Farm Credit Makes a Digital Transformation with Iron Comps

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An open mind, industry knowledge, and a commitment to excellence are driving innovation at Compeer Financial

Mike Morris, VP of Appraisal for Compeer Financial, is well-known in farm appraiser circles in the Midwest, and within the Farm Credit System. He was recently named to the IL Society of Professional Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers hall of fame and currently serves on the Real Estate Appraisal Administration and Disciplinary Board for the State of Illinois . He also spent 10 years on the board (serving one term as president) of the IL Coalition of Appraisal Professionals, too. At first glance, his accolades could make people think he’s an industry vet sitting at a big desk behind a sign saying “This is the way we’ve always done it.”

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Will the real Mike Morris please stand up?

The real Mike Morris? He’s an industry innovator.

In 2017, 1st Farm Credit Services, AgStar Financial Services, and Badgerland Financial united as Compeer Financial. Mike was tasked to lead Compeer’s appraisal efforts. His mission? Develop innovative solutions to do better for their clients – American farmers.

“In Compeer’s pursuit to provide the best possible service to our farmers, we knew we had to be continually looking to improve and innovate. One of the first challenges that I had running the real estate and chattel appraisal groups was, ‘How do we tap into this massive source of data throughout the Midwest?’”

Through their own research, Compeer learned that their appraisers knew the local market well. However, it wasn’t efficient to go very far outside of their area to gather data.  Furthermore, once they did get the data, it came from so many sources that it took a tremendous amount of time to standardize and analyze it all. At the end of the day, they needed a consistent, standardized data source that wasn’t specific to one auction. They needed a bigger picture – one that they didn’t need to develop themselves.

“We knew there was a lot of data out there. We just weren’t as comprehensive as we needed to be. [There are] several regional sources that are really good, but nobody was aggregating it.”

It was in this search for the solution that Mike’s deep industry knowledge was key. He understood that standardized data was the key to his team’s success, especially data that can be sorted by time and location.

“It was essential to have a single source that aggregated the data to use in our farm equipment evaluations. In the past, if someone went into a website on a Monday and got information for a specific tractor or combine, then someone went out a month later, that data might be completely different. Coming from a real estate background, my bias is toward having actual market data.”

The Search

Compeer put out a request to potential vendors asking them to aggregate all this massive amount of data, organize it, and bring it back in. It had to be robust, accurate, and transparent.

“Compeer didn’t really want a black box answer – i.e., push a button to get a value. We were already really good at [getting that value] ourselves. We needed a way to put the data in our own hands efficiently and then let our trained chattel appraisers make the determination of the final value using that data.”

Mike learned long ago that innovation is everywhere, not just in The Silicon Valley. To that end, he intentionally reaches out to progressive companies who push the boundaries of what is possible.

That’s where he met us.

“We met Mike through a mutual friend who was also in the Ag-Tech space who knew he was forward-thinking and always looking for better solutions to age-old problems,” stated Jeremy Hewitt VP of Sales at Tractor Zoom and Iron Comps.

Mike’s drive for innovation did not stop with finding a partner. He was very clear in his expectations of the scope of work. That set the bar not only for his internal team, but also for us, too. People who love their work will typically rise to meet a worthy challenge – and for us, this was definitely worthy.

“We really challenged the Iron Comp team to make enhancements along the way. Things that help us do our jobs better and to innovate in the future. Iron Comps has been very responsive to our requests. They work closely with our team to make changes and improvements. Some of them even happen in real time!”

The Results

Two of the biggest ongoing benefits of Mike’s approach are access to robust data and massive time-savings. “Our travel evaluators spent countless hours finding, analyzing, and putting data into spreadsheets to make it useful. I would say they probably spent as much as 40 or 50% of their time on that process! What Iron Comps has allowed us to do is push that process back to [Iron Comps]. Instead of following up on every individual auction, we can validate that data internally. We can confidently say, ‘Yes, the data you are getting matches what we see out in the country.’ Ultimately, Iron Comps has saved our team a ton of research time. Finally, my team can really focus on what they are very good at! Furthermore, they’ve got 40-50% more time to devote to it, too!”

“Iron Comps has also helped us standardize our data set compared to where we were before. An appraiser in Illinois might’ve used a different set of data than say someone in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Now they all have access to the same, larger set of data. It’s so much more robust and comprehensive compared to what we dealt with before.”

From where we’re sitting, an open mind to new partners, deep industry knowledge, and die-hard devotion to high standards made all the difference in the world to this project – both for us as well as the team at Compeer Financial. Furthermore, it allows them to focus on what they do best – continually doing better for their farmers! While this is reason enough to invest in Iron Comps and its capabilities, they’re just getting started. There’s lots more innovation on the horizon!

Does this tractor make my planter look big?

John Deere DB88
We like big planters and we cannot lie…

While checking fields with my dad last summer, he pointed out some low strips in our neighbor’s corn field. They were equally spaced about every 100 feet. Apparently the neighbor was pulling one of his big planters (a 48-row) with a pretty big 4WD, and the weight caused compaction in those rows. This led to an interesting argument discussion about what the “perfect” planter was. We never did agree on one, but it was an entertaining discussion while riding in the side by side.

There are consequences to every choice and farm equipment is no different. It’s a matter of knowing the pros and cons for your operation. Since I was riding shotgun, I pulled up Iron Comps Insights on my phone to understand the value of 48- and 36-row planters. Some farmers got some seriously good deals on planters at auction, especially given the price of a new one! Case in point: late last year, a nice 36-row Kinze 3700 sold in WI for $22K!
Kinze 36 Row Planter
Bargain Alert: This Kinze 3700 36-row planter sold at a WI retirement auction for $22K!
Price aside, though, another key factor with implements this large is how you’re going pull it. Most manufacturers recommend at least 350 horses to pull a 48-row planter. That probably won’t come as a shock to most of you, but if you were planning on using the trusty John Deere 8400 for a 36-row or bigger, you’ll be in for a pretty rude awakening.
Brice Volker 4640 Kinze 8 Row
Brice Volker’s 4640 is enough for the 8-row Kinze he drags with it, but not a lot more…
I was curious to know the difference in the horsepower of farmers’ tractors between those who own a large (36-rows+) planter compared to those with a more moderate 24-row, I dove into Iron Comps. Our Insights tool was essential for this because it lets me filter auctions by type. So, I set the filter to only include estate and retirement auctions narrows the results to individual farm fleets. Finally, I split those auctions in two groups. The first sold 24-row planters and the second sold 36-row planters (or more). Of those two, I looked at the data to see the percentage of tractors sold in different power ranges. You can see the results in the graphs below.
There is no doubt that big planters require a big tractor. What’s most surprising is that farms with a large planter had such a small number of sub-300 horse tractors.
A 24-row may only be half the width of a large planter, but it’s still a pretty big implement. For auctions that sold one, you find a lot more high-power tractors when compared with all tractors sold at retirement and estate sales.
As we approach planting season, know there are a good number of quality planters on the market. Just make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than what your operation can handle!

Shop planters at auction right now.

(Originally published in March 2021 on the Iron Comps blog.)

Big Bad John: The John Deere 6030

John Deere 6030
This big bad John Deere 6030 lives in southwest Iowa until the auction closes on December 16, 2020! Click the photo to see the details and lots more photos!

SEE THE AUCTION LISTING FOR THIS TRACTOR

Ah, the John Deere 6030. My very favorite Deere of all time. If anything wearing green and yellow paint ever screamed “Muscle Tractor” louder than the 6030, I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve been waiting for a really nice example to write about, and this one happens to be fairly close to me, too!

The History of the John Deere 6030

Introduced in late 1971, the John Deere 6030 was essentially the final evolution of the 5010/5020 series tractors. They were both good enough tractors, but they seemed clumsy and heavy, like they couldn’t really get out of their own way. When the 6030 came out, that clumsy image of Deere’s “big” tractors went away pretty quickly.

What was the secret sauce? The motor. The 531 big block, in its most powerful naturally aspirated form, only turned out about 140 horse. While that was probably acceptable for the early sixties, it didn’t fly in the horsepower wars of the early 70s. To address the demand, a turbocharged 531 was introduced in the 6030 and boy, that made a big difference! Where the naturally aspirated motor made 140 horse, the turbocharged model was rated at about 175!

In 1972, Deere did offer a naturally aspirated version of the 6030 that made the same 140 horse that the 5020 made. Almost nobody bought them. A total of 45 naturally aspirated 6030s were ordered before they came to their senses and pulled the option off of the order forms in 1973. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of them sell at an auction. They’re rare animals for sure.

Don’t worry about the mule…just load the wagon!

The John Deere 6030 sold very well over its five-year production run. Word traveled pretty fast that the big brute was not only pretty light on its feet, but it was WAAAAAY underrated from the factory. The Nebraska test showed about 176 on the PTO, but if I had to guess, the test mule was probably set up for fuel economy – not horsepower. Legend has it that most of the 6030s that rolled off the assembly line in Waterloo made well north of 200 horse, which would definitely make them a little on the thirsty side. Heck, I’ve heard stories about dealer demo tractors that turned close to 250 horse on the dyno!

6030 Uselesstrivia Copy

Deere took no prisoners when it came to the 6030. At the end of the day, it was the biggest, baddest 2WD to ever roll off of the assembly line in Waterloo, and there wasn’t much it couldn’t do. But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) when you sell a farmer a tractor that you claim will do anything they want it to do, inevitably farmers are going to say, “Well…let’s see what this ol’ girl can do!” The weak link, if there was one, was the axles. When word got out that these were overbuilt monsters out in the field, farmers started piling the weights and pulling heavier and heavier implements. Under super-heavy loads, the axle would flex enough to snap. Deere solved this towards the end of the model run by up-sizing the axle a little bit to 4″.

There was another issue, too; this time, with the motor. See, once in a while, the 531 wouldn’t like a heavy load, either. When the big block was under too much load, it did what heavily loaded motors tend to do…spin bearings. Because of that, it’s not uncommon to find a 6030 with a replacement motor in it. The motor of choice was typically the 619, introduced with the 8630 in 1975. It was essentially a direct bolt-in motor, and upped the power to 275! Talk about a muscle tractor!

Details on THIS 6030

Late last week, I had the opportunity to grab lunch with Jake Rice (Rice Auction Co. – Clearfield, IA), a good friend of mine and the auctioneer who’s handling this sale. This is a GORGEOUS 6030, folks. It’s a late 1974 model with about 7700 original hours. The motor is original to the tractor as well. It’s sporting nearly new rubber all the way around (20.8-38s on the back, and 11-16s in the front) as well as fresh paint. The seller purchased this tractor out of Brad Walk’s collection about 7 years ago.

That last part is important…

Who’s Brad Walk and why is that important?

Well, there are “6030 guys”…and then there’s Brad. Brad Walk is a collector and restorer ( My6030 ) who lives about an hour south of Champaign, IL. Brad has earned the reputation as “the go-to guy” for any and all things related to the John Deere 6030. If you need parts, he’s your guy. If you need one restored, he’s your guy. Or, if you want one with a built 619 with a bumpin’ custom stereo wearing floaters, Brad’s your guy. He’ll basically build anything you like! His collection is very cool, too; among many other tractors, he’s got the first 6030 (serial number 33000) ever built, and the last NA 6030 to be sold here in the States! Number 33000 took nearly two years to restore!

What’s it worth?

The John Deere 6030 is one of those tractors that seems to go up and down in cycles. Five years ago, you probably could have bought one in pretty good shape for $16-17K, but over the years the average prices of these tractors have gone up by about $5K. But those are for your average tractor. This one isn’t average by a long shot.

When the hammer drops next Thursday (December 16, 2020), I’m pretty sure the bid is going to be somewhere in the $30-32K range. It’s a beautiful tractor, sits just right, and for a John Deere collector (or a muscle tractor collector), this one will tick off pretty much every box on the checklist!

The Ultimate Versions of the Ultimate Muscle Tractor: Custom One-Offs

One of the reasons that I have a thing for 6030s is because they’re unique. With only 4042 of them produced, they’re not all that common. I don’t remember ever seeing a 6030 on a farm as a kid growing up in West Michigan, so I sort of looked at them as unicorns.

Well, there’s a handful of guys in the midwest who have taken that unicorn concept to another level, essentially building their own versions of the ultimate muscle tractor. Here are a few that stand out in my mind.

6030.hfwd.custom
John Deere never built a 4WD version of the 6030; adding another big heavy front axle and the components to make it work just didn’t make any sense. But where there’s a will, there’s a way…
6030.soundgard
There’s a handful of 6030s sporting Soundgard cabs running around the country. This one is probably one of the nicest ones I’ve seen. The fit and finish is just about perfect on it!
MarkBuchanan.6030T
This is probably the ultimate 6030 fantasy tractor. There’s a ton of videos on the internet of this one dragging everything from a chisel plow to a pulling sled! Really neat tractor!

The Tractor Pulling Connection

Another reason I really love the 6030 is because so many pulling tractors wear 6030 sheet metal. It seems like nearly every pulling class across the country has a handful of ’em, and since I shoot so much pulling every year, I tend to see a lot of them. Here are a few 6030s that I’ve shot over the past 10 years.

DSC01611
If you pay attention to the 4.1 Limited Pro Stock class, you probably know this tractor. Justin Wagler’s Real Deere is in a class all by itself. I’ve never seen a tractor run harder, and I’ve rarely ever met a nicer guy. Justin is currently beginning work on a Pro Stock to campaign on the Champion’s Tour in 2021.
DSC05542
The young lady in the pink helmet is my friend Sydnee Summers, and she stole the Colorblind tractor right out from under her dad’s nose while he wasn’t looking! The Summers family lives just outside of Kansas City, and 2020 was the year that Sydnee really upped her driving game. She routinely beats up on the boys, and does it with a smile! My guess is that Dad’s going to have to start shopping for another tractor here pretty soon so he can have fun behind the wheel again!
Curtis.selective
The man in the seat of this one is the bravest man I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet. He’s in the fight of his life right now with brain cancer, and the outlook is very grim. Still, you’ll rarely find Curtis Lewis without a great big smile on his face, even when he’s having a hard day.
DSC08272
This is one of those big bad huge-cube profarms from Wisconsin. Cody & Tyler Meister own this one together, and I’m proud to call those fellas my good friends.
DSC05880
I’ll bet I’ve taken a thousand photos of different 6030s, but this one will probably always be my favorite. The tractor belongs to Shawn Work, a friend of mine from Ohio. Since I took this photo in 2016, he’s done a LOT to this tractor; I’m looking forward to seeing it again in a few weeks!
River Rat
This is literally the first tractor that made me cheer when it pulled on to the track. I was 8 at the time, and I was pretty sure Don & Kevin Masterson were the biggest rock stars in the universe. (I still think that, and I still feel like that 8 year old kid walking into their trailer today.)

So that’s the wrapup on the John Deere 6030, and why I think it’s the coolest tractor to wear green and yellow paint! Go bid on this one on Jake Rice’s sale so I’m not tempted to start spending money I don’t need to be spending! ?

 

John Deere 6030
SEE THE AUCTION LISTING FOR THIS TRACTOR

Final Hammer Price: $36000 (3rd highest price this year!)

What’s My Tractor Worth? (Pt. 2)

“What’s my tractor worth?” is a question that we hear about farm equipment values ALL THE TIME. We wrote a blog post about it a year or two ago, and it’s consistently one of our most popular posts. It’s also the primary reason that we created Iron Comps Insights!

SE Iowa farmer saves BIG BUCKS on farm equipment

Recently, one of our customers contacted us with a pretty awesome story about how his Iron Comps Insights annual membership saved him a ton of money on his last equipment purchase. Rather than us rewrite the whole story though, here’s Brandon to tell you what happened!

The farm Brandon was looking at came with a few pieces of equipment as part of the deal. He knew what the ground and the structures were worth, but the farm equipment was the wild card. Furthermore, he’s a busy guy; between the livestock he raises and the acres that he farms, there aren’t a lot of spare hours to research equipment values.

So how much did he save?

Glad you asked. Hear it from him!

Like we said earlier, he’s busy. He didn’t have time to sit in front of a computer staring at a bunch of auction windows trying to find out what tractor was worth. We gave him the ability to do all the due diligence on his phone, and it saved him a ton of time (and money)!

So what’s the ROI of Brandon’s Iron Comps membership? It was pretty easy math!

Quickmath Copy
The math is pretty easy. Sign up for an Iron Comps Insights member ship, and save money on your next equipment purchase!

At the end of the day, we built Iron Comps to help farmers across the country make smarter buying and selling decisions when it comes to farm equipment. Whether you’re using it to find reliable farm equipment values for the stuff in your shed, a piece of equipment that you’re looking to pick up, or a piece you’re trying to sell, it’ll be easier and faster with an Iron Comps Insights membership.

If you’re still not convinced, we’d invite you to test drive it for yourself. No risk, no credit card necessary, nothing. Hit this link to get signed up and see if it doesn’t save you time and help you make smarter decisions! We think the proof is in the pudding!

Test-drive Iron Comps Insights today!

 

 

Allis Chalmers 185: The Tacoma of farm tractors?

Allis Chalmers 185

Somewhere, one of you is reading this and thinking, “Oh boy…here we go again. Another weird analogy between a farm tractor and a random Toyota vehicle… ?”

Stick with me for a minute. This one makes pretty good sense.

Does anybody else feel like there must’ve been an Allis 185 in nearly every barn in the midwest?

Nope? Just me, huh?

Well, regardless of whether I’m right or wrong, the Allis Chalmers 185 was one of the cornerstones of AC’s 100-series tractors. Allis Chalmers sold almost 15,000 of these things over 11 years of production (1970-1981). Sure, John Deere sold a 4430 every 36 minutes for 5 years straight, but that was a 139-horse tractor in the age of modern power farming. The 185 had a small-cube naturally-aspirated motor that only made 83 horse!

So why was it so popular? From where I’m sitting, the 185 was just about perfect for chores. I looked in our Iron Comps database (it’s basically the blue book of farm equipment) and nearly 20% of the 185s in there were sold with a loader or a bale spear attached to them!

What it boils down to, I think, is their size. The beauty in a tractor of this size is that it can do a lot of things that a big tractor CAN’T…because it’s too big! The 185 is about 15% (ish) smaller than a 4430 or a 1066 (the “big” tractors of the era). Still, the 301-cube inline six makes enough power that it can do big tractor things if it has to. There are still thousands of 185s on farms across America earning their keep by mowing ditches, running augers, and loading hay bales.

Do you know why the Toyota Tacoma is so popular? Aside from being really well-built, it’s because they’re big enough to do full-size truck things, but it’s small enough to still fit in a standard two-stall garage in the suburbs. That’s exactly why the Allis Chalmers 185 was so popular!

Allis Chalmers 185
Click the photo for lots more photos and details about this 4153-hour, one-owner tractor! It goes home to a new owner on Sunday, October 4, 2020!

This one happens to be a lot nicer than your average 185, too. It’s a one-owner tractor from up in Minnesota, and it’s only got 4153 original hours on it. It lived a pretty easy life, too; the former owner used it mainly for dragging a 175-bushel gravity wagon and pulling an 18′ disc in the spring. So, if you’re looking for a really nice do-it-all kind of tractor that’ll hustle through small fields or spin an auger for hours on end, this little Allis might be perfect for you! My good friend Matt Maring are handling this sale, and it ends on Sunday!

Oh…one more thing. It was the 3rd one off the line in 1979!

Here’s a little of the Allis Chalmers 185 advertising that was available at local AC implement dealers.

Allis Chalmers 185 brochure
The 175 and 185 tractors were sometimes sold with a dealer-installed (?) Crop Hustler decal that coincided with some of the advertising. The working theory was that if you offloaded your 170 or 180, the 175 & 185 offered a pretty good boost in power for not a lot of extra money. More power = more capability to hustle through the crops…hence the Crop Hustler designation.
185 brochure
Everybody farms in khakis, a buttondown, and a fedora, right?
Allis Chalmers 185 Crop Hustler
Gotta love the frost green 1971 Camaro in the background, right? (What? You don’t drive your F-body out in the pasture for funsies?)

If you’re looking for Allis Chalmers iron, start here!

Need to find out what your Allis (or any other farm equipment) is worth? Click here and get Iron Comps Insights!

John Deere ProDrive: Worth it in used combines?

John Deere ProDrive S670 Combine
Does it make sense to look for a used John Deere ProDrive combine? Hit the photo to browse combines at auction!

The Backstory

Not too long ago, my buddy Dustin and I were working on his S670, getting it ready for harvest. He’s a farmer in northern Iowa, and his combine is getting up there in years. He was debating over whether to continue to repair it, trade up to a different used model, or buy a brand new one. Dustin knows his equipment better than just about anybody I know, but I could see that his head was spinning. With so many options on the market right now, I’m sure he’s not the only one!

The Problem

One of the unknowns he was wrestling with was about the transmission. Is a John Deere ProDrive (essentially an IVT system) the way to go, or is a conventional 3-speed the better idea? Try Googling that question sometime; you’ll find so many passionate opinions on the ag message boards that you’ll give yourself a monster of a headache! Eric in western New York says, “ProDrive is a must have!” Two lines later a guy in southern Illinois comments that he absolutely hated the one he’s got now and he can’t wait to get rid of it!
While the debate still goes on, the general consensus is that ProDrive transmissions make better use of torque from the motor. In turn, that makes it easier to maintain speed in the field (especially useful in hilly ground like Dustin’s). The trade-off for the increased efficiency is that the option itself is more money when they’re new, they’re slower on surface roads, and depending on who you listen to, they’re a lot bigger headache when they break.
So, to try and help Dustin, I told him I’d do some analysis on it using our Iron Comps data to see what effect ProDrive had on residual value. I couldn’t help him weigh all of his unique pros and cons. That said, I do have access to a huge database full of farm equipment auction results. I knew that I could help him with the numbers aspect.

The Math

I’ll admit, I was curious as to how it would shake out. I knew there would be a “ProDrive Premium”. But at some point, I figured there would be a point where that started tailing off. I also wondered if there was a point where the 3-speed became a better option.
I made a call to a local dealer and found that an S670 with ProDrive sold for about $428K in 2015 (ProDrive was a $7K option). So with that baseline number, I went into our Iron Comps database. It’s powered by Tractor Zoom’s auction data, and captures over 55% of the market, more than any other source. We’ve got close to 150 S670 sales just within the past two years in the database. It’s a numbers game and the bigger the data set, the more confident we can be in our results.

Graph showing separator hours vs. sale price.
Separator hours typically have a large effect on combine values. The graph below shows how the sale prices fall as the sep hours increase. 
The table below breaks down the values even more into three scenarios of combines with 600, 1200, and 1800 hours. The first row shows the expected average value for ProDrive S670s. The second row is the expected value of a S670 with a 3-speed. The bottom ‘ProDrive Premium’ percentage is the amount that could be attributed to the ProDrive for that age of combine.
The results for the newer combine affirm what ProDrive advocates have been preaching. A ProDrive in our dataset with 600 separator hours should sell for about $185K at auction. Its 3-speed counterpart, just $163K! A difference of $22K (13% premium) is a lot bigger number than the $7K option when it was new! This indicates that there’s definitely a demand for these combines – especially those without a ton of hours!
As the combine ages, so does excitement for the ProDrive. So much that it is essentially negligible at 1800 hours. A likely explanation is the cost to repair a ProDrive, which older machines are more likely to need. Typical repair bills for out-of-warranty transmissions are fairly steep. Based on what I’ve heard, you could be looking at $25-30K to replace a shelled transmission. Not a small number. I can definitely understand why the premium starts to fall.
As one final check on this pro-ProDrive conclusion, I like to filter down by auction type. Retirement auctions tend to bring higher premiums. Consignment sales tend to be lower and represent the market value floor. The unexpected challenge I discovered was that few S670 3-speed combines hit the retirement market. Conversely, we haven’t seen a lot of ProDrives selling at consignment sales. I’m still working on determining why this happens.
I showed these numbers to Dustin the other day over a beer, and it pretty well confirmed what I think he needed to hear. When I left the shop, he was on his tablet browsing combines at Tractor Zoom, and I’m sure he’ll find a nice ProDrive S670 at a retirement sale somewhere.

A modified version of this article originally appeared on the Iron Comps blog a few weeks ago.

Big Blue: The Ford 9600

Ford 9600
Big power from small cubes! This beautiful Ford 9600 sells on August 24, 2020. Click the photo to learn more about this one-owner gem!

The 9600 is probably my favorite Ford tractor of all time. There’s something about these things that just looks right. A 9600 open station with a narrow front on a set of 20.8 Firestone Deep Treads, the white fenders with the lights in ’em, and a ROPS bar? That just screams muscle tractor to me.

The 9600 was the top dog in Ford’s lineup in 1975. It made just over 135 PTO horse from a turbocharged 401, which was one of the smallest motors of the era (I think the only one to make similar horsepower with a smaller motor was Massey Ferguson). This particular tractor also features Dual-Power, Ford’s version of a torque amplifier, which effectively allowed the operator to split the dual-range 4-speed into a 16-speed transmission. This one works, too!

The 9600 had a reputation for being a really torque-y tractor with lots of low-end grunt. It’s also known to be pretty fuel-efficient, too. I know a guy from Missouri who still farms with one today; even though he’s turned it up a little, he swears it only burns about 6.5 gallons/hour!

This particular 9600 is in BEAUTIFUL shape! It’s a one-owner tractor with good rubber all the way around, straight tin, and it’s absurdly clean both inside and out! Here’s the best part, though…it’s only got 3033 hours on it! It’s barely broken in! It lives in Minnesota until next week when our friends at Zielsdorf Auction & Real Estate send it home with a new owner!

If you want to see some video of a nicely-restored Ford 9600, our friends at Successful Farming interviewed a farmer in Grinnell, IA not too long ago for their Ageless Iron segment. Watch it here!

Useless Trivia:

How do you tell the difference between an 8000-series and a 9000-series Ford without looking under the hood? Look at the grill. On the 8000-series tractors, the rectangles are vertical. On the 9000-series, they’re horizontal!

Movin’ Mountains: The Steiger Tiger III ST450

Steiger Tiger III ST450
Big jobs require big muscle. Fortunately, this big Steiger Tiger III ST450 has plenty of it! If you need a monster Steiger for your operation, click here for the details on this one!

In the late 70s, Steiger built some pretty unbelievable machines. This Tiger III was one of them.

Steiger built the Tiger III ST450 from 1977-1982, but actually encompassed two different models. They built the first 173 tractors with a Cummins KTA-1150 rated at 470 horse (this tractor is number 158). For the 1980 model year, they changed motors on the ST450 to a 450-horse Cat 3408. The Cummins-powered version remained at 470 horse and was rebadged as the ST470. At the end of the day, I suspect it was a sales move, but it’s historically notable.

Any way you slice it, they’re big honkin’ tractors and they’re probably perfect for nearly any big job you would want to undertake. Want to move a mountain? Hook it to one of these. Need to flatten a dozen cars in about five minutes? The ST450 can do it (especially this one – dual 30.5s all the way around).

This particular ST450 probably never crushed cars or moved mountains, but it did do something very important. It laid miles and miles of drainage tile across thousands of acres of wet fields, and helped many farmers become a lot more productive. It’ll sell with a ZOR double-link tile plow that’s set up for 6″ tile, and there are several other boots available at this auction (I think 8- and 10-inch?).

I’ve heard rumors that Steiger built tractors specifically for tiling in the late 70s; and honestly I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that this was one of them. This tractor is definitely built for it; it sells with 4900 pounds of extra weight on the nose, as well as dual 30.5×32 Firestone Forestry Specials all the way around. It’s got to tip the scales at close to 60,000 pounds as-is!

The last time we saw a Tiger III like this one sell at an auction, it went for just under $44K, but it didn’t have a tile plow setup with it, and the tires weren’t quite as new. This one should bring a fair bit more. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t come close to $50K by the time the hammer drops. The market for tractors like this is fairly small, but the right buyer will love it!

If you need more Steiger-y goodness in your life, check out this video that our friends at BigTractorPower did featuring some classic pistachio-green Steigers. There’s a sweet ST470 running an air seeder in it!

If you’re looking for Steigers on auction, check here.

The Greatest Farm Show You’ve Never Heard Of: Blackmore Corner

john deere tractors
Two beautiful two-cylinder Deeres gracing the front lawn of the Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show!

Nothing to see from an auction perspective. Not this time.

This post is all about a road trip to the best heritage farm show you’ve never heard of. It’s a little off the beaten path just south of Ellston, IA, and it’s awesome!

Now in its 10th year, the Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show is the brainchild of the Dolecheck family. It started as a way to play with old iron that they (and their neighbors) had used over the years. Since then, it’s grown quite a bit, with a lot of iron being trailered in from the surrounding area! The day before the show, they host a 70-80 mile tractor ride and a big cookout, too, so it’s a full weekend!

The afternoon that I was there, they were threshing wheat with an old belt-driven thresher (running off of an old F-20, no less). In another area, there were six or eight plows hard at work turning the dirt! The plan was to pick corn the following day using a variety of pickers and some old combines, but intermittent rain hampered their plans.

The Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show ended the Saturday night festivities with an old-style tractor pull. Lots of kiddos sitting on hay bales, lawn chairs in the bed of old Chevys, that sort of thing. I love pulls like that!

The Dolechecks don’t do a lot of marketing for this show, but they do have a Facebook page with more information and some cool drone footage from years past! I would expect that this show grows quite a bit over the next few years, so if you’re able to come out, I’m sure they’d love to have you!

Here’s what I saw while I was there.

American flag waving near farm equipment at sunset
The American flag over amber waves of grain…
John Deere 830 Diesel
This 830 is weighted up to do some work. Don’t let that paint job fool you!
Two John Deere Tractors
There’s the 830 Diesel again, this time with its stablemate, a 730 Diesel. Both beautifully restored.
John Deere 720 Diesel
Here’s a better shot of the 730 Diesel.
A line of John Deere tractors
From left to right: 4255 hot farm pulling tractor, 7520, a 4620 (I think?), and a pair of 4320s. There’s an 1155 Massey that photobombed the picture, too.
Minneapolis Moline tractors
It wasn’t just red and green. Here’s a pair of all-original Minneapolis Moline G1000s (one is a Wheatland, the other is a row crop).
Ford 5000
That sunbrella on this Ford 5000 came in awfully handy. It was sunny and HOT!
Farmall 1206 at sunset
Iowa’s sunset game is STRONG. The Farmall 1206 is the icing on the cake!
Trio of Farmalls
A trio of Farmalls.
farmall tractors lined up in a row
All lined up in a row! Ronnie Shields has a terrific Farmall collection and he had most of it on display!
Farmall M with a hay rake.
Farmall M on a hay rake. Case threshing machine in the background.
blackmore corner tractor pulling track
Hay bales, a few coolers, Old Glory waving in the breeze, tractors, and a pulling track. No better recipe for a terrific Saturday night!
5 Millionth IH 1066 (replica)
A good lookin’ 5 Millionth clone!
1066 narrow front
This 1066 Narrow Front is still fully operational as a farm tractor. In fact, it’s been known to hook to the pulling sled while still wearing a corn picker!
John Deere 4440 pulling tractor
Another one from the Dolecheck stables, this 4440 has the narrow front from a 4040, and is also fully operational. It’ll also hook to the sled while wearing a picker!

Later in the evening, the plow demonstrations gave way to a tractor pull, and these next photos are from that portion of the day. Although some are still working tractors, those with roll cages definitely aren’t!

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Timing. Is. Everything. I do love taking photos at sunset.

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So there you have it, the gallery from the Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show 2020!

If you’re looking for a classic of your own, you should browse tractors coming up at an auction near you! There’s lots of good stuff trading hands these days!

The Corner-Carving Deere

John Deere 4455 Copy
This beautiful John Deere 4455 MFWD only has 2743 original hours on it, and it sells on July 13, 2020. Click the photo to see the listing and lots more photos of this beauty!

It’s getting hard to find a low-houred John Deere 4455 like this one these days; every now and then, however, one sneaks out of the barn and heads to auction. Like this one! This beautiful tractor only has 2743 original hours on it, and it sells at an auction hosted by Wears Auctioneering in Iowa City, IA. Sells with duals, full rack of front weights, new interior, and sales and service records.

The 4455 MFWD was a hot seller, because among other improvements, this tractor could turn sharper than the competition. Deere built a push-button system for the 50-series called Caster Action that tightened the turning radius. However, on the 55-series, it engaged automatically. By tilting the kingpin on the front axle a few degrees, the front wheels could lean over while turning; therefore tightening your turning radius. In fact, the stat nerds at Deere figured that if you dragged a 6-row 30″ cultivator through a square 100-acre field, you’d turn around 139 times! With Caster Action, the John Deere 4455 could cut about 18 feet off of each loop! When you do the math, that saves about a half mile per field! It doesn’t sound like much, but if you did the math all the way through the year, it’d add up to some decent fuel savings!

(That said…many owners turned their 4455s up a little, so the fuel savings went straight out the stack. Still, it was nice idea, right?)

This particular tractor is a 3-owner with 2743 hours (verified – service records and sale history comes with the tractor). The tractor has never left the state of Iowa all of its life, and each owner has maintained it very well. A Deere technician replaced the dash at 2727.9 hours in 2014; he engraved the original hours on the underside of the new dash to document the change. Since then, the owner has only it used a few hours per year mowing set-aside land. The new meter currently reads 14.9 hours.

Bidding on this one is pretty hot right now; I’ll be surprised if this tractor doesn’t hit close to $50K when the bidding is finished!

Final hammer price: $54,150.