John Deere 4020: Two of a kind!

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Check out this week’s Interesting Iron listings on TZ!

Every so often, I see auctions where I know the seller from one area of my life or another. Such is the case this week, with a pair of John Deere 4020s selling at an auction hosted by my friend Mark Putney at Putney Auction Services. They belong to my friend (and coworker) Cindy Howard.

Cindy joined the Tractor Zoom family just over two years ago as a member of the Auction Success Team. Basically, it’s her job to build relationships with our auctioneer partners, and help them get their sales listed on the Tractor Zoom website. She, along with the rest of the AST, are absolutely critical to our success as a company. If we don’t have those relationships, we don’t have auctions to promote. If we don’t have anything to promote, we can’t help Tractor Zoom users find the equipment they need for their farms.

So yeah…Cindy, Matt, John, and Jeremy are at the core of our company. I can’t imagine what life would be like without them.

Now, before anybody starts accusing me of playing favorites…let me clear the air. These John Deere 4020s that she’s consigning are becoming something of a rarity, because they’re one-owner tractors. Her dad bought both of them brand new from a local dealer just south of Des Moines. They’ve been in the family ever since. These were the tractors that Cindy grew up on!

I’m not going to try and write something new as far as the history of the 4020 is concerned. There have been hundreds of pages devoted to telling the story of the 4020 (and more are being released every day). There’s nothing new that I can really add to it!

So, let’s look at this pair of 4020s!

1965 John Deere 4020 (Gas)

1965 John Deere 4020
Click the photo to see the TZ auction listing!

This was the first 4020 that Cindy’s dad ever bought for their small farm (the Alkorn Ranch) out near Winterset, IA. If I had to guess, it was originally purchased at one of the local dealers (which I believe is now an AgriVision location). By 1969, Deere had over 3700 dealers in North America, so tracing tractors back to original dealers can be a bit of a challenge if the decal and paperwork isn’t handy.

At any rate, this tractor was the primary workhorse for a year or two on the Alkorn Ranch. They kept livestock, so it was sort of a do-it-all tractor, which was exactly how Deere intended the 4020 to be used. I’m just about positive that it planted corn, baled hay, and did quite a bit of choring with a loader.

At some point in its life (Cindy couldn’t remember when), loader life took its toll and the front axle blew out. When that happened, Dad swapped the axle with one from a 6030. That was a fairly common swap back in the day, as they were a lot beefier, and better-suited to the stresses of life with a loader.

tractor Front Axle
When the original axle bit the dust, Cindy’s dad swapped in a much heavier-duty axle from a 6030. Beefy is good!

The tractor itself runs well according to Cindy (I believe it was driven to the auction yard from her farm, which is at least 20 miles away). It’ll need a little a few things, but it’s got good bones, and it’ll serve a new owner pretty well, I’d imagine!

Year A Round cab
The cab will need a new headliner and doors. The seat’s in good shape, though!
tractor hood
The hood has plenty of character, but I’ve seen worse.

What’s it worth?

Honestly, you can pay whatever you want for a 4020. This year alone, we’ve seen them sell for over $30K, and as cheap as $2600. As you’d expect, the nicer (and more original) the tractor, the higher the price. And although this one is pretty original, which is generally desirable, it’s also a little worse for wear. It is a gasser, though, which is on the much less common side, so that may help the value a little bit. I feel like this is probably a $5-6000 tractor. Time will tell! The live auction starts on Saturday morning at 10AM Central, and it’ll be simulcast on the web as well. If I weren’t heading to Indiana to shoot some drag racing & tractor pulling this weekend, you’d find me at this auction!

Check out the full sale bill here!

Check out the details on this 1965 John Deere 4020 here!

1966 John Deere 4020 (Gas)

1966 John Deere 4020
Click the photo to see the auction listing on TZ!

Of Cindy’s two 4020s, the 1966 gasser is definitely the cleaner of the two. Cindy’s Dad bought this one brand new in 1966, and it’s been on the family farm ever since. I’m not sure when the Westendorf WL-42 loader came into play; it’s definitely newer than the tractor. It served as a second

Honestly, other than the typical sunburn on the hood and a ding or dent here and there, this one is in pretty darn good shape. I could go on and tell you what this tractor did at the Alkorn Ranch back in the day, but it’s basically the same as its big brother tractor up above!

Plus, the story of the Alkorn Ranch is pretty neat…and that’s coming up in next!

What’s it worth?

Based on some comparable sales in Iron Comps, I think this is probably a $7-8000 tractor.  If I had to guess, this one will remain a working tractor for somebody. Gas tractors still have a place here in the upper midwest, where chores still have to be done even when it’s cold outside…and gassers start easier than diesels in the cold! Actually, this one sports a Fireball XR700 electronic ignition, so it should fire up in just about any situation!

Check out the details on this 1966 John Deere 4020 here!

The Alkorn Ranch

I’ve known Cindy Howard for two years or more, and I knew that her background was in cattle. However for some reason, I had it stuck in my head that her family had raised Black Angus like most other Iowa beef producers. I found out this morning that this was NOT the case!

The Alkorn Ranch was in operation until her dad passed away in 1987, and they were known for one thing; purebred Charolais cattle. They’re a big, stocky French breed that seem to do pretty well in the upper Midwest with its cold winters. They’re also known for being pretty even tempered and easy to handle (for the most part).

Sentinel: The Protective Loudmouth

They raised several pretty impressive animals when Cindy was a kid, too. Sentinel was a bull that was shown in Kansas City as well as Louisville at the National Western, where it took Reserve Champion honors in 1981. Cindy told me that Sentinel was quite the animal. He was used to having horses around him at home, and during shows, Cindy had to take him on walks to the horses to help calm his nerves. She said that if his nerves got the better of him, you’d swear he was about to tear the stall down! On multiple occasions, Cindy (all 5’2″ of her) raised a few eyebrows when she marched into his stall while he was having a fit, and calmed him down almost instinctively! Sentinel was pretty protective, too. He didn’t like anybody getting near “his” Cindy.

Casper: The Center of Attention

The other notable animal that they raised was Casper. Casper was a character. For whatever odd reason, he liked costumes. Cindy told me that one of her fondest memories of that animal was walking him out of the stalls and through the main drag at the Iowa State Fairgrounds to appear on the Channel 5 news…wearing a string of five bandannas tied around his neck and a pair of sunglasses! Casper took Iowa State Super Bull honors that year as well.

Cindy’s family was very involved in the Iowa Charolais Breeder’s Association, too. Her Dad served as a director for many years, and I believe that Cindy’s still active in the group today.

At the end of the day, this pair of 4020s are pretty run of the mill. But without those two tractors, Casper and Sentinel wouldn’t exist, and Cindy probably wouldn’t be who she is today. To a point, the physical stuff around us shapes and molds us into the people we are today, or will be in the future.

And that makes these tractors pretty important, as far as I’m concerned.

Farm auction finds: Olivers with airplane parts, and gems from the class of ’75!

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See the details on this week’s Interesting Iron here.

This week, we’ve got a few nifty farm auction finds in the midwest. One in Missouri, one in Illinois, and one in Minnesota. Let’s get to it!

An Oliver with airplane parts!?!?!?

Super44 Copy 2

Let’s talk low-production Olivers for a minute. If I’m not mistaken, the Super 44 was the second-lowest production in the company’s history. It was only produced for two years – 1957 and 1958. Furthermore, Oliver only turned out 775 of these little guys in total!

During the late 40s, International released several small offset models, and the market sort of followed suit. Not to be outdone, Oliver did too. Honestly, the Super 44 was kind of an odd little fella. Oliver outsourced quite a bit of this tractor.  For instance, the motor came from Continental, and the hydraulics came from Cessna (the airplane company)! The steering box came from Saginaw, and both the 4-speed gearbox and axles came from Clark. Nearly every major system on this tractor was sourced from one of Oliver’s suppliers.

I’m honestly not sure why, but I wonder if it had something to do with their dealer network. During the 40s and 50s, Oliver had a Dealer Advisory Council – a group of dealers from all over the country – that they regularly solicited product feedback from. Well, in the early 50s, the dealers really wanted a compact tractor to compete with the 8N, and Oliver’s design team put a prototype together that looked an awful lot like the Super 44. This was definitely NOT what the dealers were looking for as far as the 8N-fighter. The concept was retooled and the result was the Super 55 (which WAS what the dealers were wanting).

At some point, though, somebody came back to the Super 44 concept and it got the green light. The small, offset tractor with mid-mounted attachments worked really well for cultivating tobacco, and many of these tractors ended up in Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Carolinas.

What’s it worth?

Up until about 5 years ago, these tractors and the second-generation version (the 440) were the hottest thing going at farm auctions (collector auctions too). If you had one that was nicely restored, you could count on every bit of $10-12K if not more. In 2016/2017, though, prices started to calm back down. They’re still pretty high for an itty bitty 30-horse tractor, but they’re not as crazy as they once were. I’d imagine that this one will probably sell somewhere in the $7-8000 range. It’s been nicely restored and has new rubber all the way around, and it’s part of a pretty sweet collection of smaller-sized classics!

Auctioneer: Younger Auction Co.
Sale Date: September 25, 2021
Location: Maryville, MO

Full Sale Bill

1975 International Transtar 4300 Grain Truck

International Transtar 4300 at auction

I’ll probably always have a soft spot for Transtars. When I was just a little kid, my Uncle John hauled our apples and cherries with Transtar cabovers. It was a tradition that during cherry harvest, I used to ride with him and my cousins up to Graun, MI to Cherry Central to drop that day’s load and bring home the previous day’s cherry tanks. We were huge Detroit Tigers fans, and always listened to Ernie Harwell & Paul Carey call the games on the way up. Those were some of my favorite memories from my childhood!

Anyway, the Transtar conventional lineup was introduced to compete with the “big” players in the over the road semi market in 1971 (the cabovers came later). Transtars were wider-track than International’s previous offerings, and they were very solid trucks. They didn’t have quite the same configurability as the Peterbilt 359, but International did have a bunch of engines available.

At the end of the day, the Transtar conventional semis sold okay, but they didn’t set the world on fire quite like International had hoped they would. Peterbilt and KW remained on top, but for the day cab and straight truck market, these trucks did sell pretty well. There were – and probably still are – thousands of these trucks lumbering around the midwest hauling corn and soybeans!

This one has survived the last 45 years better than most. It’s powered by an 8V-71 Detroit (which I also have a soft spot for), and runs an Eaton/Fuller transmission (likely a Road Ranger). Pretty standard for a grain truck like this one. With about 267K on the odometer, the farmer who owned this one must not have had far to go to get to an elevator. With that Detroit under the hood, though, I’ll bet everyone heard him coming!

What’s it worth?

In looking at Iron Comps for comparable farm auction results for these trucks, I think it’s probably safe to say that this one will sit somewhere between $6-8K. The smaller grain box probably hurts resale a little bit (I think that’s a 16′ – maybe 18′), but there’s a little nostalgia for trucks with 70s-era striped paint jobs. The Detroit powerplant is probably a bonus, as parts are a dime a dozen in most places, and they’re relatively easy to work on. At the end of the day, trucks like these seem to speak to a certain crowd that remembers the world before 24-row planters, hopper bottoms, and huge combines. If I had to guess, somebody like that will go for this one.

Auctioneer: Tony Montgomery Auction & Realty
Sale Date: September 28, 2021
Location: Plainview, MN
Full Sale Bill

John Deere 4630 Open Station

4630 Open Station 2 Copy 3

John Deere 4630s aren’t exactly rare or unusual. Mother Deere cranked out nearly 25,000 of them between 1973 and 1977. But…finding one that’s a factory fender tractor? That’s a little less common. Record-keeping wasn’t real strong during the SoundGard days, so nobody really knows how many variants were produced. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I saw one at a farm auction!

It IS, however, safe to say that a factory open station is pretty darn uncommon. This one is a two-owner tractor with 6000 hours on it – most of them spent dragging a planter in Illinois! It’s been very well cared for, and personally, I think she’s a beauty!

The 4630 was the king of the hill for the 30-series (aside from the 6030, which I’d put in a different category altogether). It used the same 404 as its littler brothers, but where the 4230 was naturally aspirated and the 4430 was turbocharged, the 4630 was turbocharged AND aftercooled. That was good for about 15 horsepower over the 4620, a noticeable difference in the field.

The air intake is behind the the stack, which is a dead giveaway that the tractor is later production. Deere had some issues with overheating in the early production. The engineers solved the problem in 1975, by relocating the air cleaner to the top of the motor, which allowed them to cram a bigger radiator out in front.

What’s it worth?

It’s a sharp tractor, and as a quad range open station, it’s a relatively uncommon tractor. That said, it also has 6000 hours on it, so it’s probably out of the running for most higher-line collectors. When this farm auction closes, I’d imagine it’ll still go for somewhere north of $15K. I don’t think it’ll hit $20K, but it’ll be fun to find out!

Auctioneer: Bauer Auction Service
Sale Date: September 23, 2021
Location: Martinsville, IL
Full Sale Bill

The $115,000 mistake…and how NOT to make it.

combine depreciation can be a costly part of upgrading

2021 has been a pretty good year for corn and soybean prices, and many farmers are looking to upgrade equipment. One of the highest value items on that list is the combine. But, at the end of the day, does it really make sense, or is it a high-dollar mistake waiting to happen?

John is one of our buddies, and like everybody else, he’s trying to figure out what to do. Is it a better idea to pick up a bigger, newer combine with lower hours, trade in for another one like he’s already got but with lower hours, hang on to what he’s got, or something different altogether?

So, over beers one night, we started talking through his options, and penciled some things out. If you’re in a similar position, maybe this will be helpful to you.

Here are a few key factors to consider when deciding what to do.

  1. Usage
  2. Current Market Value
  3. Interest Expense
  4. Expected Repairs
  5. Fuel Expense
  6. Actual Depreciation

He’s currently using a John Deere S670 with ~1800 separator hours. He’s farming about 1,800 acres with a 50/50 corn and soybean rotation.


One key factor to consider is how long you plan on owning your next combine. How many years is this thing going to live in your machine shed, and how many separator hours are you going to put on it per year? In John’s case, it’ll probably be about 5 years and ~215 separator hours per year.

Current Market Value

One of the biggest pain points for farmers is understanding the current value of their farm equipment. We looked at prices for over 825 John Deere S670s currently listed on and narrowed down the results to just those machines between 1700-1900 hours. This resulted in an average dealer list price of ~$142,000 for 72 machines.








For the sake of this argument, let’s assume trade in value of roughly 80% of list value for our John Deere S670. That puts the trade-in value of John’s combine at about $113,600.

Using the same basic data noted above to compare the following, let’s assume a purchase price of ~93% of List Price for each. Here’s the options he’s looking at.

    • Trade up to a John Deere S770 with 500-1000 hrs?
    • Trade up to one with less than 500 hours?
    • Or, trade in for another S670 with lower hours?
    • Or, keep the S670 we have now, knowing we’ll have high repair costs in the future?

John plans on applying the trade-in value of of his S670 to the purchase price of the combines listed above, resulting in our “Trade in Boot Value.” Let’s also assume that the “Trade in Boot” is going to be fully financed and that our current S670 is paid off.

graphic outlining the various John Deere combine purchasing options
Here are the 4 different buying scenarios.

Interest Expense

For each combine above we will assume a payoff term of 5 years with an interest rate of 3.5%. As expected, the S770 with the lowest hours represents the highest interest expense as it has the highest purchase price.

Expected Repairs

Repairs are likely the hardest part of the equation – as it’s nearly impossible to predict. However, let’s agree that as the machine gets older and hours are added – the expected repair costs go up at an increasing rate.

To establish some kind of baseline, we used Iowa State University’s numbers for repair costs (AgDM A3-29)Your repair costs may vary.

For each combine we can figure the percent (%) from the table above by using the list price for each. Newer combines have a higher list price, and the argument is that parts will inevitably be more expensive, even if everything else is equal.

If we slot in John’s usage numbers from above and add ~1075 hours to each machine, we can project the estimated repair costs for each machine over the next 5 years. If he keeps his current machine, that’ll obviously result in the highest expected repair cost as that would put that machine close to 3,000 separator hours at the end of 5 years.

Fuel Expense

For each machine listed the expected hours used are the same. For the S770s we will also assume a 15% decrease in fuel usage due to efficiency gains with the newer machine. Another way of thinking about it is that the fuel cost for the S770’s will be 85% of the S670’s.

We will also use Fuel Required for Field Operations (PM 709) to project fuel costs for each machine. PM 709 assumes 1.0 gal/acre for soybeans and 1.45 gal/acre for corn. For John’s 1800 acre farm that is 50/50 corn & soybeans, that works out to about 2200 gallons of fuel each harvest. If fuel is $3.40/gal, this is how the fuel budget shakes out. (Obviously, we can’t rely on fuel prices to remain constant, so this number will definitely move around a little.)

    • S670’s 5 year Fuel Expense = $37,845
    • S770’s 5 year Fuel Expense = $31,862

Combine Depreciation (Actual Depreciation)

The final key variable is to project out the combine depreciation – the trade in value of the machine 5 years from now with additional separator hours. We will call this value “Actual Depreciation” because it’s what you will receive for the machine when it leaves the farm. I leveraged the same dataset from above and applied the same assumptions to project out the Resale or Trade-In Value.

graph showing actual depreciation by john deere combine model
Here’s a graphic representation of expected combine depreciation of each of the options John’s considering. The numbers are pretty staggering!

The biggest depreciation comes from the newer, lower hour machines. This is to be expected – but farmers often overlook this, despite it being the largest ownership cost over 5 years!

Total Cost of Ownership

Finally, we can add each of the above to get to a total cost of ownership over 5 years – this also allows us to understand the Cost per Acre per Year for this decision for our 1,800 acre farm.

graph showing total cost of ownership for a john deere combine

Different combines with different hours can make a massive difference in total cost of ownership!

The Bottom Line

When John considered all the costs noted above, this represents a pretty big decision for his farming operation. At the end of the day, it worked out to over $115K difference in Total Cost of Ownership if he bought the S770 with 300 separator hours!

For him, trading in his old combine for a lower-houred combine of the same model is likely the best choice economically. While it may not have been what he was wanting, he’s a practical guy and that’s what he’ll probably end up doing.

Bigger, newer machines theoretically mean newer/better technology and increased efficiency. It’s always tempting is move to a newer model and lower hour machine – and we get that. We made a lot of assumptions in John’s case. You’ll need to adjust some of these numbers to fit your operation, too. Repairs and down time are a huge cost to consider. Furthermore, fuel costs will likely go up. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to consider actual combine depreciation cost based on resale/trade-in value. It makes a huge difference!

Chart above shows all Auction Results from for John Deere Class 7 Combines in Dollars ($) per Separator hour to illustrate combine depreciation as separator hours increase.

Machinery is the second largest and growing part of the balance sheet, next to land. In profitable times, it becomes pretty important to know how to balance the line between keeping your fleet current and letting upgrade costs get over the top.

So, how do you make sure you don’t make a $115K mistake? Always do the math, and never leave out the combine depreciation value!

Shop combines at auctions & dealerships nationwide!

Cheap horsepower, SoundGard survivors, and temper tantrums.

cheap horsepower and a survivor 4440

Take a look at both pieces of Interesting Iron here!

Let’s talk cheap horsepower and survivors. We’ll get to the temper tantrums later…

Before we get to this week’s Interesting Iron…

We’ve got big news here at Tractor Zoom! We’ve expanded our industry-leading platform for real-time auction listings by adding equipment dealer listings as well! We’re providing farmers a more complete inventory of equipment available on the market than ever before!

One of the biggest frustrations that farmers have is needing to go multiple places to find the equipment that they’re looking for. We live in a mobile world now, and farmers expect this information to be easy to find and readily available, too. In a recent survey in collaboration with Successful Farming, 91% of farmers told us they would start the search/shopping process online for their next piece of equipment.

So, we decided to solve it. Check out the new Tractor Zoom! Faster than ever before, so you can find the right equipment RIGHT NOW!

Tractor Zoom v2.0 on a mobile device!

If you’re an equipment dealer, and you want YOUR equipment advertised on Tractor Zoom, click here and let’s get you set up with free basic advertising today!

Okay, now let’s talk Interesting Iron. We’ll kick it off with cheap horsepower!

Cheap Horsepower: 1996 John Deere 8870

1996 John Deere 8870 tractor
Big, cheap horsepower. Click the photo to see the dealer listing on Tractor Zoom!

It seems like there’s two schools of thought regarding the idea of big, articulated tractors for field work. Farmers either buy the new stuff, or they look for cheap horsepower. It doesn’t need to be new or luxurious, it just needs to work. Listed at just over $46K (this one isn’t on an auction), this 1996 John Deere 8870 definitely fits the bill!

Technically, this was the very last new SoundGard tractor that Deere ever introduced. The 70-series was the final evolution of the tractor, and the 8870 was the last “all new” model in the line. In the 60-series, there was a notable power gap between the 8760 and the 8960 (300 horse for the 8760, 370 for the 8960). When the 70-series tractors were released in 1993, Deere saw a market for a 350 horse tractor in between the 8770 and 8970, so they built the 8870 to split the difference.

The 70-series tractors were designed for long hours in the field. Deere somehow found a way to shoehorn more sound deadening insulation into the big, roomy cab. This resulted in the quietest SoundGard cabs ever – the 87- and 8870 tested at 73.5 dB! Furthermore, there was a ton of onboard storage  for tools, lunch, and all the stuff that normally ends up bumping around the cab. Lastly, the 70-series came with a fully adjustable air ride seat, making life more comfortable (as well as fighting fatigue).

Under the hood, the 8870 made good use of the 619ci big block, generating nearly 336 horse on the PTO, and over 280 at the drawbar. Coupled with a long 134″ wheelbase and an operating weight of over 35,000 pounds, this was a pretty stout tractor!

The 8870 you can buy today…

I talked to Wade at C&B Operations’ Lake Park, IA location for a few minutes this morning to find out a few more details on the tractor. He told me that the tractor is actually a customer consignment. The customer upgraded equipment this summer and doesn’t need this one anymore. It was originally sold at Evergreen Equipment in Thief River Falls, MN, and is now on its third owner with 8739 hours.

It was most recently used in the fall of ’20 with a disc for some fall tillage, and again with a field cultivator in the spring of ’21. According to the owner, it’s a very sound tractor. Interior is pretty clean, given the age. The deluxe air ride seat is clean; no rips, tears, or stains. The headliner is starting to get loose in a couple of places. It’s also Autotrac-ready; just needs a receiver!

Overall, these big tractors are pretty reliable. Hydraulic pumps can fail once in a while (usually between 6-7K hours), and I’ve heard that the air to air aftercooler will crack where the tank is welded to the core. In the event you’re reaching out to C&B on this one, you might ask about those two potential trouble spots. Otherwise, so long as they’re not beaten like a red-headed stepchild, they’re typically very durable!

See the Dealer Listing for this tractor.

The Survivor: 1981 John Deere 4440

These days, survivor John Deere 4440s are anything BUT cheap horsepower!
This 4440 is a survivor. One owner, and less than 5000 original hours!

Y’know, I thought for sure that I’d written about a 4440 before, but I just went back through the blog, and amazingly enough, I haven’t. Suffice it to say that the 4440 was an icon, and they’re prized as working tractors as well as collector’s items these days.

They’ve got a special spot in our hearts here at Tractor Zoom, too. We bought one from Jeff & Amy, owners of Slabtown Tractor Repair in Lancaster, WI in January 2020 and gave it away in a contest that ended in May. The tractor ended up on a small farm just northwest of Nashville where it’ll probably enjoy a pretty easy retirement running a baler! While we had it, though, we did have some fun with it. Here’s a couple of photos from one of the days when we took her out to stretch her legs a little. (You can find a full album of photos of the Giveaway 4440 on Tractor Zoom’s Facebook page!)

For a man from Tennessee, this John Deere 4440 actually was cheap horsepower...because he won it in our giveaway back in 2020!
During the pandemic, we pretty much had downtown Des Moines to ourselves, so we drove the tractor down there to stretch its legs a little and took some photos!
For a man from Tennessee, this John Deere 4440 actually was cheap horsepower...because he won it in our giveaway back in 2020!
For many farmers, the 4440 truly was an American Dream Machine. Even now, 40-some years later, it’s still an American icon!

The one you can buy on Saturday…

john deere 4440 at auction
This 4440 sells at an onsite auction in Cottage Grove, WI on September 18, 2021. Click the photo to see the details!

Our friends at George Auction Service are selling this 4440 at an onsite auction in Cottage Grove, WI this Saturday, September 18, 2021. Lamoine & Elaine Haefer have decided to retire after a successful 42 years on their 400 acre farm. The sale will begin at 10AM Central. When I talked to Dean George about this tractor this morning, he told me that they’d be running two rings at the sale to keep things moving a little faster.

Lamoine purchased his 4440 brand new back in 1981, and it was his pride and joy! It’s been very well kept, and it’s only got 4936 original hours on it! Dean also told me that the kids had come back to the farm last weekend and detailed the tractor, and he said it looks just great!

It’s getting harder and harder to find these low-houred hidden gems in the wild, but they’re out there if you know where to look! This is probably one of the lowest-houred one-owner 4440s we’ve seen go across the auction block in the past several years, so I won’t be terribly surprised if it brings pretty solid money. $35-40K isn’t out of the question for this tractor.

One thing to note – this is an onsite-only auction. If you’re interested, you’d best plan on a road trip this weekend. Take a friend or two and make a weekend of it; the weather looks great for Saturday!

See the auction listing for this 4440.


Farmall 1206 in a field at sunset - usually NOT cheap horsepower!
The 1206 is an American icon…but is it worth having a meltdown over?

Temper tantrums, YouTube videos, and American icons…

There was an auction at the Farm Progress Show a week or two ago, and there was a pretty 1206 that went across the block. When the hammer fell, a young man from Tennessee paid his $22,000 and loaded it up on to a long gooseneck pulled by an F-350.

An hour later, you’d have sworn that the world was about to end.

Once the news made it to social media, it caused an uproar the likes of which I’ve never seen before. People made all sorts of horrible comments about the buyer, disparaging the guy’s name, wishing him harm, and much worse. It wasn’t pretty.

This all happened because the buyer was WhistlinDiesel, a YouTuber with a reputation for destroying nice vehicles (mainly pickup trucks) on camera. People immediately assumed that this tractor would be destroyed for nothing more than views and subscriptions. Maybe they were right, maybe they were wrong. Truthfully, we’ll probably never know.

Once he got wind of all this (I know that he read the comments, because screenshots showed up on his social media), he responded like lots of us might. He bristled, and basically told everybody that if the comments didn’t stop, this 1206 would definitely be destroyed.

The comments didn’t stop.

On Monday night, he posted a video to his YouTube channel. You can pretty well guess what ensued in it. You can go out to YouTube and watch it if you want. Believe me, you won’t have a problem finding it.

I don’t know about you, but my Mom & Dad taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut. Honestly, the way the tractor fan community reacted on social media was like watching a toddler have a melt down.

Folks, we can do better. We need to do better. Kicking and screaming and hoping that the tractor rolls over with him on it is utterly ridiculous. I realize that not everybody said horrible things, but there were enough that it reflects very poorly on all of us.

My take on this whole thing…

It was his money. He earned it, and he bought something he wanted. In this case, it was a 1206. He paid for it. That means it’s his. He’s free to farm with it, turn it into a pulling tractor, sit it in a shed as part of a collection…or destroy it on camera.

I don’t get a say-so in what he does with it. Why? For the same reason I don’t get to tell you what to do with YOUR tractor…it’s not my property!

Do I wish that he wasn’t destroying it? Absolutely. The 1206 is truly an American icon. Each one of them was built by hand by real humans – not robots – here in the Midwest. They were tremendous performers, too; in its day, nothing could match its performance in the field. I’m a huge 1206 fan, and knowing that there’ll be one less makes me sad.

But, at the end of the day, do I support his right to do it? Yep. I do. Because it’s his property. He’s free to do with it what he wants. Furthermore, I know that because he gets ad revenue from YouTube based on how many people watch it. He’s using that tractor (as well as the trucks and other stuff he’s wrecked) to earn a living as a content creator. He doesn’t do this stuff for free…this is literally his job. You can’t fault the guy for doing his job, even if you don’t like what it is. To a point, one could argue that he’s using the tractor for its intended purpose…to earn a living and provide for his family.  He’s just doing it in a highly unconventional way.

The Fallout

At the end of the day, I feel like the way we as a community responded to him buying the tractor may be part of the reason that he’s destroying it. We melted down, and he realized that he’d gotten under our skin. If he wasn’t convinced that destroying a tractor would drive YouTube views (and make money), our response definitely sealed the deal for him. It’s like the proverbial car accident on the highway that everybody cranes their neck at as they drive by. They can’t not look, y’know? Well, each time we can’t not look, he makes a few more pennies. The pennies add up, folks. That’s why he’s doing it.

I feel like we might’ve been able to prevent this. If we as a community of people who love old iron had remembered the whole “if you can’t say something nice” thing that our parents taught us, he might’ve figured that the payday wasn’t worth the effort. Now that the toothpaste is out of the tube, I’m pretty sure we may see more of this. He knows it gets under our skin, and that equates to YouTube views…and money in his pocket.

Final thoughts.

I’ve watched this play out on multiple different social media platforms (and from multiple perspectives). The thing that bothers me most about this is the example that we’re putting out there for the next generation of tractor fans. When an older generation (all of us) acts out like we did, the younger generation sees it, and it somehow becomes okay, so they do it too.

Folks, that is NOT okay.

It’s okay to disagree on something, and it’s okay to share our opinions, but let’s be mature enough (if for nothing more than our own self-respect) to not start threatening others online.

We’re better than that.

I hope I don’t come across as condescending or judgy; it’s absolutely not my intent. I totally get the emotion that gets wrapped up in stuff like this. When  this happens to stuff we have a strong connection to, it brings out a lot of very raw emotion. Furthermore, this is just my opinion. You may not agree with it, and that’s okay!

Find a red tractor of your own here.

Interesting tractors and trucks selling soon, and tying up some $60K loose ends…

Collage of photos of three red tractors and a semi

You can always tell when it’s getting close to planting, harvest, and the end of the year. That’s when there’s always a massive amount of auction inventory that hits Tractor Zoom. Along with that, you’ll usually find some interesting tractors showing up too!

Such has been the case the past couple of weeks, actually. Our auctioneers have had some terrific pre-harvest sales, and there’s more coming!

Let’s hit some interesting tractors and trucks crossing the auction block, and then we’ll get to those $60K loose ends.

Allie: The 1939 Allis Chalmers B Low Rider!

Interesting Allis Chalmers B at a tractor auction
This is Allie, the 1939 Allis Chalmers B low rider from Madison, South Dakota!

See the Tractor Zoom listing for Allie here – lots more photos!

I love rat-roddy stuff, and I always have. So, when Jared Sutton listed this one late last week, I kind of fell for it!

Collectors and hot rodders have been modifying antique tractors for years now. The process is relatively straightforward; basically, the front axle turns upside down and the rear drop boxes rotated 90º. After that, it’s a process of relocating stuff (tie rods, for instance), flipping the final drives and swapping them left/right so the brakes still work, and a lot of cosmetic stuff.

This one is nicely done, too. It’s been outfitted with elephant-ear fenders (which are from a WD, I believe) and the exhaust has been re-routed under the tractor. It’s been sprayed red, too – I wouldn’t swear to it, but it looks quite a bit like IH 2150 red. That would make sense, too. Jack Bader, the man who owned this tractor, was a red collector. This is the one and only Allis Chalmers on his estate sale.

What’s it worth? Honestly, I don’t know. These low-rider tractors don’t tend to change hands very often, and because of that, there aren’t a lot of comps. This one is a fairly standard build with not a lot of extra custom touches (there are a few of these out there that are pretty wild – custom exhaust manifolds, custom wheel and tire setups, crazy paint jobs, etc.). It’s well-built, and pretty well-known, too. Bidding currently sits at $2100, but I’d imagine it’ll go for at least double that.

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t REALLY want to get in on the bidding for this one, but my lovely wife made it pretty clear that a single-seat low-rider tractor was about the LAST thing we need…

(That may rule this one out, but if I can find a two-seater…..) 😏

1987 Ford LTL 9000: Packin’ 4 ¼…

1987 Ford LTL 9000
This is a darn good-lookin’ daycab!

See the Tractor Zoom listing for this Nebraska Ford LTL 9000 – lots of photos!

The LTL 9000 came out in the mid-70s when Ford decided they wanted to play in the long-haul game with Kenworth and Peterbilt. The trucks were well-built and pretty stout, but they didn’t come with the same kind of options for powertrains and drivelines. As a result, they didn’t sell nearly as well as the W900 or the Pete 359/379. They’re still pretty darn nice trucks, though, and the styling is a little different than what you typically see running up and down the road everyday.

This one is an ’87 model day cab that, for the time being, lives in Ashland, NE. The owner restored it in 2013. It’s powered by one of the best analog powerplants you can get, too – the venerable CAT 3406B. Granted, it’s not tuned up quite like a Michigan Special, but at 435 horse, it’ll do just fine with a hopper bottom on the back! It’ll do it with some style, too!

LTL9000 Selective
Somebody took their time on this one and did it right. Lots more photos at the link up above!

IH 1468 MFWD

IH 1468 with a Coleman FWA front axle interesting tractor
For a lot of IH nuts, a 1468 FWA is one of the most desirable models ever!

See the Tractor Zoom listing for this South Dakota 1468 FWA!

OK, quit drooling. Actually, go ahead. I drooled over it for a few minutes too.

This is another one of the tractors on Jared Sutton’s auction this coming Saturday up in Madison, SD.

I wrote a fairly lengthy article about 1468s back in January talking about why Harvester built a V8-powered tractor (spoiler alert…it was all Marketing’s fault). Honestly, they look cool and they sound great, but they really aren’t much for farm tractors. The DV550 that sits in these things is tremendously fragile, but it DOES make a cool noise.

This one is probably no different, except for one or two important details. First, the Coleman FWA axle is pretty neat. It is hydraulically controlled front drive axle that you could add at the dealership when you ordered your tractor, or as an aftermarket deal. In the field, they did help with traction, but they also added a LOT to the tractor’s turning radius. I sent this to my buddy Chris the other day and he shot me back a text saying, “Man, that thing probably sounds cool, but it’ll take 40 acres to turn around!”

He’s probably not wrong, either, to be honest! 😂

The second thing that makes this tractor a little unique is the stack configuration. I believe that the manifolds on these tractors are interchangeable from side to side, so if you wanted the exhaust closer to the operator, you could do it. Most farmers didn’t because it was extra work and they look good the way they were. But, if your tractor is like Jack’s and has a canopy, you can make that thing a LOT quieter if you put the stacks in the back. The stacks poke just above the roofline, which is likely a lot quieter. Good for long days on a tractor ride, I’d imagine!

At any rate, while the 68s weren’t real successful in the field, time HAS been very kind to them. They are prized by collectors, and the rare ones that still have functional FWA axles from Coleman or Elwood fetch REALLY big money. I watched one sell back in March at the Mecum Gone Farmin’ Auction and it sold for $63,000! They sold another in June for just over $47,000, too. I think you’ll need at least $40K to play in this game. These tractors continue to appreciate; I don’t think we’ve seen the peak values for them yet!

A4T-1600: The Minneapolis Moline Maverick

Minneapolis Moline A4T-1600 interesting tractor at auction
Internally, the A4T tractors were termed “Project Maverick”…now’s your chance to own one!

See the Tractor Zoom listing for this big Moline in South Dakota – lots of photos!

Here’s a big fella you don’t see very often! The A4T-1600 tractors were Minneapolis Moline’s first foray into the 4WD market in the late 60s. As other manufacturers began building 4WDs, Moline saw their sales of FWA tractors start to slip. So, they assigned the project to an up and coming engineer in his 20s named Mike Verhulst. Mike took Project Maverick from start to finish, and even won an award from the state of Minnesota for his efforts!

You’ll note that this tractor isn’t painted in the familiar Prairie Gold paint scheme that most Molines wore. With White Motors owning Moline, Oliver, and Cockshutt, there was a lot of badge engineering that happened around that time so that they could appeal to multiple markets. There are multiple versions of this tractor, and they’re all badged and painted just a little differently. Oliver had a green one (the 2655), Moline had yellow ones and red ones, and White had one called the Plainsman. All the same basic tractor, but badged and painted just a little differently. Sort of confusing, right? My friend Sherry Schaefer does a good job ironing it all out in an article in this month’s Heritage Iron! Well worth picking up a subscription, or just ordering that issue on its own!

This particular A4T-1600 is an LP gas tractor that was originally an open station tractor, one of just 115 built! To make this one a little more rare yet, it was one of only 76 ordered with 23.1×30 tires. I’m not sure what the serial number was, but it’s safe to say that this one is fairly uncommon. I doubt you’ll see another one sell this year.

What’s it worth? Again, it’s a crapshoot here. They don’t change hands very frequently. I checked our Iron Comps database and only found one of these big 4WDs in it. It sold for $12,000 about two years ago. I think that one was more original, though. Still, with $5 corn, you might find a couple of bidders that’ll drive this one into $10-13K territory. You never know! It’ll be fun to watch!

Tying up a couple of loose ends…

The Empire from last week…

Last week, I wrote about Harold and his Empire 88 that he’d modified so that he and his wife Wilma could take her mobility scooter with them on tractor rides. It was a really neat piece; Harold was very thoughtful in the design process for the modifications, and they all came together really nicely.Highly modified red Empire tractor

Well, the hammer just dropped on that auction about an hour or so ago, and I’m happy to say that this little Empire sold for $3,193! That’s great money for an Empire – probably one of the highest sale prices ever seen for one of these little guys!

Did Harold end up coming out on top? If you asked him, he’d tell you that from the numbers perspective…no, he probably lost money on the tractor if you counted the value of his time in building and restoring it. But, from an overall perspective? I’ll bet he’s tickled to death with it. The modifications that he made to that tractor allowed he and his dear wife to do what they loved…together. What more could you ask for?

The F-250 Power Stroke from two weeks ago…

Boy oh boy, did this one ever generate some attention…

The auction wrapped up yesterday at about 11AM, and the final hammer price? A whopping $60,300!

Ford F-250 power stroke truck at auction
Yep, she really sold for $60,300.

When I posted something congratulating the seller, auctioneer, and the new buyer, I think I almost broke the internet. Man alive, people got bent outta shape about that price! They either thought that we were lying, or that the buyer had lost his mind, or some other ridiculous combination of things.

“SOMEBODY PAID SIXTY GRAND FOR THAT THING??? You’ve gotta be kidding!?!? That’s a $20K truck at most…what kinda drugs was the buyer taking?”

Yep, somebody actually wrote that.

You should see the stuff I had to delete from the thread on our Facebook page. I’m not gonna lie…there are some people with some real bad attitudes in this world, and they all seemed to find that post yesterday afternoon.

Here’s the thing that most people don’t understand about stuff like this:

    • New(ish) pickups can be collector’s items.
      Clean, low-mileage examples of OBS Fords with the 7.3 Power Stroke are becoming collector’s items. This one is 24 years old. 25 years old allows it to be titled as a collector car, and you can put collector car insurance on it.
    • Collector cars attract a different market of buyers.
      They buy stuff based on a different set of characteristics. For many of them, they’re looking at a truck like this as an investment. They’ll hold on to it for another ten years in a clean, climate controlled environment alongside six Mustangs, two Corvettes, and thirteen other old pickups that are just as nice. They won’t use it like a farm truck. They’ll take it out a few times a year just to keep it in good working order. The next time we’ll probably see it is when they decide they’re going to sell it at Barrett Jackson or Mecum…and when they do, some other collector is going to buy it for $100,000 and do the same thing with it!
    • Lastly, and most importantly…nobody got ripped off.
      Lots of people claimed that this truck was a fake, or that sketchy stuff was going on behind the scenes with this auction. None of that is true. Phil Wieck, the auctioneer, did a terrific job of documenting and presenting this pickup. He provided tons of photos, videos, and all of the information needed for buyers to decide whether or not it was worth it. Nobody rolled any odometers, nobody slapped 500 pounds of Bondo on a clapped-out farm truck and painted it and tried to pass it off as minty-fresh. This was, and is, the real deal. It’s a survivor pickup, and collectors want those!
    • If it proves anything, it proves that presentation matters.
      If you want to get top dollar for whatever you’re selling – whether it’s on AuctionTime, Craigslist, or anywhere else…presentation is important. Three photos, two of which are blurry…that ain’t gonna cut it. Drag it out of the barnyard, wash it and detail it, and take a ton of photos. Show the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be truthful in your descriptions, and show the documentation you have. Do yourself a favor and put the time and effort into presenting it nicely. I guarantee that it’ll help you get more for whatever you’re selling.

Some of you may take issue with me on this, and that’s fine. You’re welcome to your opinion. I get it; it’s tough to see a pickup that’s not quite “old” but definitely not “new” as anything more than a utilitarian piece of metal. A trusty pickup. Something to throw junk in the back of, and do truck stuff with.

Believe me, I get that. I drove past a Ford dealer every day on my way to high school back in Michigan, and I drooled over trucks just like this one too. To me, that doesn’t seem so long ago, but the numbers don’t lie. I graduated in 1996, so I’ve been out of high school for 25 years now. Those trucks still seem “new” (ish) to me, too.

Would I have thrown down $61K to own that pickup? No. But that’s the thing. I’m not a collector. I couldn’t justify a truck like that in my garage. But somebody did. To them, it was worth that much, and I chose to be happy for them because they got something that they really wanted! I don’t think they’re insane for paying that, either. They have a different perspective than I do, and that’s cool with me. I would hope that it’s cool with you, too…even if you think that it sold for too much money.

Somebody thought it was worth it. Be happy for them!

1947 Empire 88: “It’s more fun to do this together…”

Highly modified red Empire tractor

See the details on this unique Empire 88!

Back in July, I featured a pretty unique tractor rescued from a bone yard in Sioux City and turned into a hearse! It began life as a Thieman tractor, and Harold Boquist, a tractor collector from Nebraska, turned it into a hearse. (You can read about that tractor here.)

When I talked to Harold about the Thieman, I remembered him telling me that he also had another oddball tractor that he would sell later this year. It is an Empire 88, and he said that it is likely the most customized one on the planet.

This week, that tractor showed up on Tractor Zoom, and I knew I had to write about it. This truly is one of the nicest Empires on the planet, and it’s definitely the most unique!

The Cliff Notes version of Empire Tractors and their history…

I’ve written about Empires before. They were fairly run-of-the-mill light duty farm tractors built in the mid-late 40s. Empire built the frames in-house, and used surplus Jeep motors and drivelines to make ’em go. Upon completion, they sold them back to the US government under the Marshall Plan. The US government sent these little 40-horse tractors all over the place to help with WWII reconstruction!

empire tractor badge
The badge of an empire-builder!

Ultimately, their downfall came when the Argentinian government suddenly declared them unfit for farming. Oddly enough, Time magazine printed a story right about the same time that claimed that the tractors were junk as well. Within months, the company was bankrupt. The remainder of the tractors sold here in North America for about $700 apiece.

I’m not one to put on the tinfoil hat very often, but the timing sure seems suspect on this deal. I sort of feel like maybe somebody who was pretty well-connected had beef with Frank Cohen (the guy who started the company) and organized this.

But that’s not really what this story is about. This story is about what Harold did to this tractor when he restored it…and why.

Empire 88 tractor
This is what an Empire looks like in normal form (without the blade). What Harold did with it is truly remarkable! (Click the photo to see the listing!)

Making an Empire fit for a King and a Queen

Harold and his wife Wilma are in the tractor hobby together. Always have been. They’ve really enjoyed putting their unique collection of tractors on display over the years. From the Nebraska State Fair to tractor rides all over the midwest, they’ve had a blast making new friends and using their tractors!

With this one, though, the restoration was a little different. Wilma needs a scooter to get around comfortably. On a tractor ride, space is at a premium, so Harold found a unique solution to let let both of them ride along, and carry the scooter too! “If I ride, she rides,” Harold told me on the phone today!

The Cab

The Empire 88 never came with a cab, so Harold solved that problem first. He was at a sale in Iowa when he stumbled upon this cab in the photo below. It was rough, but it was exactly what he wanted.

tokheim tractor cab laying on the ground
This tractor cab came from a rather unlikely source…a gas pump manufacturer!

The cab was built by Tokheim Tank & Pump Co. out of Fort Wayne, IN. Their main business was gas pumps and tanks and such. However, they did also make a line of all-steel cabs for a few tractors like the Farmall H, M, and Cockshutt 40.

He took it home and then made it wider and taller (kind of the opposite of chopping & channeling a hot rod). When finished, he adapted it to fit on the platform of the Empire – which he had also made wider and longer. “If it was going to work, it needed to seat both of us,” he told me, “so I made it wide enough to put the two of us up there comfortably!”

A place to park a scooter!

The next challenge was to give the Empire 88 a trunk (or a flatbed, I guess), and a ramp so that Wilma could access the cab. The ramp setup unfolds by a winch. Once unfolded, Harold uses a second winch to pull the scooter up onto the platform. The winches both tie in to the tractor’s electrical system. All in all, it’s pretty slick!

red empire tractor at auction with a handicapped-accessible ramp on the operator's platform
The winch on the right unfolds the ramp. The one on the left pulls the heavy scooter up on to the platform. Neat!

When Harold finished the fabricating, the tractor was treated to a snazzy paint job (which to my eye looks a lot like Massey red and gold, but I’m not positive of it). It’s been their parade and tractor-ride tractor ever since!

What’s it worth?

Honestly, I have no idea. We’ve seen a couple of Empires come through Tractor Zoom over the past few years, but none of them have had this level of restoration or customization. There weren’t a lot of these tractors sold here in North America after the company went bankrupt in the late 40s, so they are somewhat rare. Of all of them (about 1300), this one is surely the nicest one left. That said, it is customized, and that tends to depreciate the value of rare tractors a little bit. Still, Harold did a terrific job with the workmanship, and it does serve a purpose. It’ll take a special buyer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it brings $3-4000.

At the end of the day, Harold built this Empire 88 because he loves his wife, and because the idea of doing a tractor ride without Wilma just didn’t sound like much fun. What resulted is a very well-built, very unique tractor that solves a challenge faced by more tractor folks than we probably realize. I’ll just about guarantee that somewhere, one of you reading this column has already thought of a husband and wife who this tractor would be PERFECT for – and I really hope you’ll share this article with them!

The antique tractor hobby is lots of fun, and very family-oriented. Still, due to the nature of the design, it’s not for everybody. People who love tractors but aren’t able to climb up on to them for one reason or another are sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place. This little Empire 88 would fix that challenge for somebody!

Auction Details
Bidding opens: Thursday, September 2, 2021 at 5PM Central
Bidding closes: Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 11:29AM Central
Location: Saint Paul, NE (about 45 minutes or so north of Grand Island)
Auctioneer: Sweeney Auction & Realty
Contact: 308.223.0145

Tractor Zoom auction listing & a link to place your bid!




1997 F-250 Powerstroke: The two-door time warp.

Hero 0825

See the auction details and 94 photos of this F-250 here!

In an average month, we’ll see 75-80 F-250s change hands at auctions listed on Tractor Zoom. For instance, we’ve got 20 of ’em listed as I write this (see them here). Some are pretty cherry, and some of them are absolute basketcases that are probably destined for the scrap yard.

We’ve never seen a unicorn like this, though. This one is utterly amazing.

97.F250.Powerstroke1 Copy
With just 15K on the odometer, this F-250 is probably one of the lowest mileage, most original examples left on the planet. Click the photo to see the auction listing on Tractor Zoom!

Here’s a fact that’ll blow your mind: Ford’s been cranking out F-series pickups for 73 years. The first F-series was built in 1948, and they’re now in their 14th generation of production.

This blue one is a 1997 F-250, which puts it in the 9th generation (built from 1992-1997). 9th-gens are unique, because they were the last version of the F-series where 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-ton models were styled the same way (Ford truck guys tend to refer to these as OBS – “Old body style”).

Furthermore, in 1994, Ford introduced a new engine option: the 7.3-liter Powerstroke diesel. The Powerstroke was the latest and greatest diesel engine from a long partnership between Ford and International Navistar. It was a brand new computer-controlled, direct-injected turbo V8 that was computer-controlled, and it was a pretty major improvement over anything else on the market. As a result, they sold very well.

powerstroke v8 in a ford f-250
From a performance perspective, the 7.3 Powerstroke took its competitors to the woodshed when it was released in 1994!

So what’s the story with this pretty blue F-250?

I talked with Phil Wieck, the auctioneer selling the truck, for a bit this morning. He told me that it came from either Wisconsin or Minnesota (it was sold at a Wisconsin Ford dealer in the town of Ashland, about a half hour from Duluth, so it was way up there). A man bought it back in late 1997, but only put about 15,000 miles on it before he passed away. His grandson inherited it, and from what Phil told me, it sounds like he stashed it away in a storage facility for safekeeping.

f-250 window sticker
The original window sticker and bill of sale go with the truck!

(Here’s where we need to stop and recognize the grandson for his efforts to keep Grandpa’s F-250 in good condition. There are plenty of instances where this has happened where the grandson goes bonkers at the nearest diesel performance shop and inevitably ends up destroying what started life as a beautiful thing. I don’t have a problem in the world with performance – I’m a speed freak, and I like the loud pedal as much as anybody…but don’t do it to an immaculately maintained pickup! Thanks, grandson – whoever you are – for not turning Grandpa’s pickup into a brodozer!)

Grandpa’s F-250 basically remained in storage until about 7 or 8 years ago when it was sold to a gentleman in Grand Island, NE. Phil tells me that he knew that it was a really clean pickup, and it was purchased more or less as an investment. The new owner actually parked it in an old milking parlor that he’d turned into a small climate-controlled shop. The owner estimates that he’s only put about 600 miles on it since he bought it.


Compared to the way you can trick out a pickup today, this one is pretty barebones. It’s a Northland Edition, but from what I’m told, that’s not much more than a couple of decals. People like to argue on the internet about whether or not Northlands came with heavier duty batteries and denser insulation and stuff like that. I sort of wonder if some of that isn’t fluffed-up sales guy talk, though. Higher density insulation? That seems like a reach…

At any rate, special edition aside, this is a pretty spartan truck. It’s deep blue metallic over royal blue cloth interior. Seating is a 40/20/40 split bench, so nothing real special there. AM/FM/Cassette deck, cruise, electric windows and mirrors, but that’s about it. Like I said, nothing real special.

That interior is pretty nifty, in my book!

On the exterior side, other than the bedliner and the cow catcher up front, everything is factory original. The truck does ride on fresh Firestone rubber on the 16″ aluminum wheels, which is nice. With it being driven so little, I’d imagine it would’ve been impossible to keep the tires from dry-rotting. Hoses and belts would all be a little more protected, I think, but new tires were probably a necessity.

Img (4)
I presume this is a Line-X bedliner, plus the required cheap floormats for anybody who lives in the north where we get snow!

All in all, this is a nearly perfect 1997-era farm truck. I know a half-dozen guys from back home in Michigan who had trucks just like this. The combination of 4WD with a 4-speed automatic and the grunt of a 7.3 Powerstroke would’ve been one of the most popular farm trucks you could buy back then.

What’s it worth?

That’s the million dollar question in everybody’s minds. My gut feeling is that this is probably going to sell for somewhere around $40-45K.

Here’s how I got there.

Normally when I write an Interesting Iron piece, I can look at Iron Comps to value the equipment. However, in this case, there’s nothing even remotely close to base a comparison value from. We’ve got 154 OBS F-250s in the database, but like you’d expect, a lot of them had seen better days. We’ve got nearly as many F-350s from the same era, but there again, lots of worn out trucks that didn’t fit the bill.

So, I went to Bring A Trailer, an auction site that generally specializes in higher-end, rare stuff, to see if they had anything – which they did. The closest I could find to the blue one that’s selling in September sold for – get this – $54,321!

At the end of the day, though, Bring A Trailer does tend to carry a little bit of the “BaT tax” – i.e., you’re on a collector’s site, and you’re going to end up paying more. Since this one is listed on a more equipment-focused site, the prices may be a little less “collector-ish” when the auction finishes. Either way, I think it’ll be a fun one to watch!

Wrapping up

Both Phil and I agreed that the perfect buyer for this truck is likely a farmer in their early-40s. They probably drove past their local Ford dealer’s lot every day on their way to school and saw one just like this…and every day on their way to school, they wished that Dad would stop being so practical and would just buy the darn thing!

Now that farmer’s been out of school for twenty years. He also sold last year’s corn at 7 bucks, so he’s got a little money to play with. His practical side says that he really ought to replace a hopper bottom. However, the idea of taking Dad to check pivots and look at the corn – in the pickup that they both fell in love with 25 years ago…that sounds a lot better.

(You can read that and tell me I’m off my rocker and that’s a really stupid reason to go buy a 25 year old pickup – and you might be right. But that said, I will guarantee that at least a dozen of you reading this right now are thinking, “How in the heck did Interesting Iron guy get in my head?!?!”)

Auction Details
Bidding opens: September 2, 2021
Bidding closes: September 8, 2021
Location: Grand Island, NE
Auctioneer: Wieck Realty & Auction

F-250 photos and description, and a link to the bidding platform

Public Service Announcement – If you’re a gearhead-y type person like me, maybe be careful about Bring A Trailer…you’ll find a LOT of eye candy, and I’m not responsible for whatever happens afterwards!


Chat’s Tractors: A lifetime of rescues and restorations.

photos of antique farmall, allis chalmers, oliver, and john deere tractors

Auction Details (Click here to see all of the tractors on this retirement sale!)

Date: Wednesday, August 25, 2021 – 9AM CDT
Location: Chat’s Tractors – 5117 E County Rd. 17, Avon, IL 61415
Auction Format: Online & Onsite bidding – Online bidding open now!
Auctioneer: Kyle Kelso

About an hour west of Peoria on County Road 17, you’ll find a patch of ground that’s been owned and farmed by the same family for 183 years. And in one of the outbuildings, you’ll usually find Dick Chatterton and his brother Bob wrenching on old tractors. This is the home of Chat’s Tractors.

For 30 years or more, the Chatterton brothers have built, collected, and restored the tractors they remembered growing up in the 50s. They primarily specialize in Farmall and Allis Chalmers, but every now and again they’ll fix up a two-cylinder Deere or the occasional Oliver as well.

Allis Chalmers D15 tractor
This little Allis might be the lowest-houred D15 left on the planet! 1200 original hours! Original paint, too! Click the photo to see the auction listing!

It’s been a good run, too. Chat’s Tractors has sold tractors to buyers all over the globe. Most of the customers have been here in the Midwest, but they’ve also sold tractors to buyers in Europe, too! Furthermore, in 2012, they donated a 460, a 560, a CAT D2 crawler, and a few implements to an orphanage in Nigeria! The orphanage used them to tend to the land and grow a few crops to help sustain the village.

Calling it a career…

The Chatterton brothers have really enjoyed the rescue and restoration work, but as they’re both getting on in years, they’ve decided to retire. There are lots of grandkids to have fun with, and that doesn’t leave a lot of time for tractors!

Dick & Bob are each keeping a few pieces that are special to them, but even after keeping a few, this is a pretty big sale! Nearly 40 tractors will go home with new owners! They’re not all brand new restorations, but there’s a nice mix of older restorations, newer ones, and unique tractors on this sale!

Farmall Super M-TA Diesel tractor
One of only about 2700 built (and only in 1954), this Farmall Super M-TA Diesel has been nicely restored!

For those of you heading out to Rantoul for the Half Century of Progress show, it’s not terribly far out of your way if you’re coming on 74! Our friend Kyle Kelso will kick things off at about 9AM!

Most of the tractors on the sale have been restored by the Chatterton brothers over the years, but there are a couple in the collection that came from elsewhere. Here’s a couple of those.

1949 Farmall M Fearday
In central & southern Illinois, the name Jerry Fearday is synonymous with top-quality Farmall restorations. This was one of his projects that found its way to Chat’s. Love the custom paint job on this one!
1953 Farmall Super M Custom
Another of the unique pieces in the Chat’s Tractor collection, this 1953 Super M is fitted with a pair of seats and a custom ROPS in addition to the beautiful paint job! This Farmall is one of the ones Bob & Dick may miss the most. It was a great tractor ride tractor!

The Super B-TA fantasy tractor…

Farmall fantasy tractor
This is what happens when you wash your Farmalls in the hot water cycle. Click the photo for a few more photos of this unique little fella!

Of all of the neat stuff in this sale, though, this one was the one that really caught my attention. They call it a Super B-TA – something of a fantasy name, as Farmall never made one. It’s a neat little custom that they found quite a few years ago at a shop near Keokuk, IA. Apparently the guy wanted something unique for his kids to tootle around on the farm with. Apparently the kids either outgrew it or didn’t really take to it. So, Bob made the guy an offer, and ended up taking it home to Chat’s Tractors!

I really don’t know what it’s built on as far as a chassis goes – maybe a chopped Farmall H or an M? Either way, it’s got a 5-speed transmission and a TA lever that I’m not sure is functional. The powerplant is a single-cylinder Wisconsin gas motor with an electric start. Dick told me that it only does about 5 miles an hour in road gear, so it’s definitely not a tractor ride candidate!

The stubby, almost cartoonish appearance of this tractor has made it a favorite on the internet over the past fifteen years. There have been LOTS of arguments about this tractor and whether or not it could’ve ever come from Farmall and what’s in it, etc. Now’s your chance to buy it and find out!

Click here to see what’s on the Chat’s Tractor auction!

Date: Wednesday, August 25, 2021 – 9AM CDT
Location: Chat’s Tractors – 5117 E County Rd. 17, Avon, IL 61415
Auction Format: Online & Onsite bidding – Online bidding open now!
Auctioneer: Kyle Kelso




Jackson 4-44: The Edgeley Rebel

angled front photo of a Jackson 4-44 tractor at auction sitting in front of a cornfield on a sunny summer day
The Jackson Mfg. Co. built just 16 tractors between 1969-1972. This is one of them.

See the auction details on this tractor

If you think about it hard enough, anything can be rare if you describe it right. Even stuff like a 4430. You’ll see stuff like that at auctions once in a while, too. “This is the only 4430 ever sold in 1974 to a guy named Frank, living in Minnesota, who always ate a chicken salad sammich for lunch – but only on Tuesdays…when he wore red socks.”

Yeah…this isn’t that kind of tractor.

Jackson tractors are pretty darn rare.

Jackson tractor front grill
Jackson tractors are truly rare, and this particular one is probably the only one like it. Hit the photo to see the details on this tractor – and a bunch of photos!

The Jackson Mfg. Co. is a somewhat elusive company. Not elusive in a bad way, just awfully hard to track down. With a fairly common last name in the company name, that’s not terribly surprising. A Google search will probably turn up some kind of result in nearly every state in the union. Quite frankly, there just isn’t much information about this company and the tractors they built!

So that all having been said, it’ll be challenging to tell this story, but I’ll give it a shot!

Necessity is the mother of invention…?

Erval D. Jackson lived in Edgeley, ND, and he was the man who founded the Jackson Manufacturing Co. back in the sixties. My guess – and this is strictly a guess – is that he was like a lot of farmers from the upper Great Plains. Traditional farm equipment didn’t work well for the big expansive fields up there. As a result, several companies began innovating, creating bigger tractors – Steiger and Big Bud being the most notable.

Anyway, Erval was a guy who was pretty handy, and loved to invent things. In 1969, he started building tractors. Like other big tractors of the day, they were essentially component tractors. Builders like Erval would source engines and drivelines from whomever they could get them from, and basically drop them into a frame.

There were three (I’ve heard rumors that there may have been a fourth model) models that Jackson built; the 4-53, the 4-44, and the 534. The 4-53 and 534 both used Detroits for power, and the 4-44 used a Cummins V504C. I’m not sure who supplied the transmission, but I know that in the 4-44, it was a 5-speed with a 2-speed rear end.

The tractors were, from what I understand, pretty spartan. No real creature comforts to speak of. The company wasn’t very successful in the long run, either. In fact, Jackson built only 16 tractors between 1969-1972! From what I understand, though, they all still exist and most are still working!

The one you can bid on right now…

Jackson 4-44 tractor at auction
This particular Jackson tractor is pretty unique, in that it’s been re-powered with a 6V-92 Detroit! It sells at an Indiana collector’s auction on Saturday, August 21! Click the photo for more details!

This is likely the most famous Jackson tractor on the planet. It’s owned by Chris Wathen, a noted tractor collector in Evansville, IN. Jason over at Big Tractor Power has shot footage of this tractor (as well as the rest of Chris’s collection) on multiple occasions for his YouTube channel. Here’s one of those videos from a few years ago. The collection has grown a little since then, I believe!

One of one…(probably)

So what makes this particular Jackson tractor so unique? Well, as far as anybody is aware, this is the only re-powered 4-44 on the planet. The previous owner wanted more power, and made a pretty solid choice as far as engines go, too. He yanked the Cummins V504C (which is fairly similar to the 555 “Triple Nickel”) in favor of a Detroit 6V-92 Silver Series. That big Detroit packs a punch, too – it’s rated at 350 horse! That’s a far cry from the 210-horse Cummins that it originally had!

I had the opportunity to chat with Chris for a bit about this tractor yesterday, and he told me that while his collection is pretty focused on component tractors, he typically stays away from re-powers with massive power bumps. “Power will always find weakness,” he said, and with my background in tractor pulling, I definitely agree with that. However, Jackson tractors didn’t skimp on driveline components, and even with the bigger motor, he’s never had any problems with it. He did mention one thing that I found pretty interesting. The axles for the tractor were built by Rockwell. The tag even says something to the effect of “Rockwell for Jackson Mfg.” With such a small number of tractors built, I’m surprised that Rockwell would’ve even tooled up for an order that small!

The ideal buyer…

At the end of the day, Jackson tractors were reasonably well-built, but very spartan when it came to creature comforts. They had ample power and weight for farming the Great Plains. However, when it came to finishing touches, they left a little to be desired. For instance, no A/C. Today’s high temp. in Edgeley, ND is 94º F. If you’re in that tractor this afternoon…it’s going to be a sweatbox!

Chris has fielded a lot of phone calls about this tractor, but he got the feeling that a lot of them are tire kickers. I suppose that for a tractor like this, that’s going to be the nature of the beast. People are curious. They’ve never seen one before; heck, lots of you folks reading this are probably in the same boat! (Full disclosure: I am too – I’d heard of the brand but until Chris’s auction listed on Tractor Zoom, I’d never seen what one looked like either!)

At the end of the call yesterday, we both agreed that the ideal buyer for this tractor is a collector who’ll appreciate it for what it is. A tractor built by a guy with a little bit of a rebel streak in him. A guy who, when the right solution for a problem didn’t exist, created one of his own!

What’s it worth?

I have absolutely no idea, and I doubt anybody else does either. Truthfully speaking, I don’t think a Jackson has rolled across the auction block in decades! It’ll be interesting to see what it sells for – and who it goes home with!

Get the auction details here.

There’s quite a bit of really cool stuff on Chris’s auction on August 21, 2021. Check it all out here!

One more thing…

One of the reasons that Chris is a collector of component tractors is because of his dad. His father actually built two of them back in the late-60s/early-70s. One was a 4WD, and the other was a 2WD that looked like a front wheel assist tractor. Both saw use on the farm for a while, and then traded away at local dealerships. Chris tracked down the 4WD at a scrap yard a few hours away, and saved it from imminent destruction (had he talked to them just a couple of days later, that tractor would’ve been scrapped and lost to history). They’ve since restored it and it sits proudly in the collection.

The 2WD, however…that’s a different story – and it might be one that YOU can help with!

Chris’s dad traded the tractor in to a dealership in Evansville in the mid-70s. Chris remembers that it sat on the lot for a few months before moving to the back row. At some point, it disappeared from the lot, and that’s where the trail went cold.

The family desperately wants to find it again, and they need your help to do it. Here’s a few photos that the family has of the tractor. I realize they’re not much to go on, but if you live within a few hundred miles of Evansville, maybe show these to the older farmers in the area and see if it rings any bells.

Chris Wathen’s dad built this tractor in his shop in the late 1960s. It disappeared after Chris’s dad traded it in at a dealership in the mid-70s. Do you know where it is?

The tractor was red (even though it looks orange in this photo) and the wheels are white. The powerplant was a 220 Cummins, and it had a 10-speed RoadRanger in it. It was a bareback tractor with two remotes.

Here’s a better photo, from a color perspective. To me, this looks a lot like either Massey red or IH 2150 Red.

It’s a long shot, but we hope that one of you knows where this tractor is today. While it’s highly unlikely, we’ve both got our fingers crossed that it’s stashed in a barn somewhere with a tarp over it. The power of social media is an amazing thing, folks. Even if you don’t recognize this tractor, it might ring a bell for somebody you know, so please share this article on your social media!

Still, if these photos DO ring a bell for you, please call or text Chris Wathen at 812.483.9391. He’s a very nice guy, and he’d be eternally grateful for any leads you have!

Chris Wathen: 812.483.9391

Special thanks to my buddy Nellson Stout for the cover photo. He’s had a little hands-on time with the tractor not too long ago and snapped that one!

Peterbilt 359: Ain’t no feelin’ like Petermobilin’!

Collage of photos of a black Peterbilt 359 day cab semi truck at an auction
This Wisconsin Peterbilt 359 is ready for gear-jammin’! Sells on a Wisconsin consignment auction on Friday, July 23, 2021!

See the auction listing on this classic Pete

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!

Passenger side view of a black Peterbilt 359 on a sunny summer day
The 359 is an American icon if there ever was one. Hit the photo to see the details on this one – it sells on Friday, July 23!

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!

A low angle photo of the nose of a Peterbilt 351 on a sunny summer day
The Pete 351 earned the nickname “Needle-Nose Pete” and it’s pretty easy to see why. Later models would widen up the nose considerably to allow for a bigger motor and better cooling. They sure look cool, though!

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).

      1. 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!
      2. 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).
      3. 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.
Driver's side view of a black Peterbilt 359 day cab semi on a bright sunny day.
The lines of the Peterbilt 359 lines really are classic, aren’t they? I think they look good as day cabs, too! Hit the image to see the auction details for this one!

The truck that you can buy on Friday…

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.

Peterbilt 359 shift knob
I still think these are the coolest shift knobs on the planet and you’ll have a hard time convincing me otherwise…

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.

Driver's side interior, dashboard, and steering wheel of a Peterbilt 359 day cab
Peterbilt’s curved dash in the 359 is very similar to the dash in early Corvettes. Useless Trivia: The “Corvette dash” option was actually called “The Dash of Class” on the order blank!

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. 

Wrapping Up

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’!

Get the details on this classic Peter-mobile!

Browse trucks at auction

Also, smile pretty at the west bound 36 yard stick…there’s a Kojak with a Kodak waitin’ for ya.


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