A Gold Demo, a hay maker, and two ACs walk into a bar…

Interesting Iron 0610
A demonstrator, a haymaker, and two ACs walk into a bar…(stop me if you’ve heard this one) – Click the photo to check out this week’s Interesting Iron!

Check out this week’s Interesting Iron!

Back when I started this blog a year or two ago, I used to pick three (or more) interesting tractors to write about. Over time, I moved to a one-tractor column. However, if the past few weeks are any indication, I might end up going back to that 3-piece format! Our TZ auctioneers are listing all sorts of neat stuff these days! It’s tough to choose a single tractor lately!

So this week, it’s three (or four, or nine, depending on how you look at it) neat tractors. A Gold Demo 826 from Michigan, a hay maker from Minnesota, and seven weird-lookin’ orange ones from New York and Kentucky! Let’s get to it!

The Michigan Demonstrator: 1970 Farmall 826

Sykora 826 Demo
Back in 1970, when a farmer bought a Farmall Gold Demo, the dealership repainted it before delivery (which is what IH wanted). Such was the case with this little 826! Click the link to see the auction details on this one!

In 1970, Harvester’s marketing department rolled out the Gold Demonstrator promo to help push sales of the 544, 656, 826, 1026, and 1456. A handful of each model were painted with gold paint (IH Truck Gold Metallic 4357, if you’re playing along at home) and shipped to dealers nationwide. During the promo, those tractors worked in fields all across the country, convincing farmers to upgrade machines.

After the promo, dealerships sold the tractors as demo units. The lion’s share of them were repainted after being sold (as was the case with this one). However, if the buyer liked the gold paint, some dealerships would forego the paint job. The folks in Melrose Park frowned on it, but it did happen from time to time.

Sykora 826 Demo Hood
One of the telltale signs that a tractor is a Gold Demo is original IH Truck Gold Metallic 4357 paint on the underside of the hood. When dealerships repainted these tractors, the underside usually didn’t get re-sprayed.

This one lives up near Alpena, MI pretty close to Lake Huron. Our friends at Sykora Auction Services are handling this Saturday’s sale. It’s part of a pretty good-sized red collection!

Original Gold Demos are rare finds these days; they don’t show up very often. If you’re looking at one, make sure it’s the real deal! Look for IH 4357 gold paint on the underside of the hood and a black operator’s console. If you find those, check the serial number and make sure it’s a ’70. If you can check off those boxes, there’s a pretty good chance it’s a Gold Demo. I’ve looked this one over pretty carefully, and based on the photos, I think it’s legit.

Weird-lookin’ ACs in New York & Kentucky

Goodrich Allis G
This parade-ready AC Model G sells at a Goodrich consignment sale this Saturday! Click the photo to see the listing!

The Allis Chalmers G is a neat little tractor in my book. They’re not super-rare, as AC churned out about 30,000 of them between 1948-1955, but they’re quite unique. The G is light (1300 pounds, give or take), so most of the weight was hung over the rear wheels so it wouldn’t lose traction.

Allis sold the G as sort of an all in one system, and offered a whole slew of row crop implements for them – everything from tillage to planters! They were held in place by a couple of wedge pins, so implements could be changed in about five minutes. Handy for small operations!

Gilliam Allis G
This little guy, along with his five brothers and sisters, sell at a Kentucky farm equipment auction on Saturday! They’re still in their working clothes, too! Click the photo to see the sale bill!

These little guys turned out to be REALLY popular on veggie farms back in the day, and you’ll still find farmers using them today! One of the ones on Wally Gilliam’s sale even has a 16′ boom sprayer mounted on the back!

Overall, these are still useful tractors that are easy to work on. Parts are still available for the 10-horse Continental L-head engine, as well as the gearbox (from a Model B). They’re usually fairly cheap to buy, too; I’d be shocked if these sold for more than a couple thousand bucks apiece.

I’ve got a buddy in Louisville who makes the greatest pickles on the planet, and one of these tractors would be PERFECT for his operation! Oddly enough, the auction is being held this Saturday in Louisville…

Jeremy, if you’re reading this…click here and BUY ONE!

The Minnesota Hay Maker: IH 986

Maring 986
This super-clean 986 sells at a Matt Maring auction next Saturday, June 18! Click the photo to take a look at the auction details and see a lot more photos!

The 986 was a bread and butter tractor for IH in the late 70s. They turned out over 20,000 of these workhorses between 1976-1981. It was the biggest of the naturally-aspirated models, squeezing 117 horse out of the 436 inch inline six. They were quite popular in the midwest as do-it-all tractors – especially with hay farmers.

Such is the case with this one. The owner was a die-hard red guy, and it was a big horse on his farm. He took very good care of it, too. I talked to one of Matt Maring’s guys about it yesterday, and while they couldn’t say that the 2458 hours were original, it’s a strong runner, and clean as a whistle inside and out!

I know most of these columns I write focus on rare tractors or oddballs, but that’s not the only criteria I use to find Interesting Iron. Interesting Iron also includes stuff like this 986…a clean farm tractor that’s been treated well. It won’t set any crazy auction price records, but it’ll bring good money when the hammer falls next weekend. There’ll ALWAYS be a strong market for tractors of any age when their owners take good care of them.

So, what’s the takeaway? Always take good care of your stuff. Maintain it properly. Treat it right, and it’ll treat you right when you trade it in or sell it!

The Massey-Harris Pacemaker with the cowbell…

Massey-Harris Pacemaker Vineyard
This Massey-Harris Pacemaker vineyard tractor is extraordinarily rare…but what’s up with the cowbell on the front?

See the auction details on this Oregon Massey-Harris Pacemaker.

The Massey-Harris Pacemaker isn’t super-rare. They’re not super-common, either. There were about 3,000 built over two(ish) years. They were a great little Depression-era farm tractor.

They’ve got an interesting history, though. The Pacemaker was a direct descendent of a pretty ground breaking tractor with ties to the Case family.

Sort of…

Wallis Tractor Co.

The Pacemaker’s bloodline began with a company called Wallis Tractor Co. Henry Wallis was Jerome Increase Case’s son-in-law, and he started the company in 1912. Wallis Tractor Company pioneered the uniframe, a revolutionary concept in tractor-building.

See, before Wallis, companies built tractors like old steam engines. They bolted channel iron together to build a frame, and bolted the motor to that. It worked, but it it wasn’t great. Because the frames were bolted together, they flexed a lot, and that was really hard on driveline parts (which are NOT made to flex).

Wallis made a solid U-shaped steel frame, and bolted all the components to it. It made the resulting tractor a lot stiffer, which was a lot easier on driveline parts!

Massey-Harris Pacemaker frame design
This diagram is a little bit blurry, but it’s a good example of how the unit frame was constructed and how the components bolted into it. It was a game-changing idea!

Massey-Harris was watching. At that point, they were just a harvesting equipment manufacturer; they didn’t really have a tractor line to sell. So, taking a page from Cyrus McCormick’s book, they bought Wallis so they’d have one. It proved to be a smart move, too.

The Pacemaker & Specialty Variants

The Pacemaker was actually an updated Wallis model. It was available as a as a standard, as well as two variants – an orchard and a vineyard model.

Specialty crop tractors like this usually feature similar characteristics. They sit lower than the standards, for one. Additionally, they usually feature swoopy rear fenders covering the wheel. The exhaust is also routed off to the side, or under the tractor. Everything is designed to protect the trees or the vines. The orchard models measured 48″ wide, and the vineyards were 40″ wide. These are definitely small, skinny tractors.

I knew that the variants were far less common, but I could never really find any documented production numbers. So, I made a phone call to my friend Tom up in Fargo. Tom and his granddad have one of the world’s largest Wallis & Massey-Harris collections (over 120 tractors), and I figured he’d know.

Seaberg Collection 2
Part of Tom’s collection. That’s a Wallis orchard model on the far left, and you can see how low it sits!

Oddly enough…he did. He knew quite a bit about these tractors, and he was more than willing to share.

Seaborg Collection
A few more of Tom’s collection…

Apparently they made somewhere in the neighborhood of 170-180 orchard models (mainly gas-powered, but a few kerosene/distillate models too), but only 42 of the vineyard tractors. 42! Tom also told me that as of now, only 7 of the vineyard model are known to have survived!

So, adding the one in the picture at the top to the mix, that makes 8 left out there. Some have been restored, but others are still in use on farms across the planet.

Massey Pacemaker Vineyard
This Pacemaker Vineyard is one of only 8 known to exist! Click the photo to see the auction listing!

The Oregon Pacemaker

I called JB Dimick at J&C Auctions the other day to get the story on this rare tractor. JB told me that this is the second time he’s sold this tractor. One of his regulars, an antique tractor collector, bought it many years ago with the intentions of restoring it to its former glory. Sadly, that collector passed away before he had the opportunity to restore it. He did get it running at some point, but never made progress beyond that.

JB didn’t know the entire history of the tractor, but he’s fairly sure that it was originally sold at a local dealership, so it’s been in Southwest Oregon/Northern California all its life. It’s missing the side panels, swoopy fenders, and the cowling over the steering wheel. It’s not currently running, and the team at J&C hasn’t tried to turn the motor over as far as I’m aware.

There are a number of antique tractors on this auction, and they all belonged to that regular customer. When they came in, JB noticed that this one had a small cowbell attached to the front, and he asked about it. Denise, the wife of that deceased customer, said that the cowbell was what her husband always did when he got one running. I thought that was kind of a neat signature, and I really hope that it goes with the tractor when it sells. A lot of the collectors and restorers that I know appreciate those little connections to the prior owners. Maybe I’m overly sentimental, but I know that if I restored it, that cowbell would stay with the tractor forever.

What’s the tractor worth?

Honestly, I have no idea. Our Iron Comps database has hundreds of thousands of auction values, but no Pacemaker vineyard tractors. Bidding just opened last night, and it’s currently sitting at $3400.

Based on my conversation with Tom, my guess is that the only folks who will be bidding are dedicated Massey-Harris collectors – likely a fairly small group (and they probably all know each other, too). Whomever takes it home will definitely have a rare tractor, but to restore it properly, it’ll cost $10K or more.

Would they be able to turn a profit after restoration? Based on where the bidding sits right now, I’d imagine the answer is no. There’s only been one restored Pacemaker vineyard model that’s crossed the auction block recently (serial number 201031). It sold at a Mecum Gone Farmin’ auction in 2016 for  $10K. Two years later, it sold again at another Mecum sale for just over $13K. The tractor on next week’s auction does have an earlier serial number, though, which could push the value a little. This tractor’s serial number is 201008, so it could easily be one of the first Pacemaker vineyards built!

Massey-Harris Pacemaker Vineyard Serial
Nobody’s unearthed a list of vineyard serial numbers, but we know that this one is pretty early!

My guess, though, is that whomever wins this one won’t really care about resale. If they’ve gone far enough down the Massey-Harris rabbit hole to be looking for a Pacemaker vineyard, they’re completing a set or something. Once it’s been restored, it’ll stay in their collection for the foreseeable future.

See the auction details on this Oregon Massey-Harris Pacemaker.

This is definitely one of the rarest tractors we’ve seen on Tractor Zoom in a long time, and it’ll be fun to see where the bidding ends up. If you win the bid, reach out to me! I’d love to follow the progress of the tractor’s restoration!

One more thing…

While I was on the phone with Tom the other day, we got to talking about steam engines and really old gas engine tractors. He mentioned that he’d recently taken a spot on the organizer team for the Divide County Threshing Bee, a tractor show held in Crosby, ND (way up in the northwest corner of the state). The show focuses mainly on these big old steam engines and gas tractors, and if you’re out west, it sounds like a great time! This year’s date is July 16-18. I may try to get out there if I’m not booked for tractor pull that weekend!

Crosby Show 2019
Here’s an aerial view of the Threshing Bee in Crosby, ND. What a great lineup! Click this photo to visit the Threshing Bee’s website for details on the ’21 show!
Crosby Show 2014
A couple of the giants from a few years ago.

He was pretty excited that this year’s featured mark was Massey-Harris, so I’m sure he’ll drag a couple of semi loads of tractors up there for it!

 

A tractor called Tony!

Antonio Carraro 9400 TRH
This little Antonio Carraro must be one of the smallest modern articulating farm tractors on the planet! It sells at a Michigan retirement auction on March 23, 2021!

See the details on this tractor!

Well this is a little different, isn’t it? Normally I write about stuff built for row crop farms. But…once in a while, we see neat stuff built for specialty crops like orchards and vineyards. This Antonio Carraro 9400 TRH in the photo is a prime example!

Antonio Carraro…they make shoes, right???

If you ask ten random farmers in the States what Antonio Carraro makes, I’ll bet at least three of ’em look at their wife and answer, “Shoes?” Four of ’em will ask if it’s an Italian restaurant chain. Two will say they build sports cars. If you’re lucky, the last guy might know they make tractors! Without regard to that, though, Antonio Carraro has been building funny-looking little tractors for over 60 years!

To understand these tractors and why they look like they do, you need to know a little about Italy. Antonio Carraro is small company in the little town of Padova, a few miles west of Venice, in northeastern Italy. It’s a very fertile area, but it’s not easy to farm because it’s so hilly. You’ve got to be part mountain goat to farm it…or you need to have nimble, low-slung tractors that are stable on hillsides!

And that’s exactly what they make.

Perseverance pays off…

The company actually started in 1910 when Giovanni Carraro opened a blacksmith shop to make ag equipment for local farmers. The business barely had time to get on its feet before military service took him away for a while. It wasn’t until the early 1920s that he was able to return to his business.

The company really began to flourish in the early 30s when he developed a competitive planter that sold very well. By the late 30s, he employed a dozen people building equipment! During the 40s, though, war and scarcity of materials once again put the business on hold. However, after the war was over, the doors opened again and they picked up right where they left off! By the end of the decade, Carraro employed over 60 people!

In the late 50s, Carraro built its first tractor, the Scarabeo. It actually looked a lot like a very narrow version of an Allis Chalmers G. It wasn’t overly pretty, but it worked, and the company implemented the lessons learned in building it. That tractor actually still exists today, too! Here’s a video of it.

In the 60s, Giovanni Carraro began to turn the reins over to his kids…who promptly split the company in two. Antonio Carraro and his sister Bianca took the tractor side. Their goal was to build small, nimble tractors that could be used in hilly terrain. They found a niche with small farmers in northern Italy as well as the vineyards further south.

This is the kind of environment that Antonio Carraro tractors are built for. (Pretty impressive, huh?)

Continuous improvement leads to success…

1964 Antonio Carraro Tigre
This is the first Antonio Carraro articulating tractor, the Tigre. It was launched in 1964. (I think that’s a really good-looking little tractor, and if I ever have the opportunity, I’ll absolutely pick one up!)

Starting with the Tigre in 1964, Carraro has focused on continual improvements and technology upgrades, and they’ve done very well! Right now, they’ve got 17 models in their lineup – all of them are the same low-slung narrow size format, too. In the past, they’ve used multiple companies for their powertrains. Recently, though, they’ve announced a partnership with Yanmar on a going-forward basis.

antonio carraro Mach 4R
This is what happens when you dry a Quad Trac on high heat. If you own an apple orchard on a hillside, that’s a good thing! (This is one of Carraro’s most recent models – the Mach 4R!)

From what I gather, Antonio Carraro himself is still involved in day to day operations, and walks the factory floor pretty regularly. The company has flourished over the past few years, growing to over 450 employees. They’ve won some fairly prestigious design and technology awards in the past 10 years as well! They’re a smart company that’s passionate about building highly capable little tractors!

The Antonio Carraro that you can bid on…

TRH 9400 2
This is the first Antonio Carraro tractor we’ve ever seen on Tractor Zoom! Click the photo to see the details and lots more photos of this unique little tractor!

The tractor above is a 2010 Antonio Carraro model 9400 TRH. It’s a handy thing, too. It’s an 87-horse hydrostatic bi-directional tractor (the operator’s platform swings 180º) with only 1471 hours on it. It hasn’t seen a ton of use over the years. The engine is pre-DEF, too, which is nice! It’s got 2 remotes on the back, one in the front, 540/1000 PTO, air ride…pretty much all the stuff you’d find on a big tractor. This one just happens to be about 7′ tall!

This 9400 TRH is located at a vineyard in the greater Traverse City area of Michigan. The grower who owns the vineyard has decided to retire after farming ground on the eastern shores of the Grand Traverse Bay for 75 years! Our friends at Miedema Auctioneering are handling the sale, which wraps up next Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

Wrapping up…

Antonio Carraro tractors are pretty unique in North America. They’re useful in orchards and vineyards, but also excel anywhere where a farmer is in tight quarters. I know of a couple of chicken farmers down south who use them to feed their animals. I believe they’ve also been used in a few cattle operations here in the States as well.

Overall, they’ve got a lot going for them in their niche. The one challenge for these tractors (in the US, at any rate) is the dealer network. I went out to Carraro’s website and checked, and they’ve only got about 20 dealers nationwide. While that’s not a large network, one of those dealers is Papé Machinery – a large dealer in the Pacific NW with a ton of locations.

What’ll it sell for? I have absolutely no idea. I looked in our Iron Comps database and this will be the first Carraro that we track sales results for. My guess, is that it’ll go for less than $25-30K. Spendy for a small tractor? Maybe…but it DOES have a ton of capability that you’d have a hard time replicating in a larger tractor.

I’d imagine that at the end of the day, this tractor will stay local. I know that area of Michigan, and it’s a hot spot for vineyards. They’re buying land from retiring cherry growers in that area VERY quickly. As they keep expanding, they’ll need tractors like Tony! If this one leaves the county, I’d be surprised!

See the details on this tractor!

Fancy Fenders: The John Deere 60 Orchard

 

John Deere 60 Orchard
This streamlined beauty goes to a new owner on Saturday. Click the photo to see the details!

I’m a Michigan apple grower’s son, so orchard tractors will always have a special place in my heart. Rare(ish) ones like this 1956 John Deere 60 Orchard with the fancy fenders are cooler still!

Orchard tractors became a thing in the early part of the 20th century. The swoopy sheet metal fenders, however, didn’t come into their own until the mid-30s. Coincidentally, this is also about the time that we started to see it in high-end luxury cars like Delahaye. I’m sure that an engineer or a designer saw this and realized, “Hey, we can turn those rear fenders backwards and put ’em on tractor wheels and they’ll get under tree branches a lot better!”

The swoopy sheet metal over the wheels and fairing over the dash were the most obvious differences. They were only one part of it, though. Orchards have low-hanging branches in the rows. Consequently, growers couldn’t afford to use a traditional Farmall with a high seating position because they’d  sacrifice too much fruit! Hence, most orchard tractors had a lower, skinnier profile so they could navigate rows of trees or vines. Farmers wanted them as low and sleek as possible with nothing sticking up out of the hood. Manufacturers listened, and brought as much as they could under the windshield fairing, and made the controls accessible from lower-positioned seats. Hand clutches replaced foot clutches, exhausts re-routed out the back under the frame, and headlights were built in or made to retract. 

This particular John Deere is a gasser, built in 1956. The general consensus seems to be that Deere only built 297 John Deere 60 Orchard tractors. Is it the rarest Deere in the world? Nope…but I’ll bet you can’t find another one in South Dakota, though! It definitely presents pretty nicely! The only thing it’s missing are the mesh side panels over the motor!

If I ever start collecting tractors, I can tell you that orchard models are the ones I’ll be looking for. I doubt I’ll ever find the ones my family owned when they started growing apples in the 30s. I can dream, though, right?

The team over at Hagerty Insurance (a collector vehicle insurance company) wrote a terrific piece about the development of orchard tractors.

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The Mystery Moline: The G1000 Wheatland “Rice Special” FWA

Minneapolis Moline G1000 Wheatland "Rice Special" FWA
This Minneapolis Moline G1000 Wheatland “Rice Special” FWA sells on Saturday. One of two ever built! (Maybe?)

I’m just about positive that this is the single rarest tractor that an auctioneer has ever listed on Tractor Zoom. It’s one of two ever built…I think. For now, I’m still working on tracking that part down.

Background:

The Minneapolis Moline G1000 in and of itself isn’t the world’s most uncommon tractor (the factory churned out about 7400 of them), but there were a few of them that are super-rare. The G1000 Wheatland accounts for about 37% of the total production (just under 2900) according to some research done by the folks over at Michigan Moline.

The Rice Special:

The Minneapolis Moline G1000 Rice Special was a variant of the Wheatland, as best as I can tell, and I think most of them went down to TX near the Gulf Coast. Mechanically, they’re pretty much identical to the G1000 Wheatland. Same 504A-6 diesel motor, beefy frame, full crown fenders…the typical stuff. However, to be a Rice Special, it had to be ordered with rice tires (23.1-30s, I believe) and there may have been one or two other things. Regardless, they apparently have a special character or two somewhere on the serial tag (I don’t have a photo of the serial tag for this tractor, unfortunately.)

So here’s where the story gets interesting. There were only 89 4WD G1000 Wheatlands built, but I think there were only two  Rice Specials. I’ve done a fair amount of poking around and I only found record of one other one – it’s painted red and it’s got a cab on it.

The Mystery:

So, I’ll ask you…are these two tractors a pair separated at birth, or are they half-siblings? Was there another open-station G1000 Wheatland Rice Special with front wheel assist? Furthermore, if there was another, where is it now?

The world may never know. I’m trying to run down the gentleman in Texas who owns the other G1000 Rice Special. If the two of us get our heads together and figure this out, I’ll update this post!

In the meantime, go click the link and check out the details on this G1000! If you can help me solve the mystery, send me an email! (interestingiron@tractorzoom.com)

Until then, I’ll continue pacing the floor at night long trying to solve the mystery…

Looking for some Prairie Gold of your own? You should start here.