It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a collection of WORKING high crop tractors that are this nice. The Jim Mills collection of high crop tractors was utterly amazing, but they were all sold at a Mecum Gone Farmin’ auction a year or two ago. I was there for that one, and they were GORGEOUS. However, they weren’t really working; they were all beautifully restored.
These, on the other hand…they’re field-ready. That’s a different kind of cool, as far as I’m concerned.
Now, before I forget, let’s get the basics out of the way.
Sale Information: Date: December 4, 2021 – 9AM Eastern Location: 12210 Loxahatchee Rd, Parkland, FL 33076 Bidding Format: Online & Onsite Auctioneer: Weeks Auction Co. Contact: Jeremy Weeks – 352.351.4951
Hendrix Farms: Farmin’ South Florida for nearly a century!
Tractors aside, though, let’s talk about the sale for a minute, because there are a couple of neat aspects to it.
This sale is in south Florida, in the greater Boca Raton/Pompano Beach area. It’s basically a 700-acre vegetable farm that backs up to subdivisions and Bimmer dealerships, y’know? For those of us who live in the midwest, it’s hard to imagine a farm with palm trees on it that’s 10 miles away from the beach…yet here we are!
The Farm Backstory
The Hendrix Farms back story is one of those great American success stories that farmers love. See, the Hendrix family has been farming this ground for nearly a century! Their dedication to growing high quality produce has always been stronger than their desire to cash in. They’ve never sold out, despite numerous offers! To put it in perspective, here’s where their land lies, relative to the beach.
At any rate, the Hendrix family is retiring from farming after all these years, hence next Saturday’s auction. As I understand it, they’ll still hold on to the land, though. I don’t know what the long term plans are for it, but I know that it’s not going to be developed. I think it’s probably more likely that it’ll be rented out to local growers in the area.
It’s been a good run for Hendrix Farms, and the retirement is well-deserved. They’ve got quite a bit of equipment crossing the auction block, including over a dozen high crop tractors! Let’s take a look at ’em!
Here come the high-steppers…
I’m sure that lots of you know what high crop tractors are, but in case you don’t…think tractors on stilts. For farmers who grow vegetables or tall crops like sugar cane, they’ve been a part of the landscape for years. Now that there are more chemical options for maintaining the plants, you’re starting to see them less frequently, but they’re still out there. Operations like Hendrix Farms still use them to this day!
They go by lots of different names: high crop, high clearance, hi-clear, hi-crop, etc. But, at the end of the day, they all follow the same basic recipe. Farmers with tall crops need extra ground clearance as to not disturb the foliage while it’s growing. Tractor manufacturers responded by building tractors with an elevated operator station, a front axle with drop spindles, and rear drop housings attached to either end of the back axles. The result is the same as I mentioned earlier; a tractor riding on factory installed stilts.
To find one or two high crop tractors on a sale isn’t super out of the ordinary, but this sale has 14 of them – 15 if you count the Ford 3600 that’s set up as a sprayer! That’s got to be the biggest bunch of field-ready tall tractors we’ve seen in years!
The Hendrix high crop tractors
Now, all that having been said, I’m a little light on information on these tractors for now. The team at Weeks Auction Co. is working on putting a full catalog together, but as of now, it’s not ready. However, let’s poke around and take a look at some of the highlights, and I’ll share the info I do have with you!
1966 John Deere 3020 Diesel Syncro High Crop
This 3020 is likely one of the less-common tractors on the sale. As best as I can tell after a little bit of research, I think this is one of only 284 Diesel Syncro High Crops made. For being in its work clothes, it’s in pretty good shape! (My guess is that it was repainted at some point; it’s real salty air down there…)
(I’ve heard/seen two numbers regarding 3020 High Crop Diesel Synchro production – 284, and 46. I think I feel a little more confident in the 284 number, so let’s go with that. Either way, it’s the only 3020 High Crop you can buy on December 4, 2021!)
Oliver 1650 High Crop
I didn’t have time to get up to the Floyd County Historical Museum this week to try and track down production numbers on Oliver high crop tractors, but it’s safe to say that they don’t show up very often. Aumann Auctions has had a couple roll across their block, and Mecum gets them periodically, too. Still, it’s pretty infrequent. This one will need a few things to make it right, but the sheet metal is pretty straight and I believe it’s all-original!
Ford 7710 High Crop
This guy. This guy is the real oddball. I’ve talked with at least five different guys who’ve had some experience with high crop tractors and I can’t find a single one of ’em who’s ever seen a 7710 high crop before. That includes Tim Weeks, a guy who’s family has been selling equipment in south Florida for over 40 years! Tim did tell me that the tractor originally came to the Hendrix family from an auction in Homestead, FL some years ago. He also mentioned that he’s looked it over pretty carefully and thinks that it’s a factory-built high crop – not an aftermarket kit. The rear drop housings and the front axle drop spindles all look like they were factory installed. (There’s a pair of Ford 6610 high clearance tractors on this sale with the same factory installed goodies on them, too.)
Very curious to see what this tractor will bring, and where it’ll end up!
1983 John Deere 4250 High Crop
This one is a pretty early production tractor. With a serial number of 2798, I’d say it had to have been built within the first month or two, and I’d imagine it’s probably one of the first 4250 high crop tractors Deere built. Looks pretty clean, too!
At any rate, there are lots more high crop tractors on this sale, and as far as I’m aware, they’re all working/have been worked within the past year or two. The neat thing about this auction is that there is some collectability to these tractors. They’re not my cup of tea – I’m not a fan of heights, and being an extra couple of feet taller on the operator station doesn’t appeal to me at all. I’m tall enough. I don’t need the extra ground clearance! It’s kind of a niche-y market, but it’s there.
The other side benefit of the niche-y-ness of the high crop market is that they oftentimes go for a little less than their row crop counterparts. Oftentimes the For the right type of collector, it could be a perfect way to get in to the hobby fairly inexpensively.
Based on what I know right now, I don’t see any of these tractors setting unbelievable record prices, but you never know! It’ll be fun to watch!
Other high crops selling next weekend…
Here’s a few more photos of some of the high crop tractors on the sale. Cool stuff!
The supply of planters has dropped nearly 20% at auctions in 2021, according to our Tractor Zoom data analysis. While they’ve typically been pretty easy to find at auctions in the past, that seems to be a thing of the past. As harvest wraps up and farmers begin preparing for 2022, the lack of planters at auction might mean we’re in for a bumpy ride over the next month or two. Buckle up, folks.
In Figure 1 below you see the percent annual change of planter volume at auctions was essentially flat between 2018-2020. For perspective, I also included changes for midsize tractors and combines. If you’re interested, Dan Bahe (one of my colleagues) and I will break down those markets in our webinar this Tuesday, November 23rd.
With 2021’s planter shortage, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a corresponding leap in price. That’s not the case with planter values.
Not yet. It’s coming, though.
We haven’t seen the busiest part of the Q4 yet. It’s around the corner, though. The market is volatile, thanks to setbacks that nobody could’ve planned for as well. You won’t find new planters parked at the dealership these days, and that’ll drive auction prices up. More than ever before, farmers need to be checking trends against most the recent data in a market like this one.
Auction values on planters have increased in 2021, even though the trend line looks like it’s moving downward. Q4 2020 planter values jumped over 29%, and they really haven’t gone down much over 2021. Now, as we come up on the end of year auctions, we’re predicting that Q4 numbers are on the way up – likely a fair bit higher, too. You can see this by quarters in Figure 2 below.
Planters typically have a seasonal sales pattern. Winter and early spring are the seasons where we see planters move the most. These seasons typically set the reference price for quality used planters.
That is, unless there is a shortage.
In this case, demand may not have been satisfied by springtime. Or more likely, farmers were buying early, anticipating a shortage (a la the toilet paper crisis of 2020). This can create an even more frenzied market. Furthermore, with commodity prices still sitting fairly high, these next couple of months could be a shelf-emptying rush for planter sales.
The 60s were a pretty good decade for Allis Chalmers. They’d had a very good run with the D-series rowcrop tractors. At the same time, they’d laid a good framework for the three-digit tractors starting with the 190 in 1964. Things were good…sort of.
However, life in the dealership wasn’t quite as peachy. The 3-digit series tractors were getting a little long in the tooth (the 190/190XT was over six years old by 1970). Even though they were good tractors, farmers saw them as old news. As a result, sales guys watched as former customers drove past the dealership to the competition. Dealers complained. They needed something new.
The 190XT was a great seller for Allis, but by the 70s, it was definitely showing its age. (It didn’t stop Allis from keeping the design alive for another ten years, but that’s a different story…)
And boy, did they get it. They had to wait until late 1972, but Allis answered.
Enter the 7000-series.
The 7030 and 7050 were the first models to hit the dealerships. They were a massively different, thoroughly modern tractor. It somehow mixed a softly sloped hood (a first in the industry, actually) with lots of hard lines and angles of the cab and made it work. They’re unique, and personally, I like that.
Well, from what understand, that tractor was a little too modern for a lot of dealers. They didn’t like the styling. Fortunately, they got over it pretty quick. It didn’t take long to realize that these tractors were cut from the same cloth as the earlier models. They had an all-new powertrain based on the 426, overbuilt components, great brakes, a hydraulic clutch, and a lot more.
Allis Chalmers expanded the line quite a bit through the 70s, adding multiple models to eventually cover 117-210 horsepower. At the top of the stack was the 7080, the biggest, baddest 2WD row crop tractor to ever roll out of West Allis, WI. Furthermore, for one year (1975), it was the most powerful 2WD rowcrop tractor on the market, rated at 210 horsepower! In 1976, Massey released the 2800, which was rated at 211 from a 640 inch Perkins V8. The reign was short-lived, but they’ll never be able to take 1975 away from the big Allis!
That brings us to the Allis Chalmers 7080 for sale at the auction in Storm Lake on Saturday…
The Lois & Ralph Cole Museum
A mile or two north of the Storm Lake airport, you’ll find the Lois & Ralph Cole Museum, and that’s where this Allis Chalmers 7080 lives right now. Ralph was a sixth-generation farmer who married Lois Clausen, a young lady from nearby Schaller in 1947. Together, they farmed side by side for many years. Lois had a soft spot for raising livestock (she’d shown several National Grand Champions as a teenager in the 40s), and Ralph loved the land that his family had farmed since 1886.
They’d always dreamed of having a museum to showcase what it was like for farmers back in the day, a testament to a lifetime of hard work. Sadly, neither of them would live to realize that dream. Ralph passed away in 2007, and Lois in 2010.
When Lois passed away, her sister Mildred made it her life’s work to build that museum. She was 80 years old when she started, but she was pretty dedicated to it. Over a period of about five years, Mildred worked with a contractor to put up a few very nice Morton buildings on the property. They would house the substantial collection of farm equipment from multiple generations, vehicles, and lots more! Almost everything in the museum came from either Ralph & Lois, or Mildred and her late husband George. There’s some neat stuff on the property, too!
Mildred opened the museum in 2015, and operated it more or less independently until this year when she passed away herself. Impressive, huh? Here’s what the museum looks like. Lots of good-sized Morton buildings, and they’re all pretty much full of farm machinery!
The Storm Lake Stampede
The Allis Chalmers 7080 is actually one of two ACs that Ralph & Lois farmed with. The other is a 7060. They both wear that big horse logo proudly on the hood – Lois actually designed that. It was a staple on most of their farm equipment, from what I gather.
The 7080 is pretty original, too. It’s been repainted at some point, I believe, but overall, it’s about as you’d have found it in the early 80s. It’s a low-houred machine, too. Just over 4000 hours on it! I’m told that it runs well, and aside from a couple of fairly minor issues (I think I see a door seal that probably needs replaced), this one is ready to go back to work!
I think there’s a mixup on the year in the listing – the serial numbers on these tractors were stamped into the casting just above the PTO shaft, but the cabs have their own serial tag. Sometimes that’ll cause some confusion. If it were a 1977 model, the belly would be a maroon color. In 1978 AC changed a few things on the model lineup – among them, black paint on the belly.
Here’s the 7060 that’s also on the sale.
What’s a 7080 like this one worth?
It’s getting fairly uncommon to see an Allis Chalmers 7080 for sale these days. It does happen, but they’re definitely not as common as a garden variety 4430, y’know? Our Iron Comps data tells me that this should sell for somewhere in the $7K range, but I think we might see this one go for just a little bit more than that. They didn’t make a lot of black belly 7080s (1225, if you’re scoring along at home), and they are still viable farm tractors in the right application. The 426 is a strong motor so long as you don’t beat the tar out of it all day long. It’d make a heck of a good baling tractor (it’s got air conditioning); probably a pretty good planter tractor too! At the end of the day, I could see it hammering home in the $8500-9000 range. I think Ralph Cole took pretty good care of his equipment when he farmed with it, and I believe this tractor still got a little exercise after he was gone.
It’ll be interesting to see what this one sells for on Saturday, as we start to inch closer to December when auctions really start to explode. We’ve already seen some record-setting prices this week. Will we see more with this sale? It’s possible!
Here are the details one more time. Happy bidding!
Online farm equipment auctions are a fantastic way to buy and sell agricultural machinery at a reasonable price. However, you need to be informed about the auction process to be successful. Let’s look at how online farm equipment auctions work and what you can expect from them.
What are Online Farm Equipment Auctions, and How do They Work?
Online auctions are auctions that take place virtually via the internet. Online auctions differ from traditional auctions because the former is made for convenience. The auction house website will list items in a catalog fashion, and buyers can click on them for more information about the item. Once a buyer sees an item that interests them, they can bid for it using their credit card information.
The bidding closes at a scheduled time. The buyer with the highest bid at closing is expected to buy the item. If nobody bids at or above the reserve price, the auction is closed without a winner. The winner and seller communicate to make arrangements on how the goods will be delivered and paid for.
Why Turn to Online Auctions?
As a bidder, you can place your bid from anywhere in the world.
With online auctions, you don’t have to travel from one auction place to another, so it saves you the money you would have otherwise spent on travel expenses.
Wide Variety of Goods
Online auctions offer you a lot of choices. Online auctioneers have extensive options in their catalogs. This wide variety of equipment allows you to consider the pros and cons of each type of equipment, and it increases your odds of landing the best deal and equipment.
How is Payment Made on Online Auctions?
As a buyer, you have many payment options, including credit card, debit card, money orders, escrow services, personal check, cash on delivery, cashier’s check. However, the different auction platforms accept different forms of payment.
Typically, most online auction platforms accept payment by credit card. Credit cards give you the most protection because they offer the option to seek credit from your credit card issuer if the product is not delivered.
You can also use escrow services to protect yourself from fraud. An escrow service will accept payment from you via credit card, check, or money order for a fee. The service will only release the money to the seller once you have received and approved the equipment.
How Do You Make a Bid?
As you venture into the world of online auctions, here are a few bidding tips to get you started:
Start with the minimum amount you are willing to pay. Increase your bid only when someone outbids you.
Do not place a bid that you are not willing or capable of paying.
For absentee bidding or pre-bids, put in the maximum amount you are willing to pay.
Read the rules of the auction house and understand your obligations.
How Do You Register For An Online Auction?
You must first register on an auction site before you start buying and selling items. If you are an auctioneer, please sign up here. If you are a bidder, please navigate to our site and click “Sign In” which is located in the upper right corner. The registration process is quick, and it will only take you a few moments. Be prepared to fill in your name, contact information, and zip code ahead of time.
Want To Get Started?
Online auctions are convenient and offer a large variety of equipment. At Tractor Zoom, we have collaborated with 500 auctioneers across North America to bring you a wide range of farm equipment at an affordable price. Register with us to take part in our upcoming auctions.
November and December are usually pretty busy when it comes to farm equipment auctions, and this year looks to be no different. End of year auction lineups are starting to pop up, and we think this year may be one like no other. Equipment shortages and price hikes across the board will inevitably have farmers watching Tractor Zoom like never before. (We hope so, at any rate!)
From my perspective, though, it’s always fun to see what rolls out of the barn as sellers get motivated. This week didn’t disappoint, either. There’s a lot of interesting iron coming across the block right now.
First things first (and this is for the purists); I know it’s technically a Standard, not a Wheatland. Put away the pitchforks and torches… 😁
The story of the -06 tractors is one of my favorite Harvester stories of all time. I wrote about it at some length here. Basically, here’s the gist. The 460/560/660 release in the late fifties was a colossal flop in the public eye, because bad news travels fast. It’s not that they were bad tractors, but there were a few early ones that had some issues with rear end failure. I fully believe that the problem was blown out of proportion, thanks to the telephone. Like I said, bad news travels fast.
At any rate, Harvester was a little salty about the whole thing, and it showed in the way they designed the 706/806. The top brass essentially locked the engineers in a room and told ’em not to come out until they had a recipe for the world’s toughest tractor. Clearly, IH had a chip on their shoulder and point to prove.
The engineers delivered, too. The 706 and 806 were built for business. By the time they hit the market in 1963, the fleet of test mules had been tested for nearly 75,000 hours.
Both tractors sold very well during their four year production run. All tolled, Harvester turned out close to 52,000 706s!
The rare one in Wisconsin…
The lion’s share of 706s were diesels. Early production got the D282, later got the German-built 310 diesel. Gas-powered 706s initially used the C263, but later on got a bigger C291. Horsepower for both was rated right around 89.
This one in Wisconsin is a pretty uncommon variant, though. It’s a very early IH (not Farmall) 706 Wheatland that’s gas-powered. Harvester didn’t make many of these at all. According to the seller (a noted red collector), this is one of 210 built. Furthermore, based on the serial number (1831-Y – it’s a factory T/A delete), it could easily be one of the very first Wheatland gassers the factory ever turned out! I checked the build records with the Wisconsin Historical Society and this tractor was likely built in the afternoon on April 30, 1963.
The tractor is pretty much all-original, too. Dual-speed PTO, wide-swing drawbar, no 3-point, and a single hydraulic hookup. If I had to guess, this tractor probably came from somewhere out west like North or South Dakota. 3864 hours on the tach!
706 gassers were known for being pretty thirsty tractors, but just like their bigger brother, they’re also pretty stout. As far as value, I’d imagine that this is somewhere in that $5-6K range. They’re uncommon, but that doesn’t always mean crazy high value. We’ll see what happens when the hammer falls on Monday!
BTW – If you wanted a complete set of 706 Wheatlands, there’s a 706 Wheatland diesel on this sale too. You may as well just buy ’em both together and be done with it. It’s easier that way, y’know? 😁
This is a neat little thing, as far as I’m concerned, and they played a pretty significant role in American history during WWII.
Meet the Ford Moto Tug. It’s a neat little tractor that Ford built for the government during the 1940s to tug aircraft around airfields as well as carrier-class warships. There were two models of these tugs – the BN0-25 and the BN0-40, but the only obvious difference was the wheels. The BN0-25 had a single rear wheel, the BN0-40 had duals.
They were based on the 8N for the most part, but with some fairly major differences. The tractors sat lower to the ground, and obviously the fenders and swoopy bodywork are different. However, Ford also added about 1200 pounds of plate steel to the BN0-25 and a whole bunch more to the BN0-40. Furthermore, they stripped the tractors of hydraulics and 3-point hitch in favor of a pintle hitch on the back. After all, these pint-sized tractors only had one job; move airplanes. Airplanes don’t need any of that extra stuff. Other changes included a handbrake (so a soldier could lock the tug in place on the flight deck in potentially stormy seas) and hydraulic brakes on the rear.
These little tractors were pretty darn handy, and they punched WAY above their weight class. That B-24 you see in the picture below? That thing weighs just about 33,000 pounds empty, and could weigh as much as 64,000 pounds when fully loaded!
The One in Ohio…
The yellow one in the photo up above is kind of a mashup of sorts. The serial number stamped on the frame indicates that it’s a BN0-40, but it’s got a few differences from what you’d expect one to look like. Below is a photo of a factory-accurate restoration (or close to it).
The two biggest differences that I can spot are that a) it’s missing the swoopy bodywork, and b) it’s not wearing duals on the back. There’s a few other things that aren’t quite what I expected to see with a military version, but for the most part, it’s all there. (It’s missing the full-sized rear ballast piece that normally sits between the fenders, too. In its place is what looks like a wooden toolbox.)
Why is it missing all of that stuff?
Ryan’s Theory…(take it with appropriate measures of salt)
I have a theory as to why this yellow one looks so different. Being that it lives in Waynesville, OH, it’s not far from Willow Run. There were a bunch of these Moto Tugs at the B-24 Liberator plant there, and when the war effort wound down in the late 40s, I think a lot of them were sold off as military surplus. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to hear that a small municipal airport bought it. Furthermore, since crop dusters and small aircraft don’t weigh anywhere near what a bomber does, all that extra weight wasn’t necessary. In my head, it’s completely believable that the airport’s house mechanic (probably some guy named Marv) yanked parts off of it to save weight and make it more fuel-efficient.
(To put it in perspective, a Cessna 172 weighs less than 2,000 pounds fully loaded with fuel. Using a tractor built to move a thirty ton bomber to move one of those around is a little overkill, right? It’d be like putting a 9620RX on auger duty!) 😂
Like I said, though, that’s just a theory. Take it with appropriate measures of salt! For what it’s worth, I did talk with Chris Simons, the auctioneer handling this sale, and he didn’t know what the story was either.
Without regard to whether or not it’s a complete factory-correct restoration, this is still a neat little piece of history. It also has one kind of fun little touch…the pre-cleaner glass jar has what appears to be a little bitty Farmall die cast in it. 😏
At the end of the day, the prevailing rumor is that there were about 10,000 of these little tractors turned out, but you’d be awfully hard-pressed to find another one these days. Some were sold off as surplus, but many were destroyed after the war. There are stories of these little tractors being rolled off the deck of aircraft carriers heading home from the war and buried at sea. Kind of a shame, don’t you think?
The market for these tractors is sort of limited, and I don’t think the final hammer price is going to set the world on fire. Since it’s not a complete factory-correct tractor, collectors may not give it much attention. There’s a plus side to that, though – it means that YOU might be able to pick it up for a few thousand bucks and have the most unique 8N on the block! Happy bidding!
This 1957 Harley-Davidson Servi-Car sells on Saturday. Here’s the details real quick.
Date: Saturday, October 30, 2021 – 10AM Mountain Location: 12223 Hahn Rd., Calhan, CO 80808 Bidding Format: Onsite-only. No online bidding for this one. Auctioneer: MH Bar Auction Co. Contact: Mike Heitman – 719.683.7235 (or email@example.com) Sale Bill: Click here.
A Harley-Davidson Servi-Car…as a milk truck?
Yep. That’s a thing, apparently (or at least it was). I’ll take “Things I never thought I’d see listed on Tractor Zoom for $100, Alex…” 😂
When Matt, Tractor Zoom’s Auction Success Team manager, showed this to me on Monday, I thought to myself, “Finally, a Harley that my wife will let me buy!”
Actually, funny story about that. I’m sitting in a hospital waiting room writing this; Kara’s having shoulder surgery this morning. About an hour ago, I was in the room while they prepped her, and the nurse went over post-op instructions. The last instruction she gave us was, “Kara, no major life decisions over the next 24 hours…” 😏
At any rate, enough about my life. Let’s talk about this Harley-Davidson milk hauler for a bit. This thing is pretty neat, and as I found out, these Harleys have a rich tradition in the company’s history!
Cracking the commercial market…
For years, Harley had tried to expand their product offerings to include something on the commercial side of the marketplace.
They’d had very limited success with a “motorcycle truck” in the teens. The Milwaukee post office used it for a year or two to deliver the mail. Truthfully though, I’ve seen photos and they looked awfully light-duty. Imagine an overgrown tricycle with a great big steel box on the front of a two-wheeled front axle. It didn’t look all that practical, and with a single rear wheel driving the contraption forward, it wouldn’t have been real stable.
It was only in production from 1913-1915, so Harley learned fairly quickly that this wasn’t the way to go.
This one was a lot more successful. It was a sidecar-based add-on that any regular Joe could buy for as-needed use. Essentially, it was a big box mounted on a sidecar frame that opened towards the driver. It would’ve been the ultimate paperboy’s delivery unit!
The Package Truck apparatus was introduced in 1915 and remained in production until 1957! 42 years is a pretty solid run!
The Harley-Davidson Servi-Car was by far the most successful of the early commercial products. This was the one where they got it right. Launched in 1932, it was initially designed for service stations and car dealerships. Harley included a hitch so that it could be towed behind a car. Basically, if a mechanic was delivering a finished car back to the customer, they’d tow the Servi-Car behind it and just ride it back to the shop. Or, if a customer had purchased a new car, the sales guy could deliver the car and then ride the Harley back to town.
Indian beat them to market by one year with the Dispatch Tow, a nearly identical model based on their Scout motorcycle. However, Harley made a better go of it with the Servi-Car because their marketing team got the word out more effectively. I also think Harley had better experience working with government entities – law enforcement, the military, etc.
The box on the back of the Servi-Car is super-utilitarian, and customers found all sorts of unique uses for them!
From box options to engines, brakes to running gear, Harley made a lot of changes to the Servi-Car over the years to keep it relevant. The releases were typically fairly small; no big moves all in one model year, per se. Harley just kept making the motorcycle better. A little tweak here and there, throughout the life of the model.
There were a couple of major changes. In 1937, an antiquated (and pretty inefficient) total loss oil system engine was replaced by one with a recirculating system. It wasn’t a big powerhouse, but it was simple, efficient, and reliable.
The 40s brought with it a better frame and axle, and an upgraded transmission. Harley also consolidated box size options down to just one, making it easier and cheaper to manufacture.
At the end of the day, the Harley-Davidson Servi-Car was a great motorcycle, and they knew how to market it. The simplicity and utility of the thing made it very attractive to everyone from the local mechanic to big city police departments, and as a result, Harley sold a ton of ’em! It’s still one of the longest continuously-produced motorcycles Harley’s ever built!
Sadly, there aren’t many of these things left. Because they were so useful, the majority of them saw very long duty cycles (heck, some police departments were still using them in the mid-90s). As a result, a lot of them were scrapped after basically being run into the ground. A few have survived, but not many.
That brings us to our Colorado milk truck…
The Harley-Davidson Servi-Car you can buy this weekend…
I did a little digging on the internet to see if anybody had ever seen a Servi-Car used as a milk wagon, and came up pretty much empty. The closest I got is a black and white photo of a Servi-Car ice cream truck. Close (ish), but no cigar.
As I understand it, Maurice & Mary Hahn took over the dairy from her parents back in the early 50s and ran it together until the mid-80s when Maurice passed away. For some of the dairy’s active years, Maurice used that 1957 Harley to deliver milk to his customers! I’m not sure when he parked, but I know it sat in one of the barns for quite a while. A few years ago, a Harley mechanic went through the bike and got it back into running condition, but then it was parked again. Last I heard, Mike Heitman and his team were working on getting it running again for the auction.
Believe it or not, this Harley-Davidson Servi-Car is mostly original. Obviously the rubber isn’t original, but from what I’ve been told, this motorcycle is pretty much the same as it left the factory. I’m not sure on the paint. I think it was repainted at some point, but I don’t know for sure. It’s missing some of the trim on the front fender, but the brightwork is very good. Even in dry climates where rust isn’t an issue, finding chrome in good shape isn’t easy. I believe that 1957 was the final year for the springer front end, too, and a lot of Harley fans have a thing for the springer front ends. They have a classy old-school look to them!
What’s it worth?
Our Iron Comps database was zero help on this one, but Dana Mecum and his team have sold a bunch of ’em over the past ten years. Most of the ones they sold were restored and in the $15-20K range. In fact, I think only one was truly original – and it looked like it had been ridden hard and put away wet. It still brought over $15K!
If Mike and the MH Bar team is able to get it running prior to the auction, I think we’ll have a good chance of this one seeing the mid/high-teens when the hammer drops. If not, I’ll bet it still goes north of ten. These are tough to find – especially in great shape like this one!
It’ll be fun to see how this one shakes out on Saturday!
Date: Saturday, October 30, 2021 – 10AM Mountain Location: 12223 Hahn Rd., Calhan, CO 80808 Bidding Format: Onsite-only. No online bidding for this one. Auctioneer: MH Bar Auction Co. Contact: Mike Heitman – 719.683.7235 (or firstname.lastname@example.org) Sale Bill: Click here.
The 8370R tractor represents one of John Deere’s largest and most valuable row crop tractors in the current 2021 market. With a 2019 price of $407,000 for a base model off the line in Waterloo, this workhorse presents a great opportunity to analyze current row crop tractor values and trends. There is quite a bit of uncertainty among buyers and sellers about how these larger tractors will sell as we approach this epic end-of-year flurry of used machinery sales. An already highly anticipated season for updating machinery has had a shot of adrenaline with more supply chain issues and recent strikes at John Deere UAW facilities.
Start with Solid Information
Good decisions need to start with good information. We begin with 33 historic auction sales of the 8370R in this Iron Comps Insights, covering sales from 2018 to just a couple months ago on August 23rd. The historic auction data provides the price trends. Depreciation ‘curves’ will also be calculated to add detail to those price trends. In addition to the analysis on auction trends, Tractor Zoom is now able to compare those to dealer list pricing. Dealer list values provides a more complete picture of average current row crop tractor values. If you are unaware, dealers can now promote their equipment free-of-charge on Tractor Zoom and many have! One billion dollars of equipment has already been promoted just this past month. If you are an equipment valuator, this is also helpful to you. You will soon be able to use Iron Comps to appraise more of the low-hour, late-model, high-quality equipment commonly found on dealers’ lots. There are currently 50+ listings of 8370R’s on dealers’ lots in Tractor Zoom, which are also used later in this analysis.
With the 15% annual price increase noted, we move to a quarterly view of the same data. Quarterly statistics provides a more detailed glimpse at the effect of hours and potential external variables on the sale price. The graph below again pits the average sale value (in the bar graph) against the average hours of the 8370R’s sold (in the line graph).
Just like the 8370R, there is a lot under the hood here. Spend some time contrasting quarters to understand the impact that the engine hours, pandemic, disrupted supply chain, and bull market might have had on the tractor values over this relatively short period of time.
One such thought experiment is to match up Q4 in 2019 to those same months in 2020. If you can remember to that time frame (excusable if you cannot… a lot has happened), we just started to experience this strong rally in the grain markets after years of a suppressed farm economy. That resultant strong demand boosted quarterly average values up 15% despite the hours also increasing (10%). What would happen if the supply were also severely disrupted during that same time? We will find out soon enough. Last quarter’s incredible jump in value was driven mostly by the fact that the few tractors that were brought to auction were all low-hour. Yet, those few sales are not unrelated to the demand AND supply pressures. Tractor Zoom has had 60% less 8370R’s go up for auction these past two quarters than a year ago.
If you are trying to paint a picture of any dynamic market, avoid broad brush strokes. The average current row crop tractor values are higher this year, but not distributed equally across all age of machines. The current dealer listings vs auction sales graphs below show this disparity.
Auction and Dealership Depreciation ‘Curves’
Take note that this next graph can be misleading if you are simply looking for the price premium applied at a dealership. At first glace it looks like the used equipment at a dealership is $90,000 higher. This is not the case since the dealer listing data here is from the current market. Most of the auction data is historic when prices were about 15% lower. We get to a closer period comparison later. The dealer listings and auction graph doesprovide valuable insight though. The depreciation trend lines have almost an identical slope, reinforcing the idea that the auction market has a heavy influence on dealer list price strategy. If you have another interpretation of this, I’d love to hear it.
Our final figure below helps control for this dynamic market with the same current dealership listing data as above, but now compared to just 2021 auction sales. Side note, I usually prefer a true curve to represent the depreciation of categories of machines, but when you have small subsections like we do, a linear best-fit line tends to work better for comparison.
Here are three observations about current row crop tractor values to glean from this graph.
1. Auctions are Driving this Market. Low-hour, late-model tractors are bringing values at auction that are extremely comparable to dealer list price. An economic sign that the supply is extremely tight and demand equally high. Dealer pricing, in this scenario, probably needs to be updated more frequently. Same goes for appraisers adjusting fleet valuations. 2. Mid-hour Dealer Premium. There is slightly more separation of values between auction and dealerships (approximately 5-10%) for machines in the 2,000 – 4,000 range. Farmers tend to have more warranty or maintenance assurance off a dealer’s lot, which could explain some of that premium. It could also be tied to trade-in deals. 3. Residual Value is Strong. Props to Deere on an apparently high-quality tractor that lasts (cannot personally attest, as I have not yet operated one of these). There are only a handful data points, but if those tractors above 5,000 hours bring anywhere near the list price, they will be comparable to similar tractors sold earlier this year with just 3,000 hours.
2021 post-harvest auction take-away
Even with a stabilized commodity market (sans oats!), most other signs are pointing up for machinery values. Expect a limited number of prime row crop tractors to make it to the auction market. When they do, don’t be surprised if auction prices rival those machines on dealer’s lots. Some farmers are going to try anything they can to offset their taxes. When they cannot find the equipment they want in their backyard they will turn to their phones. Shipping a tractor across a few states will not deter a farmer from purchasing like it might have pre-pandemic. Times are a changin’…
For a long time, I’ve had a thing for big ol’ Versies. I’ve always thought they were pretty cool tractors. Never driven one before, but I’ve always wanted to. Maybe I need to hang around with Farmhand Mike more often…
Versatile is a neat story about a company that never lost focus on their original goal (which is probably a good lesson for all of us to be reminded of from time to time). Let’s dig in, shall we?
The Pakosh Family: Prairie Farmers
Emil Pakosh had come to America in 1905 from Poland, and two years later, married Claudia Wrona, another Polish immigrant. As luck would have it, not long after they married, the Canadian government started doling out 160-acre chunks of land in Saskatchewan for $10. So, the young couple decided to move north and took the deal! (For reference, that works out to buying ground for $1.11/acre today…how’d you like to have THAT deal tossed in your lap?)
It was a tough life living on the Canadian prairie for the Pakosh family, but with a team of oxen, a plow, and some fierce determination, Emil became a wheat farmer. In 1911, Peter was born in a one-room log cabin. As Peter grew up, he became infatuated with farm equipment. And, as with most young farm kids, it didn’t take long before he was out in Dad’s shed taking stuff apart just to see how it worked…much to Emil’s dismay. Some things never change, right?
Peter’s mechanical skills continued to flourish, and by 1926 at age 15, he was running a steam-powered thresher on his own. See, over time, Emil Pakosh had expanded his land to a full 640-acre section. Farming had become an all hands on deck family affair, and fortunately the Pakosh family was pretty large. Emil & Claudia had twelve kids, and Peter was the second-eldest. His ability to not only run the machinery, but also maintain and fix it, was a tremendous help. In 1926, there wasn’t much in the way of a dealer network, so it’s not like there was a parts counter seven miles away, y’know?
Side note: That whole maintain/fix thing, because there weren’t dealerships close by? That would become tremendously important to Peter about 40 years later.
“One day I’ll build you a tractor…”
Peter graduated high school in 1933. With the future of farming looking pretty grim in the midst of the Great Depression, he set his sights on his passion; mechanical engineering. There was a school in Winnipeg that had a program, and he enrolled in it in 1935. Emil paid a local cattle buyer five bucks to take his son to Winnipeg to study.
As he was leaving the farm to go to Winnipeg, he promised his father, “One day I’ll build you a tractor.” And although it took Peter about 30 years to do it, he did keep that promise.
A year or so later, Peter had fallen in love and married a young woman named Adeline. They both worked to put him through school for the next few years. Then in 1940, the young couple moved back east to Toronto, where Peter had accepted a position as a draftsman with Massey Harris.
Life was good. Sort of.
Things were going well at Massey Harris, but ideas kept Peter up at night. He even had a drafting table set up in their bedroom. He couldn’t turn off the ideas. For the next few years, he amassed a pretty good number of sketches for implements on his own. However, when he put in for a promotion/transfer to the design department at Massey, he was turned down. Management stated that he was far too young and inexperienced.
That was a tipping point in Peter’s life. It strengthened his resolve to see the idea through, regardless of what it took to get there. In 1945 he built a prototype in his basement. Local farmers were interested enough that he decided to build ten of ’em. It was a gamble, though, and money for the materials to build them wasn’t in the budget. The money did appear, though, and it came from the most unlikely of places.
It came from Adeline’s sock drawer, so to speak.
See, for the longest time, Adeline had wanted a fur coat, and she had saved a fair bit of money to get one. But when the need arose, she put the fur coat on the back burner. Quite a sacrifice!
Ultimately, the gamble paid off – Peter built all ten augers and every one of them was sold. (I don’t know if Adeline ever got her fur coat; I suspect she probably did, though.
From augers to tractors…
Tractors like the Versatile 145 were still off in the distant future at this point, but if you want to get technical about it, that auger could be considered the first Versatile product ever built.
In 1947, Peter paired up with an Ontario farmboy (who was also his brother in law), Roy Robinson, to build a sprayer. Like Peter, Roy had good mechanical skills, and was a good machinist as well. The two made a good pair. Having successfully launched two products at this point, they decided to incorporate as the Hydraulic Engineering Co.
In 1953, the company relocated to Winnipeg in order to be closer to the larger-scale farmers of the prairie. That turned out to be a good move, as it was closer to the market for a self-propelled swather that they’d been working on. It was a pretty big hit, and provided them with the momentum they needed to start working on what Peter had always wanted to build…a tractor.
Versatile’s new home: 1260 Clarence Ave.
Meanwhile, the company continued to grow, and in 1963 incorporated as Versatile Mfg. Ltd. The following year, they built a large facility at 1260 Clarence Avenue in Winnipeg where they would continue building swathers as well as developing new products – namely, a line of tractors.
It’s still the company’s main headquarters today. Here’s what it looks like.
Roy took on the daily affairs of managing the company, while Peter’s mechanical engineer side kept him coming up with ideas. It’s been said that because the production floor was concrete, he always kept a piece of chalk in his three piece suit so that he could sketch ideas on the fly while problem-solving with the engineers. (That would’ve been a sight to see, wouldn’t it? The president of the company and a bunch of engineers all on their hands and knees designing products right there on the factory floor!)
A Blueprint for Progress
Overall, the company’s approach was pretty simple; build solid, reliable products at a reasonable price. Furthermore, build them simply enough that remote farmers could fix them easily. Peter, now in his fifties, remembered his time on the farm as a boy. Although times had changed quite a bit, he knew that in order for farmers in remote areas to buy them, the new line of tractors had to use pieces and parts that were easy to get no matter where you were. Proprietary stuff wouldn’t cut it.
Both Peter and Roy knew that there was a market for 4WD tractors, too. Pulling power to all four wheels meant that a farmer could be faster in the field. Having big floaty tires at all four corners meant that despite the weight, the tractor could still get through wet fields, meaning that the farmer could get an earlier start, too. Lastly, they had fifteen years of manufacturing experience, and they knew how to build products efficiently (the component idea was part of this), so they could pass the savings off to the farmer!
The so-called “experts” – a consulting firm as well as a marketing firm – both told the management team at Versatile that building 4WD tractors was a stupid idea. They said that there was no market for it, that nobody was going to sell a farmer a big heavy tractor like that.
Boy, it’s a good thing Peter & Roy didn’t listen, huh?
Build ’em simple, reliable, and cheap
In 1966, Versatile launched their first tractors, throwing all of that “professional advice” out the window and doing what they knew in their hearts would work. Their first tractors, the D100 and G100, were small(ish) 100-horse articulating 4WDs, and they sold every last one of them without breaking a sweat.
They was so successful, in fact, that in 1967 they added over 127,000 square feet to the Clarence Avenue factory! They had to do it in order to ramp up production on three new models – the 118, 125, and 145 (all named for the power they produced).
The Versatile 145 was really the last of the “small” tractors. In 1972, they broke the 200-horse barrier with the 700, and it was off to the races after that. The tried and true formula – build ’em simple, reliable, and cost-effectively – was working. By the late 70s/early 80s, Versatile had about 30% of the marketshare for 4WDs, spanning everything from a 71-horsepower bi-directional tractor up to the mammoth 470-horse 1150!
They built a pretty good dealer network in Canada as well as in the northern part of the midwest, and as a result, they sold well. It’s not hard to find ’em here in the upper midwest, that’s for sure! Lots of them have aged, for sure, but they’re still lumbering around the fields today! You’ll also find lots of ’em on construction sites moving massive amounts of dirt, too.
I didn’t have the chance to talk with the folks at Lutter Auction about this Versatile 145 and get much of the backstory on it; time kind of got away from me while I was writing. If I have time to reach out and I find out anything interesting, I’ll update the post.
Here’s what I know about this one…
It’s spent a good portion of its life in Redfield, SD. A local farmer owned it (he has since retired). As you can see, it’s got a fair bit of sunburn on the paint – my guess is that this tractor spent a few nights under the stars during its lifetime. It’s got a pair of hydraulic outlets on the back, but no PTO (which isn’t surprising – a lot of these early Versatiles didn’t have one). The 23.1×30 tires are worn and they’re cracking a little, but given their age (I believe they’re original to the tractor), that’s probably not too surprising. The tractor runs and operates very well – there’s a video of it running and driving on the auction listing. No excessive smoke, and I couldn’t see any blue smoke while it was driving. To my ears, the motor sounds pretty healthy.
The interior needs work. The aftermarket cabs that Versatile 145s were sold with are basically just a steel box with windows. It kept the rain and snow off of the operator’s head, but that was about it. They didn’t seal very well and as such, the elements could really destroy the interior over time. That said, a lot of guys who pick these things up pull the cab off and use it/restore it as an open station, since that’s the way they left the factory.
Built to be fixed…
Most of these tractors had a naturally aspirated Cummins V470 in them which made about 185 horse at the crank, and 145 horse on the drawbar. Towards the end of the run, though, Versatile started using the next generation of that motor, the Cummins V504. Both are fairly reliable engines, but parts can be a little tough to find, and rebuild kits can be spendy.
But…that’s the beauty of these old Versies, and it goes back to the simplicity of the design. They wanted farmers to be able to fix these tractors, and they made it as easy as possible. In the event of an engine failure, though, you could swap in just about any low-torque small-cube engine. I know that there are quite a few of these tractors that have been swapped with a 5.9 or an 8.3 Cummins. However, these things will take pretty much anything. Heck, you could probably stuff an old 6V-71 Detroit in there, and it probably wouldn’t be too hard to put a red or green 466 in one, too.
I believe this tractor has a 12-speed gearbox, but I don’t know who made it. Either way, from what I could tell from a little research, they were reasonably stout gearboxes.
What’s a Versatile 145 worth?
There aren’t a lot of these tractors left – especially here in the States. I think Versatile only cranked out about 3000 of these, and most of them were sold in Canada. But, that said, rarity doesn’t always equate to higher value. They’re bigger than your average rowcrop. They take up space, which means they’re harder to find buyers for than a garden variety 1066. Lots of them have been sitting along the fencerow for years, so they typically need some cosmetic work, too.
The fact that it operates reasonably well (with video proof) will definitely help bring more money. The sheet metal is in good shape too; I didn’t see any major dings or dents. Granted, the paint is faded and missing in a lot of spots, but an afternoon with a powerwasher and some elbow grease, I’ll bet this one cleans up better than you think.
I did check our Iron Comps database to see what we had, and I was suprised to find that we had five or six records. Almost all of ’em were from North or South Dakota (and I think one was from Kansas), and I think the most I saw one sell for was a few years ago for about five thousand bucks.
Bidding opened yesterday, and it’s up to $2500 right now. At the end of the day, I think this one will probably bring somewhere between $5-7K. If I had to guess, it might be towards the higher end of the range.
It’ll be fun to see where this one shakes out, and where it ends up going. If you bring it home, reach out to me and tell me what you’re going to do with it!
Versatile never once lost focus of it’s goal – to build quality products at a reasonable price, that farmers could maintain relatively easily. He remained super-focused on that goal, too. Go compare an early tractor like this one with one from the 80s when they were on top. There were a few more creature comforts, but they were never Cadillacs like some of their competitors. They were built to get the job done. No frills. That was the vision that Pakosh had for his products. It never faltered while he was at the helm, or for many years thereafter. You can option out a new Versatile like an Escalade if you want to – the company has put increased focus on operator comfort and all that, but the tractors are still built with a hard day’s work in mind. In that respect, the company has never lost their focus.
That laser focus on the goal helped them basically create their own segment of farm of equipment – the 4WD tractor. Without regard to the pioneers like Wagner and Steiger and a small handful of others that built tractors by hand before them…Versatile was the first to mass-produce articulating 4WDs. They literally legitimized the segment. They wrote the rules. They’ve been a contender ever since.
The onset of Covid 19 changed the way we do things a lot. Let’s take auctions for example; before 2020, most auctions were held at physical locations, which was kind of restricting, and although online auctions were still there, they weren’t that popular.
But now, most people have realized the benefit of online auctions, especially when it comes to farm equipment. Whether you’re buying farm equipment or selling it, you can be sure to get the best deals and tons of prospective customers and sellers.
Read on as we tell you everything about online farm equipment auctions, from what they are to where you can find them.
What Are Online Farm Equipment Auctions?
Online farm equipment auctions work like your regular auction, the only difference being the fact that you participate remotely and place bids at the comfort of your home or office.
In online farm equipment auctions, bidding starts on a specific day and runs for a week or so. During this time, you can review numerous farm equipment through photos and videos and bid on your favorite. And just like in live auctions, the highest bidder at the time it closes wins the equipment
Unlike your typical local farm equipment dealer or auctioneer, online auctioneers have extensive collections that are not limited to one brand or manufacturer. They’re also not biased towards a particular brand or piece of equipment.
The availability of such a wide section of equipment enables you to evaluate the pros and cons of each item, thus increasing your chances of getting the best equipment and landing the best deal.
One of the major perks of online farm equipment auctions is that you can bid or sell from anywhere. This completely eradicates the inconvenience and restrictions posed by traditional auctions where you had to attend the auction physically.
As a seller, placing your farm equipment on an online auction platform enables you to get instant feedback from a multitude of interested buyers. Online auctions also put you at a significant advantage of getting a better deal for your equipment due to varying competitive bid prices from different buyers.
Types of Online Auctions
There are two types of online auctions: person-to-person and business-to-person. In person-to-person online auctions, the individual sellers offer their equipment directly to buyers. Generally, the seller retains physical possession of the equipment until the auction closes. The seller then gets in touch with the buyer to arrange the payment and delivery of the equipment.
On the other hand, in business-to-person online auctions, the business retains physical control of the equipment and accepts payment from the buyer. In both cases, the mode of delivery is agreed upon by the buyer and seller after the bid closes.
How to Get Into an Online Farm Equipment Auction
To get into an online auction, you first have to register with an online auctioneering company before you are allowed to buy or sell anything. The primary purpose of the registration is to keep track of the equipment you bid on or sell. It also helps the auctioneer keep up with the bids as well as build a database on the buyers and sellers.
Ready to Get Started?
Online farm equipment auctions offer the most convenient way to sell and bid on farm equipment. At Tractor Zoom, we partner with over 500 auctioneers and 400 dealer locations across the country to provide you with a wide selection of farm equipment at the best deals.
The harvest season is coming to a close in the Northern states. That means it’s the perfect time to update your farm equipment. Whether you’re scaling up operations in 2022, launching a new ag enterprise, or just looking to get special equipment at a great price, check out one of these upcoming farm equipment auctions.
October 23: The Fall Equipment Consignment Auction in Indianola, IA
This massive farm/construction equipment auction is sure to have something for everyone. Register today to bid online, or visit the sale in person at County Road R63 in Indianola.
While this auction is too big to describe in detail here, all the big-name equipment is there, including:
John Deere tractors
Dodge RAM pickup trucks
And Ford trucks
Whether you’re hoping to visit a farm equipment auction in-person or online, Tractor Zoom has all the resources you need! Find the best farm equipment, semis, tractors, combines, balers, UTVs and pickup trucks at TractorZoom.com.
The Tractor Zoom Mission
At Tractor Zoom, our goal is to make it easy to buy farm equipment online. We provide a unique and easy-to-use website to connect farmers with equipment sellers around the globe. Our mission is to overhaul the advertising process for sellers and simplify the decision-making process for farmers.
To date, we’ve partnered with more than 500 auctioneers and more than 400 dealer locations around the US. Our goal is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date information about upcoming farm equipment auctions. Check out our blog for more farm equipment tales and topics, and contact us if you need to know more.
Tired of Scrolling Around?
When you’re in the ag business, time is money. Try our online app. Just set some parameters, like location, equipment model number, or date. We’ll notify you when something suits your needs.
Tractor Zoom is connecting farm equipment auctioneers and buyers faster than ever before. Finding farm equipment at auction has never been so easy.