down and I had a little time for myself, I moved my Minneapolis-Moline 670 Super to the owner's farm so it would be there when we needed it. Our shop at work was put to good use during noon hours, as my co-worker, Steve Crowley, welded tongue irons on each end of a 12-foot piece of 2-inch pipe to use as a push pole, and rebuilt my boom pole, which had suffered damage in an earlier incident. Things were starting to come together.