The farm equipment market is crazy, especially these 2021 used tractors values. Stories of empty dealer lots and long lead times for new equipment abound. Used equipment supply is also tight. This has been causing prices to soar, but not equally across all categories. This is especially true in 2021 for tractors and combines, which we broke down in our post last month. In this Tractor Zoom analysis we lift up the hood on a couple different tractor horsepower categories. Continue reading to see how the demand has been affecting the auction values.
Utility & Loader Tractor Values
We start our analysis with smaller farm tractors ranging between 40 to 99 horsepower. This utility tractor may not be the strongest on the farm, but it typically gets the grunt work done. In resale values, this category gets to flex it’s muscle with the strongest year over year auction value increase of any other horsepower tractor category. Data summarized below includes 40-99 HP tractors sold at auction for greater than $1K. June ’21 average sale price was over $12K. This is 45% above June ’20, and almost 100% higher than June ’19.
Row Crop Tractor Values
When looking at 2021 used tractor values, you cannot ignore the highly sought-after row crop tractor. Front wheel drive tractors sold at auction with more than 175 HP comprise this category. In a break from the smaller tractor trend, used row crop tractor average auction values are closer to flat year over year. The exception to this trend was seen in February when a number of low-hour machines were brought to market. This scenario is a great depiction of how desirable row crop tractors with few hours actually are. In January the average machine hours were 5K, followed by only 3.6K in February, and then back to 5.6K in March. The corresponding average auction values for those three months were $80K, $120K, then $83K.
The significant trend that the average prices or hours do not show is the shrinking supply of low-hour engines. Tractor Zoom is continually adding new auction partners to our community. This historically has almost always resulted in a growing database of equipment from month to month. Tractor Zoom’s coverage of the US ag auction market continues to expand, currently covering over 70% of all US farm auctions. Yet, for the first time ever, our monthly supply of row crop tractors has been lower year over year for two consecutive months.
Evaluating Future Values
Used tractor values still have time to surprise us in 2021. The biggest indicators will likely fall in August and December. If farmers need a new tractor for harvest, they will pay top dollar. At almost $6 corn, you cannot risk leaving that crop in the field. In December most farmers will likely have more revenue from grain than they’ve had in some time. Purchasing new equipment will help offset some of this newly found cash. Perhaps even paying a bit more for that low-hour tractor at auction? If you are interested in gaining access to fast and accurate used equipment values, reach out here and we’ll be happy to jump on a call.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written about a semi. Probably too long. Our auctioneer partners have listed some nice ones lately, but the timing never worked out quite right for me to write about it. It stinks, but it’s the nature of the beast, y’know?
But then Ross at Integrity Sales & Auctions listed this Peterbilt 359 along with a bunch of other inventory for an upcoming consignment, and the timing worked out pretty well!
So, let’s talk Petes! They’re the biggest player in the US over-the-road truck market, and they continue to innovate today! They’re a great American success story, and one that’ll be around for a long time to come!
Replacing both the horse…and the river!
Peterbilt’s been at this thing for a long time. 82 years, if you’re keeping score. Theodore A. Peterman owned a lumber mill in the 30s, and it was efficient enough that the crew often sat there twiddling their thumbs waiting for felled logs to show up. The typical methods of getting logs from the forest to the mill were pretty slow – either relying on a river to float them, using teams of horses, or using a steam engine. Any way you sliced it, it was slow. Mills are like trucks; if the wheels ain’t turnin’, nobody’s earning.
Despite the tough times of the Depression, T.A. Peterman decided to try something new. He had a source for surplus Army trucks, so he bought a few to see if trucks might do a better job. As it turned out…they did!
So, after a few years of success with this, Peterman sees an opportunity with a failing truck company and he jumps on it. He gets out of the mill business and leaves lumber in the dust, and buys Fageol Truck & Coach out of Oakland in 1938, and just like that, he’s in the truck business!
While Peterman only turned out 14 trucks in 1939, they were all his own chain-driven design. No more modifying old Army trucks and making those work. With the new company (called Peterbilt), he could now build custom models that could be sold to the public.
Which is exactly what he did.
Built with a pre-determined purpose
Peterbilt went from building 14 trucks in all of 1939 to building one every three days in 1940. Impressive growth for a guy who was all about the lumber business two years earlier!
Actually, there was a good reason for that. Peterman believed in the idea of researching first, before he built anything. There was no haphazard, “guess we got lucky” success. He sent his people out into the field. They did ride-alongs, and interviewed drivers. Before pen was laid to paper to design anything, the engineers knew exactly what the customer wanted – it was a requirement for a project to get off the ground!
Sadly, T.A. Peterman never really got to see the fruits of his labor. He lost a battle to cancer at age 51, and passed away in 1945. He left the company to his wife Ida, who promptly sold the company’s assets (but not the land) to a management group. The company continued to grow, though; they’d been filling military contracts as well as building civilian OTR trucks, too.
In 1958, though, they ran into a problem. Ida Peterman still owned the ground in California where the factory was located, and when shopping mall developers came calling with a heck of an offer, she sold the land. This left the owner’s group scrambling for new ground.
New direction…same purpose-built quality
Ultimately, the owner’s group never found the ground when Ida sold the factory ground to developers. Peterbilt ended up changing hands; a guy named Paul Pigott bought the company and built a brand new factory in Newark, CA. By 1960, trucks were once again rolling off of the assembly line.
Pigott owned, among other things, Kenworth. He brought them under the same umbrella company (Pacific Car & Foundry, later to be known as PACCAR), but let them operate independently. Basically, he bought Kenworth’s toughest competitor. Smart move.
Over the next decade, Peterbilt would continue to build dependable, high-quality trucks that would solidify them as a key player in a very quickly-growing market. One of the most successful early models was the 351, and it became legendary long-hauler. Eventually, it gave way to the 359, and later the 379 and the 389 of today. The conventional design is timeless!
The 359 was built from 1967-1987, and it was one of the most successful models Peterbilt ever sold – for three reasons (in my opinion).
They were versatile.
There was a ton of room underneath the tilting hood. I have yet to source an original dealer order blank, but the engine and transmission options were nearly unlimited. I’ve seen everything from a 6V71 Detroit to a 3408 CAT in these trucks!
They were light.
The Peterbilt 359 featured an aluminum cab and sleeper. This dropped weight, improved fuel economy, and resisted corrosion. I believe that you could even order the frame in aluminum too. The lighter weight was pretty important to anybody hauling super-heavy freight (produce, for instance).
They had style.
The shape of the 359 was almost immediately a classic. The lines are nearly perfect, as far as I’m concerned. When somebody says “truck” most people see a 359/379/389 in their heads.
I tried to get in touch with Ross at Integrity Sales & Auction, but I haven’t heard back from him yet, so my information on this truck is a little bit limited. However, I’ll tell you what I do know.
This particular truck is a 1984 model, and it lives in Merrill, WI (about a half hour straight north of Wausau). It’s got an 855 Cummins under the hood (a Big Cam, I believe) factory-rated at 300 horse. It’s a fairly low-option truck from what I can tell, too. It shows just under a half million on the odometer. Most of the day cab 359s I’ve seen have either a 9 or a 10-speed Eaton Road Ranger in them, and I’d expect the same here, too. I believe that at some point in its life, it’s been repainted.
At the end of the day, this is nothing more than a classic working Pete that’s seen its fair share of life. It’s got a few battle scars (the driver’s side fender, for one, and the bumper for another), but overall, it’s a reasonably clean truck that would probably do just fine with a small hopper bottom or a pup trailer. A 300 Cummins won’t leave you stranded, and it doesn’t really have the power to get you into a lot of trouble. Being that it’s mechanical, it’ll be pretty easy to work on, too.
What’s it worth?
I did a little digging in our Iron Comps database this morning to see how many Peterbilt 359 day cabs we had records for. In filtering the data a little bit, I came up with about 19 results over the last 3 years. Based on those numbers, coupled with the auctioneer’s description and the video on YouTube, I think this is about a $10,000 truck.
The Peterbilt 359 is an icon, as far as I’m concerned. They’re a piece of history that connects us to an era where being a trucker was a respected career. Everybody I knew growing up wanted to be a trucker and drive a good looking Pete or a Kenworth, because it was a noble occupation. Today, we have over 3 million long haul truckers in the US, driving over 175 billion miles every year. Truckers haul nearly 70% of the stuff that we buy every day! Sadly, the perception of trucking has slipped from a career to more of a “job” and that’s a shame.
If it were up to me, I’d do everything in my power to bring some respect back to the profession. Let’s bring back the dress code; Wranglers, boots, pearl snaps, gold-rimmed aviator sunglasses, and cowboy hats. While we’re at it, bring back cool CB handles, too (mine was The Jolly Green Giant).
Want a head start on all that? Buy this Pete…because there ain’t no feelin’ like Petermobilin’!
“Ugh…another SoundGard??? This is getting real old, Interesting Iron-guy…”
Yes, I know I’ve written about the 4430 before. Stick with me. The 4430 is kind of a supporting cast member for this week’s Interesting Iron. There’s a Volkswagen involved too, but we don’t have one of those listed on Tractor Zoom right now. 😏 (Believe it or not, we’ve had a few…)
This isn’t just a story about a guy named Chuck, either. There’s a very strong connection to the history of ag. He wasn’t just some random dude.
He was Chuck Pelly, the guy who designed the SoundGard cab. Pretty important to modern farming, right?
The Life of Chuck
Before we get to the story of the Volkswagen, let’s talk about Chuck for a minute. He’s a super-talented (and pretty darn famous) industrial designer. In fact, I’m just about certain that he (or his company) designed stuff that significantly impacted your life, at one point or another. More on that in a bit.
Chuck Pelly was born in the early 40’s, and spent most of his life in Southern California. He studied design at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and even as a young student, showed tremendous promise. In fact, before he’d even graduated, he’d designed two of the most beautiful race cars you’ve probably never heard of!
So how did a guy go from designing race cars in SoCal to designing tractors for Deere? Simple. He took a position with Henry Dreyfuss Associates.
Henry Dreyfuss Associates
HDA was a design firm founded by another noted industrial designer, Henry Dreyfuss, back in the 1930s. They took the term “long term relationship” pretty seriously, too – especially when it came to John Deere. Deere’s working relationship with HDA spanned (get this) 7 DECADES! HDA designed most of the two-cylinders as well as the New Generation tractors too. They were essentially Deere’s in-house design team.
When Pelly joined HDA in the mid-sixties, one of the projects that he led was the design of the replacement to the New Generation tractors…i.e., the SoundGard tractors. Specifically, his involvement was with designing the cab, but he also submitted some sketches for the actual tractor itself. I’ve seen one of them – imagine a six-wheeled 4430 with a stretched-out cab, and you’ll be fairly close. It was pretty wild!
At any rate, Chuck Pelly worked for HDA and John Deere up until the early 70s, when he struck out on his own, went back to Malibu and started his own design firm, DesignworksUSA, in his garage. Designworks has become a massive success since then, too, eventually being acquired by BMW! (They still own them, too.)
Like I’d mentioned earlier, Pelly and his team designed lots of things that you’ll recognize pretty quickly. Here’s a short list…
Ever drive a Steiger Panther? His company designed that.
Take a ride in a dentist’s chair? He designed one of those, too.
Remember the old Nokia candy bar style cellphones that we all played Snake on way back in the day? Yep, Chuck managed that project too.
…and the list goes on and on. Everything from Corvette seats to minivans and snowmobiles to mouthwash bottles – heck, Designworks even styled the Olympic team’s bobsleds for the Winter Games in Sochi, Japan a few years ago!
So what does all this have to do with a Volkswagen?
Well, that’s where we get back to the John Deere connection. One of Chuck Pelly’s projects in the late sixties was to design the SoundGard cab. He’d put months and months of hard work into the styling and layout, too. Designing something from scratch is hard work even for simple things, let alone complex things like the cockpit of a tractor!
The pressure was mounting, too. I mean, Deere basically said, “Look, we’re changing the way we think about tractors. Open stations are out, integrated cabs are in, and our next models need to change the way farmers think about tractors, too. You’re in charge of making sure that’s successful. Good luck, buddy! We’re all relying on you!”
I can’t imagine that kind of pressure. Can you?
At any rate, Chuck was adamant that when the SoundGard mockup was first presented to Deere’s top brass, it had to be in motion. It couldn’t just be a clay model sitting on a stand, or a scale model. They really needed to see what it looked like moving down a dirt road, y’know?
So, for this demonstration, Pelly and his team at HDA created the first model of the cab out of paper, cardboard, and plastic. They mounted it on a test mule, which Chuck was to drive out in front of all of Deere’s executives. But there was a problem…
Demonstration Day and “the incident”…
The problem was that while Chuck Pelly could do lots of amazing things…he wasn’t real skilled with driving a tractor. This was probably one of his first times driving anything bigger than a lawn mower, if we’re being honest. But since he wanted to present the concept in motion, he sucked up his nerves and pressed on.
And right there, with all of the head honchos from Deere watching, Chuck brings the concept out…and that’s where it all goes wrong in spectacular fashion. Somehow he lost control of the tractor, and before he knew it, he’d gone off the test track…where he promptly hits a Volkswagen Beetle in the parking lot.
It wasn’t a fender bender, either. He put one of the right rears up and over the hood of the Beetle! He utterly destroyed this little car…even punched a hole in the gas tank! (Which sent everybody running for the hills…)
I don’t know about you, but at that point, I think I’d have put that test mule in road gear, never to be seen again! 😂
Chuck figured that his career with Deere and Henry Dreyfuss Associates was pretty much done. Later on, while he was cleaning out office waiting for the inevitable…the inevitable never happened. Instead, the head of engineering popped his head in the door and made a verbal job offer.
The position? Rollover test engineer. 😂
It was all in jest, and thanks to some pretty level heads and good senses of humor, Chuck was able to keep his job.
In fact, even after leaving Deere & HDA to start his own firm, he maintained a relationship with the folks in Waterloo. And when BMW bought Designworks in 1995, who came aboard as one of their first clients? John Deere.
Brad and the team over at Tony Montgomery Realty & Auction up in Plainview, MN are sending this tractor off to a new owner at an auction on Tuesday, July 20, and it’s a pretty nice one! It’s a two-owner 1977 Quad Range with just under 5700 hours on a working tach, fresh Michelins on the back, duals, LED lights, a quick hitch, and a fresh oil change! The interior (which I believe is original) is nice and tight, and pretty clean too! Overall, a pretty clean example of one of the thousands of 30-series tractors that have farmed the midwest for 50 years!
The farmer who currently owns it has put about 1500 hours on it since he picked it up a few years ago. I talked with Brad this afternoon for a few minutes and he told me that this gentleman was really proactive in his maintenance, and if it ever needed anything more than the standard stuff, it always went to SEMA Equipment’s dealership there in Plainview where he lives.
What’ll it bring?
Based on what we’re seeing in the market these days, I don’t think $20-22K is out of line at all. There’s always be a market for clean, well-maintained equipment that farmers can work on – even when it’s 44 years old. This one checks off all of those boxes, as well as selling with new rubber and lighting upgrades. It’ll be a great tractor for somebody…maybe you!
If you’re a John Deere fan, you need to check out John Deere Evolution, the new book from my friend Lee Klancher and Octane Press. It’s 350 pages chock-full of John Deere’s history, and some utterly jaw-dropping photography! It’ll end up being a permanent fixture on your coffee table! It’ll be available on October 15, 2021!
Every now and then, our auction partners post stuff on Tractor Zoom that might be stretching it a bit. For instance, last month, an auctioneer listed an ancient tug boat. Last year, I remember seeing a few Corvettes, an RV or two, and a couple of restored Chevelles. Heck, I even wrote about a Ford Galaxy that Matt Maring sold way back when Interesting Iron was just an email!
But we’ve never had a hearse listed before. Yep, you read that right.
Made out of a tractor.
By a man called Harold.
Now, I haven’t done a ton of research on topics like this, but I think this could be the world’s only actual hearse constructed from a tractor. Furthermore, Harold didn’t use just any old garden variety Farmall or John Deere. Nope, he built it from a fairly obscure tractor that’s actually pretty interesting in and of itself.
He used a Thieman.
What’s a Thieman? (Pronounced “Tee-min”, by the way)
Well, it’s the last name of five industrious brothers from Albert City, IA who started the Thieman Harvester Co. in 1921. They built a variety of things – everything from silage harvesters to tractors, and even burial vaults. The main goal was to build quality products at affordable prices – a welcome relief, given the hardships that farmers faced in the 30s.
The tractor was the brainchild of William B. Thieman, the company’s president, general manager, and inventor. From what I’m told, he was the kind of guy who could see a concept in his head, build it in the shop, and then manage a product rollout. In 1929, he began experimenting with a tractor built around the idea of cheap, economical horsepower. It was pretty rudimentary, but after 3 years of design and testing, they began selling it in 1932. Thieman sourced most of the important parts from salvaged Fords; it used a Model A engine, driveshaft, and rear end. I’m not sure if the transmission came from Ford or not, but I know it had 3 forward speeds and reverse.
The Ikea method…before Ikea did it!
Thieman had an interesting model for selling these tractors, too; they were all sold as build it yourself kits (just like Ikea does today with just about everything they sell). For about $500, the kit came in a big wooden crate with everything needed to put the tractor together (including salvaged Model A parts). However, if a farmer wanted to save money and source his own parts, Thieman also sold the kit for $185 without a motor, driveshaft, or rear end. The instructions told the farmer to use a motor from one of the Big Three. That said, I’m sure that somewhere, some farmer probably pulled a Farmall four-banger from an F-20 and made it fit, too.
Because of the way they were sold, and because the engines were all sourced from the scrapyard, each Thieman tractor was somewhat unique. If you find one at a tractor show today, who knows what you’ll find between the frame rails? I’ve heard of flathead V8s being used, and as I’m writing this, I’m sure somebody’s wondering if they could shoehorn an old 5.9 Cummins under the hood…
Most of the $500 Thieman tractors are painted red like the one below. If you see one that’s painted another color, that was one of the $185 kits. As I understand it, those were not painted before leaving the factory.
By 1936, the Thieman tractor had gathered some steam. The factory in Albert City was running around the clock to put these kits together and get ’em out the door. When I say “around the clock”, I’m not kidding; Thieman never turned the lights off in the factory. They employed over 150 people at one point!
Thieman tractors were, for their time, fairly powerful. The Model A motor made about 40 horse, so that put them in a fairly good position – especially given the cost of the competition! Over time, Thieman added a few well-received upgrades; $123 would get you rubber wheels all the way around, $7 would get you an air cleaner, $9 would get you a combination drawbar, and $15 would get you a governor.
That last option – the governor – was money well spent, in my opinion. These are pretty lightweight tractors, and from what I’m told (I’ve never driven one), it was easy to flip the tractor over backwards if your foot slipped off the clutch!
The Thieman tractor also does deserve a spot in the history books for a mechanical innovation they put into production before anybody else. They fitted their tractors with a starter! No more spinning the flywheel to start the motor!
Sadly, Thieman Harvester Co. came to an abrupt end in the early 40s. Several of the five Thieman brothers passed away at a relatively young age; in fact, none of the brothers lived to see their 60th birthday. Furthermore, the war effort brought on a steel shortage, making it all but impossible for the small tractor builder to source materials.
At the end of the day, nobody really knows how many Thieman tractor kits were sold; most estimates are in the 4-5000 neighborhood. The company changed hands twice before it shut the doors for good in 1944. At some point, those records must’ve been lost or (more likely) destroyed. Either way, it’s a shame.
Thieman never set out to set the farming world on fire, because that wasn’t really what America’s farmers needed during the 30s. They simply needed to get by, and put food on their tables. Thieman tractors weren’t super-stylish, they were cobbled together using second-hand parts pulled out of junkyards, fencerows, and junk piles. But they helped many farmers through some awfully lean years when providing for a family was a struggle. Furthermore, the Thieman brothers employed hundreds of people around Albert City, and helped keep their town from being wiped off the map during the Great Depression! That’s a pretty noble cause in my book! (Even if the tractors did tip over once in a while!)
Harold and his hearse…
First, some video.
Harold Boquist is the guy behind this neat Thieman tractor hearse creation, and I chatted with him for a few minutes tonight after dinner. He’s a super-nice guy with a great sense of humor, as you’ll find out later on…
The first question I asked him was simply, “Why?” He said, “Y’know, my wife and I have watched old Westerns for years, and you always see the horse-drawn hearse in the funeral scenes. Well, this isn’t much different…just updated a few years!”
Harold went on to tell me that he’d been a Thieman collector for years. At one point, he’d had 10 of ’em! He sold most of them a few years ago at an auction hosted by our friends at Nixon Auctioneers. Over time, he’s whittled the collection down to just a couple projects that he and his wife have really enjoyed – this Thieman, and an Empire tractor (that hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to show you at some point in the future). Empire tractors are pretty interesting, and his is probably the most unique one left!
The Hearse Project
At any rate, Harold’s had a thing for Thieman tractors. The company’s ideology – helping farmers get by when times were really tough – is one that he really believes in. This particular Thieman was rotting away in a boneyard in Sioux City until he and his wife rescued it back in 2012. “It wasn’t much when we got it,” he said, “They put it on my trailer with a big forklift!”
The nuts & bolts of the build…
Over the next year, Harold transformed it from a basketcase to what you see here. “It really wasn’t all that hard,” he told me, “Thiemans are easy to modify, and the driveline is a pretty simple thing to mess with, too.” He lengthened the chassis by about 14-15″ so he could install a second transmission back-to-back with the first one. “I needed a lower set of gears so I could creep it up on to a trailer,” he said, “They’re not much for road gears, so if we were going to put it on display, we had to trailer it there. The extra gears really helped with that.”
He further explained that he swapped out the original tricycle front end to a wide-front axle to make it more stable (I believe that also came from a Model A). Once he’d built the frame, he turned to the cosmetic side, and the wooden/glass chamber. All of that is hand-built, and he even built a coffin and put it in the chamber!
Harold did all the work himself, from welding to fabrication, even the paint and cosmetics. He did a pretty darn nice job too, from where I’m sitting! This is a very well-engineered project! When I asked him what his favorite part of the project was, he said, “I think we enjoyed showing it more than anything. We really got around with this thing!”
In all actuality, though, Harold built this Thieman tractor hearse for his own funeral. Both he and his wife had planned on taking one last ride in it. However, as time went on, they felt that perhaps somebody else should enjoy it. Reading between the lines a little bit, I felt like maybe they didn’t want the next owner to feel weird knowing that it had actually served its intended purpose.
I get that. As a buyer, that might make me feel a little weird, too.
If you told me a year ago that I’d write a column about a tractor turned hearse, I’d have probably laughed at you. Yet…here we are! That said, I’ve learned to never say never. This must be one of the most unique tractors I’ve ever seen, and I’m really glad that I talked to Harold about it.
What’s it worth?
I couldn’t even begin to guess. Hopefully it’s worth a small fortune, and that whomever ends up buying it will appreciate it – and the story of it – as much as I have! Bidding doesn’t open up for another few days, and the auction doesn’t close until July 21, 2021, so there’s plenty of time for it to travel around the internet a little. It’ll be fun to watch it sell, and I know Harold will be excited to see who takes it home!
(I do have somebody in mind for this tractor. I’m not sure if he’ll bite on it or not, but if there’s one guy on this planet that really NEEDS this tractor…it’s a certain super farm puller who lives near Rossville, IL.)
For those of you who follow the NTPA Super Farms, here’s your clue. 😁
Although nobody knew it at the time, August 19, 1972 was to become one of the most pivotal days in John Deere history. Actually, it was a pretty big day for farming in general.
The Generation II tractors launched at Deere dealers nationwide on August 19, 1972. Four all-new tractors with a brand new game-changing design, and a new objective – operator comfort. These were the first tractors built with a cab in mind, and they did it right. The 4030, 4230, 4430, and 4630 coupled with the SoundGard body changed farming as we know it!
The 4030 was the baby of the Generation II line (a little like the 766 was to Harvester’s 66-series). It was a do-it-all tractor built to replace the 3020. Most 4030s were powered by a naturally-aspirated diesel 329ci inline six (more on that in a bit). Rated at about 80 horse, they worked well for smaller tasks on the farm. In total, there were 15,690 built from 1973-1977, and lots of ’em are still at work on farms across America. We see John Deere 4030 tractors at auction once in a while – according to our Iron Comps database, 29 have sold over the past year.
You said “most”…what’s the story there?
By 1973, gas-powered big tractors were on their way out. Deere was nearly certain of this, but they did offer a gas 4030 to see what it would do. I don’t think they had a lot of faith that they’d sell, though. They never sent one to the Nebraska Lab to be tested. Results were pretty predictable…it didn’t sell well. So, after building 222 tractors, they dumped the option.
And that’s where we get into this week’s Interesting Iron, selling at a Ruhter Auction & Realty consignment sale on July 14!
1973 John Deere 4030 Gas/Syncro/STANDARD
Steve Plambeck is the seller of both of this week’s tractors (and a friend of mine as well). When I talked to him yesterday, he told me that this might be the rarest 4030 on the planet. He’s well-qualified to speak on the subject, too; he’s a noted Deere historian, and has a heck of a collection of SoundGard-era tractors at his farm southwest of Grand Island, NE!
Deere built a total of 222 4030 gassers, 122 with Syncro Range transmissions. What makes this one hyper-unique, though, is that it’s a factory Standard configuration. No rock shaft, no 3-point, and a wide-swing drawbar! Steve told me that he’s never seen another one like this in all his years as a collector!
This 4030’s got a wide-swing drawbar, and that coupled with a factory rock shaft delete might just make this one a unicorn!
A collector found this tractor in North Dakota about 8-10 years ago, I believe. It’s changed hands a few times since then, but nobody restored it. That’s all-original paint and patina, which is the way I like ’em! It originally shipped to Taylor Bros, Inc. in Great Falls, MT. Based on my research, Taylor Bros incorporated around the same time this tractor rolled off the line. This is probably one of the first tractors sold at their dealership! The meter shows 3510 hours, and Steve’s kept it in good running condition. I believe he may have replaced the rubber and maybe the seat as well.
Can we claim it as a one of one? No. Steve hasn’t seen all 222 4030s to verify, and Deere didn’t keep detailed records during the 70s. That said…collectors talk. If there’s another 4030 gas syncro standard out there, nobody’s found it yet. So, for now, let’s call it 1 of 122. That’s rare as far as Generation II tractors go! It’ll be fun to watch this one sell!
1975 John Deere 4030 Diesel/Syncro/Factory Convertible Front End/Soundgard Cab
Boy, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?
When’s the last time you saw a tricycle with a SoundGard? Definitely not something you see everyday. The best part of this one? It’s all factory! 4030s and 4230s could be had with either a Roll-O-Matic narrow front end (with one or two wheels) or a wide-front axle. The neat thing about the narrow-front option is that Deere’s engineers designed it to be converted it to a wide-front whenever you want! Factory wide-front tractors didn’t have this feature. If you ever see a narrow front like this one on a 4030, 4230, or 4040, it’s a safe bet that it came from the factory that way!
This tractor has spent pretty much all of its life in Western NE. It’s had two owners before Steve. The second owner hung on to it for close to 30 years before selling it to him.
This is a low-houred tractor, too. Only 5511 original hours! Steve says that it’s nice and tight, and drives really nicely too! It’s very clean inside, and the interior is a lot cleaner than a lot of 30-series tractors I’ve seen! It was resprayed at some point during the second owner’s time with it, and the rubber is fresh, too.
Overall, this is a really nice tractor, and it’s pretty rare, too. Like I said, Deere’s records from this era aren’t awesome, making it hard to know how many they built. But that said…there definitely aren’t many. I know that Tom Renner has a 4230 set up like this in his collection, I saw a 4230 like this sell at an auction in Missouri a couple of years ago, and there was a 4030 sitting on a dealer’s lot in Ohio about 10 years ago that showed up on AgTalk, but that’s about it.
Honestly, I have no idea what either of these will bring. Both of these fall into that unique category where there aren’t many comps. I’ll be really interested to see what they sell for!
One more thing…
If you saw a bunch of photos of really nice green tractors at a show over the past few days on social media, Steve had something to do with that, too. In addition to being a collector and restorer, he also sits on the board of directors for the Classic Green Society. Every other year, they host the Classic Green Reunion, and this past weekend it was in Columbus, OH. I couldn’t go, but I’m told it was a terrific show! Well-attended, too!
That said, I do intend to get to the next one in 2023. I won’t have anything to exhibit, but I’ll bring the camera and video gear and take y’all along for the ride!
Used combine values are a big concern for many this year. This is especially true going into the high demand August market with a tight supply of farm equipment. Just last week we saw a significant sale with Sullivan’s AHW dealer auction on June 15th. The listing was heavy with harvesting combines, draper heads, plus a few late model tractors and sprayers. This auction provides a great look at the market’s direction when analyzed with our Iron Comps database.
With over 60 lots of AHW’s equipment sold, we chose just a few significant pieces to test against the current trendline. Used combine values may be the most intriguing for dealers to look at now so they can gauge what the market may look like in August during prime selling season. For those interested in tractors, headers, and self-propelled sprayers, I’ll be diving into those in some upcoming analysis. The good mix of both Hagie and Case make for a nice brand comparison of sprayers!
Harvester sales at this Sullivan auction ranged from $61,000 for a 15 year old Case-IH 2377, to a 2018 John Deere S780 2WD valued at $288,000. In addition to studying these bookends, a 2017 S680 4WD was analyzed. It has relatively low hours and some bells and whistles worth looking at.
The 15 year old Case 2377 may temper an overly bullish outlook on this market. With just over 2,000K separator hours, this would have justified $55,000 based on the Separator Hours vs Price graph which trends 2019 and 2020 values shown below.
If you caught our 5 Trends for Equipment Dealers webinar last month, you will recall that used combine values had not yet seen the post-pandemic bump that tractors have been experiencing. Some of this delay may be due to the void of late-model machines on the market. This theory was tested with a relatively young 2018 John Deere S780 at the AHW auction, which brought the top combine value of $288,000. We will dive into that next.
John Deere S780
The entire auctioneers description for this S780 is as follows:
2018 John Deere S780 2wd combine, ProDrive trans., ContourMaster feederhouse w/CommandTouch 5 spd. drive & hyd. fore/aft, 28.5′ unload auger, PowerFold bin extension, chopper, PowerCast tailboard, Active Yield, 650/85R38 drive tires and duals, 750/65R26 steer tires, LED lights, premium cab, 10″ display w/AutoTrac, Turn Automation, Data Sync, Implement Guidance, In-Field Data Sharing, Machine Sync, RowSense & Section Control activations, 899 eng./640 sep. hours, SN 1H0S780SJJ0801614
Our Tractor Zoom database has a significant number of these S780 for a quality comparison. In the bottom bar graph below you can see a slight year over year average price increase in the S780 values. Because of all the variables in play we need to look at closer comparables to truly judge market movement. In the top graph, the orange square represents where this AHW combine ranks in terms of separator hours and sale price.
Our AHW S780 is on the top end of expected values for its hours when compared to the past three years. High, but certainly not an outlier. Below we drill down even further into a look at two specific comparables. The first screenshot of Iron Comps Auction Results surfaces the most recent sale dates and closest hours. This view indicates that used combine values may have hit a ceiling.
However this does not indicate the market is reversing by any stretch of the imagination. Below the next image narrows down the search to the two closest sep hour comparables. Both sold in the combine flurry that was last August of 2020.
You can see how much values have risen in just a year. From $249,000 average last year to $288,000 for this auction. A 15% jump!
John Deere S680
We have explored the top and bottom of used combine values in this auction. Approximately a 15% to 10% increase is seen, respectively, over last year. Let’s open it up and see if a mid-hour combine falls somewhere in between. A 2017 John Deere S680 4WD sold for $186,000 with just over 1,000 separator hours. Below is the full auctioneers description:
2017 John Deere S680 4wd combine, ProDrive trans., ContourMaster feederhouse w/CommandTouch 5 spd. drive & hyd. fore/aft, 26′ unload auger, chopper, PowerCast tailboard, bin extension w/tip-ups, 520/Interactive Combine Adjust, ActiveYield, LED lights, premium cab, 1,445 eng./1,071 sep. hours, SN 1H0S680SPG0795113
Comparing our S680 with other 2021 sales, the value is in line with others in the TZ database. A great comparison, pictured below, sold in late March of 2021 at a consignment auction in Minnesota for $200,000.
While this comp does have a refrigerator, the other options are similar and reinforce the theory that 2021 values may have hit a top and stabilized for now.
Iron Comps has the ability to filter by hours and auction type. Using this we can slice data to consist of only S680’s between 900 – 1100 hours sold at dealer auctions. Contrasting these historic equipment values, this AHW combine’s sale price exceeds 2019 and 2020 values by about 30%.
Used Combine Values in 2021
Big movements in used equipment values tend to coincide directionally with significant commodity price changes. With the exception of wheat, current cooling of the corn and soybean markets may be tapping the brakes on the rising used equipment values we have been riding over the past eight months. Another major factor at play will be the necessary demand of combines prior to this fall. Will a tight new and late model supply force prices even higher? Will downward pressure of the grain markets have any effect? To answer these questions keep your Iron Comps app open and your eyes on the most recent sales!
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time (or you got here because of the email), you know that I’ve been a fan of tractor pulling since I was 8 years old. So, when Wasted Nights showed up on Allen Henslin’s auction for Jeff Janke this week, I was pretty excited. Finally, a pulling tractor to write about!
Wasted Nights is a mod with a good storyline, and a neat connection to a county fair staple from the 80s. More on that in a minute…
Back in the late 90s, Gene Brend and Jeff Janke partnered up on this tractor, which came from a couple of local truck pullers who weren’t doing anything with it. They repainted it, got it into shape, and campaigned it pretty successfully for about 15 years! As Gene was a die-hard Chevy mechanic, and it always sported a big block – usually a 454 punched out to about 477 cubes. Bowtie power won three points championships in the 6200 pound Limited Mod class with the Central Minnesota Pullers with it too! in the 6200 pound Limited Mod and 6500 pound Mod class. I talked to Jeff this morning for about a half hour, and it sounds like he and Gene had a lot of fun with it! They won three points championships with it, too!
Sadly, Gene had some health problems and had to park the tractor. It’s been a while since the tractor has gone down the track – probably 7 or 8 years (maybe more). He’d always had plans to get it back together after his health improved, but unfortunately the health problems got worse. Sadly, Gene passed away in 2019. Before he passed away, though, he left the tractor to Jeff. He told him, “Get it running again and go have fun with it, or get it in the hands of someone who’ll continue with what we started.”
Jeff recently got it back together for this auction. His intent is to give most of the proceeds of the sale to Gene’s kids.
The Wasted Nights mod was really built for the 6200 pound Limited Mod classes in central and western Minnesota. However, it also was pretty darn competitive in the 6500 pound classes when they weighted up.
Today, I believe the class is allowed a 530 cubic inch V8 on gas or alcohol, with one carb, and (this was a new one for me) a single stage of nitrous. Back when Wasted Nights was regularly competing, though, the cube limit was 485. Jeff put it back together using those rules. It’s got a fresh 454 in it, aluminum ‘Vette heads, and a Holley 1050 Dominator on top. It’s also jetted for nitrous, but it’s not currently installed. Gene always figured that the motor was good for 900 horsepower. I got the feeling from Jeff that Gene’s number might’ve been a little optimistic, but with a little tuning, I’m sure it’s within reach.
On the chassis/driveline side, it’s got a planetary rear end setup from a Ford log skidder. The power transfers through a Turbo 400 transmission. In that class, that’s a fairly bulletproof combo. I know the chassis is solid, and it hooks up to the track really well.
What it needs
Overall, Wasted Nights has good bones. Most importantly, it’s got a good chassis that hooks. You can have the best motor and driveline in the world, but if the chassis isn’t right, none of it’ll do you any good. That said, there are a few things that need some attention before you can go waste nights of your own on the track!
Jeff has most of the wiring finished, but I know he didn’t get around to the kill switch. There might’ve been one or two other things too – maybe the tach and some dashboard stuff.
The motor would definitely benefit from a trip to a race shop with a dyno. Pulling motors are pretty high-strung, and to run their best, you really need a professional to dial ’em in. Jeff advised that the heads should be re-torque’d, the timing should be checked. Furthermore, this motor has a pretty high-lift camshaft; spending some time finding the sweet spot with valve lash would definitely be time well spent. Aside from snapping a rod, breaking a rocker is about the most destructive internal failure you can have. A good engine builder can probably get this motor lined out fairly easily.
Lastly, I think I’d probably recommend giving the tires a once-over. They look reasonably good to me in the photos, but I’m sure it’s been a while since the lugs have been sharpened. Sharp, smooth lugs definitely bite the track better – and in the sport of inches…you take every advantage you can!
The County Fair Connection
So how many of you have heard of The Silver Bullet? No, not that one.
THIS one. The Coors Light-sponsored Silver Bullet “jumping combine”.
The Silver Bullet was the brainchild of a guy named Ernie Brookins, an event promoter from Fargo. At the time, Ernie and his wife Gail were promoting combine demolition derbies in the midwest, but Ernie had a crazy idea to jump a combine over a car Evel-Knievel-style as a promo thing for the derbies. What’s even better was that he got Coors to sponsor the build!
The “combine” was basically a tube-frame chassis, a big block, and a hollowed-out combine body sitting on top of it. Ernie would jump the 1450-horse monster during the intermission of his demolition derby shows. It was a weird form of entertainment, but it definitely got the crowd’s attention! It got the attention of Hollywood, too – in 1987, it was featured in a movie called Race For The Harvest!
Anyway, Ernie and Gail ran this combine all over the country for about five years, from 1985-1990 before retiring it and moving on to other ventures.
So what’s the connection?
Shortly after Gene & Jeff started pulling Wasted Nights, they windowed the block of the motor they’d been running. They were in a bind, because it was the middle of the points chase, and they needed a new motor in a bad way. Well, Gene made a few phone calls to some of his circle-track buddies in Fargo – one of whom had ties to Ernie. A day or two later, Ernie brought one of the backup combine motors out and sold it to them! They bolted it into the chassis and away they went!
Here’s the best part…some of the parts from that motor are STILL in the tractor today! Jeff couldn’t remember if it was the camshaft or the crankshaft, but one of ’em came from the Silver Bullet! I think that’s a pretty cool little tie to the past, don’t you?
What’s it worth?
I have no idea. Our Iron Comps database covers millions of points of data from all kinds of farm equipment, but I’m pretty certain this will be the only modified pulling tractor in it! It’ll be fun to watch this one sell on Monday, June 28!
Big tractors are cool in and of themselves. A Big Bud, though? That’s cooler than most. A pair of ’em? AWESOME. These big farm tractors were built for one purpose, and one purpose only. To be worked to death!
And as of this writing…I don’t think anybody’s ever been able to kill one from working it too hard, either. There’ve been a few that been destroyed by fire, and one got hit by a train, but that’s about it. (If anybody knows more about the one that was hit by the train, holler at me. I want to hear the story!)
Go Big (Bud) or go home…
In the early sixties, a guy named Willie Hensler owned a pretty successful Wagner dealership out in Havre, MT (pronounced “hay-ver”, by the way). They sold and serviced a lot of the big yellow tractors that farmed the great wide open spaces. Life was great!
Then Wagner signed a deal with Deere on December 31, 1968, and that changed everything.
That contract, although it was only for 100 tractors, effectively killed Wagner’s business. The fine print of the contract stated that they couldn’t build their two most popular models, the WA-14 and WA-17 – nor could they launch anything new – until five years after they’d finished building the green ones for Deere. At the time, Wagner was struggling, and they did what they needed to do to keep the lights on. In the end, though, that deal with Deere put them out of business. The Deere-branded Wagners didn’t sell well in the heartland, and the contract wasn’t renewed.
In turn, that also put the brakes on Hensler’s dealership. No new tractors = no new sales. Suddenly, Willie had to figure out what to do. Without sales revenue, they weren’t going to be around for very long. Relying on service dollars wasn’t a good strategy, either.
Hensler wasn’t about to give up, though; one aspect of their service included re-powering Wagners in the area, and that was very successful. Thanks to “Big Bud” Nelson, the dealership service manager, they’d become known as the go-to guys if a farmer’s tractor didn’t have enough oomph for the field. After a bit of strategy in 1969, Willie Hensler and Bud Nelson formed the Northern Manufacturing Company. The goal? Build the ultimate Wagner. Repower them, overbuild the heck out of them, and sell ’em to Montana farmers.
The first model they built was the Big Bud HN-250. A “super-Wagner” if you will. It had a lot of Wagner parts in it, but the powerplant was a big 855 Cummins with a 12-speed Fuller transmission. Rated at 250 engine horsepower and tipping the scales at 34,000 pounds, this was a serious tractor!
Not bad for two guys and a welder, huh?
(Side note: My good friend Sherry Schaefer, editor of Heritage Iron magazine, had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Bud Nelson back in 2008. How cool would it have been to be a fly on the wall for that conversation? There’s a very good story in Heritage Iron’s issue #66 about Northern Manufacturing Co. and the HN-250 where she recaps a few of the stories from her chat with Nelson. For six bucks, it’s well worth picking up the back issue while they still have ’em!)
It didn’t take long for word to get out that there was a new player on the big tractor market, either. For the next few years, Northern Manufacturing turned out a dozen or so tractors a year. Big Buds were almost cartoonishly overbuilt, easy to work on, and used off the shelf parts that weren’t hard to get. Farmers had figured out that Willie & Bud were on to something; no wonder they never had an issue selling them!
Innovation through simplicity…
Perhaps the best innovation the company ever came up with was the flip-top cab. By essentially putting the cab on big hinges, a farmer could tilt the cab out of the way to maintain the engine or the driveline. That may not seem like much, but with gargantuan tractors, anything you can do to make it easier to maintain things is a big bonus. Later models would put those flip-top cabs on hydraulics, making it even easier!
Turning the page…
By the mid-70s, the company was doing pretty well, but Willie Hensler and Bud Nelson were getting older and wanted to slow down a little. Fortunately for them, Ron Harmon, a successful businessman in the area was there to buy the company in 1977. He continued the work that they’d started – and expanded it quite a bit. He knew there were more buyers out there, and over the next few years, he sold Big Buds to customers all over the globe!
1978 was a banner year for the company. That was the year that the Rossi brothers, big cotton growers from Bakersfield, CA, called Ron and told him they needed a tractor. The result? The 16V-747…the biggest farm tractor on the planet. It’s 27 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 14′ tall, and tips the scales at well over 100,000 pounds! It’s truly a monster! The Rossi brothers took the 760-horse tractor home and used it for 11 years or so for deep ripping in Bakersfield. It eventually ended up going back home to Montana to live on a great big farm owned by the Williams brothers, where it’s still earning its keep today!
The company stayed true to the original plan, too. They continued to trickle out massively overbuilt tractors that were easy to work on up until 1991. It wasn’t always an easy road; the last 8-10 years of Big Bud’s existence were plagued with financial issues caused by some transmission issues from way back in the late 70s. The downfall part is a story for another day, though.
The South Dakota Big Buds that you can bid on…
These two Big Buds – a 400/30 and a 525/50 – live on a great big farm of their own in Miller, SD (about 3 hours northwest of Sioux Falls). For many years, both of these big fellas were the primary workhorses for Darrell Wangsness’s row crop operation.
Darrell passed away in February of this year, so some of the details on these tractors aren’t real clear. I called Clay Keck (Dacotah Diamond Auctions), the auctioneer handling the estate auction for the Wangsness family this morning, though, and we did piece together a few details on each tractor.
Both tractors were completely overhauled (mechanically) about 15 years ago, but they’ve been sitting for about 4 years. That said, they’ve only got about 2-300 hours on ’em since, so they weren’t used much after the overhauls. They both fired up and ran/drove without issues. Still, it’d be a good idea to go through the belts, hoses, and anything else made of rubber to make sure it doesn’t need to be replaced. Clay did tell me that Darrell had over $60K in the rebuild of the 1150 Cummins in the 525/50! (That’s not surprising…it’s not cheap to overhaul KTA1150s! The two biggest complaints about those big Cummins motors is that they’re thirsty, and they’re spendy to work on!)
The 525/50 is the cleaner tractor of the two, but I’d say that they’ve both weathered the last 40+ years better than lots of other tractors I’ve written about!
Between 1969-1991, a total of 516 Big Buds left the factory in Havre, MT. And, with the exception of a few that were destroyed in fires and the one that got hit by a train, the majority of them are still working today! They’re virtually indestructible. That’s what happens when you build a tractor out of 1″ plate steel. You can’t hardly kill ’em. If the engine dies, you put some money into it and get it going again, and life continues!
Still, they don’t change hands very often, and there aren’t many to go around. The 525 was the most popular of the bunch, but they still only made 150 of them! The last one that crossed the auction block was an Ohio tractor, and that one sold for $78,100 back in February 2020. It wasn’t quite as clean, but it did have better service records. I’d imagine this one in South Dakota will probably come reasonably close to that price. My guess is that it’ll go to an internet bidder in North Dakota, Montana, or Idaho (or possibly Canada, if the border opens up soon).
As for the 400/30…your guess is as good as mine. I did some digging earlier and I don’t think I’ve ever seen records of a 400/30 changing hands at an auction – not within the last 10 or 15 years, anyway! I don’t want to even hazard a guess as to what that’ll sell for!
Honestly, these tractors have a somewhat limited market. To use one of these big guys properly, you really have to have big acres and use great big tillage equipment. That’s why a lot of these tractors end up heading home to the great wide when they change hands. Still, while the bidder pool is a little smaller, that doesn’t mean they won’t fight over ’em!
It’ll be fun to watch these Big Buds sell on Monday!
Back when I started this blog a year or two ago, I used to pick three (or more) interesting tractors to write about. Over time, I moved to a one-tractor column. However, if the past few weeks are any indication, I might end up going back to that 3-piece format! Our TZ auctioneers are listing all sorts of neat stuff these days! It’s tough to choose a single tractor lately!
So this week, it’s three (or four, or nine, depending on how you look at it) neat tractors. A Gold Demo 826 from Michigan, a hay maker from Minnesota, and seven weird-lookin’ orange ones from New York and Kentucky! Let’s get to it!
In 1970, Harvester’s marketing department rolled out the Gold Demonstrator promo to help push sales of the 544, 656, 826, 1026, and 1456. A handful of each model were painted with gold paint (IH Truck Gold Metallic 4357, if you’re playing along at home) and shipped to dealers nationwide. During the promo, those tractors worked in fields all across the country, convincing farmers to upgrade machines.
After the promo, dealerships sold the tractors as demo units. The lion’s share of them were repainted after being sold (as was the case with this one). However, if the buyer liked the gold paint, some dealerships would forego the paint job. The folks in Melrose Park frowned on it, but it did happen from time to time.
Original Gold Demos are rare finds these days; they don’t show up very often. If you’re looking at one, make sure it’s the real deal! Look for IH 4357 gold paint on the underside of the hood and a black operator’s console. If you find those, check the serial number and make sure it’s a ’70. If you can check off those boxes, there’s a pretty good chance it’s a Gold Demo. I’ve looked this one over pretty carefully, and based on the photos, I think it’s legit.
The Allis Chalmers G is a neat little tractor in my book. They’re not super-rare, as AC churned out about 30,000 of them between 1948-1955, but they’re quite unique. The G is light (1300 pounds, give or take), so most of the weight was hung over the rear wheels so it wouldn’t lose traction.
Allis sold the G as sort of an all in one system, and offered a whole slew of row crop implements for them – everything from tillage to planters! They were held in place by a couple of wedge pins, so implements could be changed in about five minutes. Handy for small operations!
These little guys turned out to be REALLY popular on veggie farms back in the day, and you’ll still find farmers using them today! One of the ones on Wally Gilliam’s sale even has a 16′ boom sprayer mounted on the back!
Overall, these are still useful tractors that are easy to work on. Parts are still available for the 10-horse Continental L-head engine, as well as the gearbox (from a Model B). They’re usually fairly cheap to buy, too; I’d be shocked if these sold for more than a couple thousand bucks apiece.
I’ve got a buddy in Louisville who makes the greatest pickles on the planet, and one of these tractors would be PERFECT for his operation! Oddly enough, the auction is being held this Saturday in Louisville…
Jeremy, if you’re reading this…click here and BUY ONE!
The 986 was a bread and butter tractor for IH in the late 70s. They turned out over 20,000 of these workhorses between 1976-1981. It was the biggest of the naturally-aspirated models, squeezing 117 horse out of the 436 inch inline six. They were quite popular in the midwest as do-it-all tractors – especially with hay farmers.
Such is the case with this one. The owner was a die-hard red guy, and it was a big horse on his farm. He took very good care of it, too. I talked to one of Matt Maring’s guys about it yesterday, and while they couldn’t say that the 2458 hours were original, it’s a strong runner, and clean as a whistle inside and out!
I know most of these columns I write focus on rare tractors or oddballs, but that’s not the only criteria I use to find Interesting Iron. Interesting Iron also includes stuff like this 986…a clean farm tractor that’s been treated well. It won’t set any crazy auction price records, but it’ll bring good money when the hammer falls next weekend. There’ll ALWAYS be a strong market for tractors of any age when their owners take good care of them.
So, what’s the takeaway? Always take good care of your stuff. Maintain it properly. Treat it right, and it’ll treat you right when you trade it in or sell it!
There’s a bunch of interesting iron crossing the block over the next week. At the end of the day, I couldn’t pick just one, so we’re going to look at three of my favorites! Two orange ones in Kansas, and also a beautiful red one in Iowa!
If’n I had to guess, I’ll bet at least half of you had no idea that AC made a cotton picker! (And full disclosure…I didn’t either until a week or two ago when Mark Sullivan and I were talking about this auction!)
During the sixties, there were essentially four major players in the cotton harvesting market; International Harvester, John Deere, John Rust/Ben Pearson, and Allis Chalmers. Plenty of other farm equipment companies had pickers and strippers, but those four were the big players. The only one that had a unique design was IH; the rest licensed designs and technology from John Rust/Ben Pearson (including AC).
John Rust developed the first mechanical cotton harvester in the 30s. When he started building them, life in the Delta changed forever. In the mid-40s, Allis Chalmers licensed the designs and started building them in Gadsden, AL.
What you see here is one of the later models. It’s a two-row picker, and it essentially mounts on a D19 turned around backwards, with a D17 rear end. Very unique!
Evidently, these are fairly scarce. I talked to Josh VanTuyl, the farmer who owns it, and he tells me that it’s a 1965 model. Allis only built 30 of ’em that year, and this one is number 25. He bought it from the original owner in Arkansas, and he suspects that it never actually picked very much cotton back in its working years. It had always been barn-kept, and it’s as original as the day is long! All original paint and everything! The toolbox even came with some NOS spindles and parts!
It sells at Josh & Rick VanTuyl’s sale on June 8 in Kansas, hosted by our friends at Sullivan Auctioneers. With five days left on the sale, bidding is at $1200, but who knows where it’ll go? It’s definitely a piece of Interesting Iron in my book!
The 1206 is an Interesting Iron certified icon, plain and simple. Generally, they bring good money in any shape (even the ones in rough shape go for more than you’d think). This one, however, is not rough. Not at all! It’s ready to turn some heads at the next tractor show!
Furthermore, this Farmall has an early serial number, which adds to the desirability. According to the serial number, it’s the 87th one built!
The team at Sale Barn Realty & Auction will send this beauty home with a new owner on June 9th. This has to be one of the biggest sales Rick’s held in quite a while – the lot is absolutely packed!
This Two Twenty is another one on Rick & Josh VanTuyl’s sale in Kansas next week. The Two Twenty was the big horse row crop tractor in AC’s lineup for 1969. Allis rated it at 151 engine horsepower, and Nebraska-tested at about 136 horse at the PTO shaft. The factory in West Allis, WI only turned out 1865 of ’em during the production run, and this one sits right at about the halfway point.
It’s pretty much all-original, too. Josh told me that he’s the second owner, and he bought it from a farmer who didn’t have a barn to keep it in. It had a Hiniker cab on it, hence the difference in color. Josh pulled the cab off of it and sourced some original open station fenders for it. He used it for a little field work now and then, but it was always more of a toy than anything. “That one was my baby,” he said. If I had to guess, this will be the one that’s the toughest for him to let go of.
Mechanically, this tractor is rock-solid. Routine maintenance was never missed, and if it needed anything, it always got it. The motor is very healthy, too; Josh had it on a dyno not too long ago and it pulled 175 without even breathing heavy!
If you’re looking for a really solid example of Allis muscle right now, you’ll have to look pretty hard to find a better one than this Two Twenty. They say they’re only original once, and that’s the case with this tractor, too. All-original paint, and only 5248 original hours on a pretty stout 426! As far as I’m concerned, that’s Interesting Iron certified all day long!
I’d be pretty surprised if this didn’t get close to $20K or maybe even a little above. It’s sitting at $8750 right now, but with five days left, it’s bound to keep climbing!
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