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!)

Farmall Land: Where tractors, history, and passion collide.

Cutting to the chase…

First, let’s cut to the chase before we get into some of the stories. As of the time I publish this post, you’ll have about 10 days to get to Avoca to see Farmall Land. After 5PM on Sunday, September 27, Jerry & Joyce Mez are retiring, off to travel the world and spoil their grandkids! Subsequently, our friends at Girard Auctions will be sending everything off to new owners. Everything will be sold through a series of online auctions (the land and the buildings too) beginning later this fall. You’ll be able to find all of the details for the tractors and equipment on Tractor Zoom, so keep an eye on the site!

Farmall Land USA
Is this Heaven? Nope…it’s Farmall Land.

Now…on to the stories.

In the event you’re a red fan, the long lines of flourescent lights probably give it away. Today, we’re celebrating one of the coolest collections of interesting red iron on the planet. Welcome to Farmall Land USA. 

If you’ve ever wondered what true passion looks like, Farmall Land USA is where you’ll find the answer. From the moment you walk in the doors and sign the 3-ring binder guest book on the table, you’ll not only see the passion – you’ll feel it. Over the past 50 or so years, Jerry & Joyce Mez have built an utterly amazing collection of the red machinery that built this country. They genuinely appreciate the opportunity to show it to anybody who walks through their doors, too.

The Dealership Days

Jerry’s grown up around red tractors almost all of his life. The Mez family moved to Avoca, IA from Falls City, NE and Max (Jerry’s father) opened Avoca Implement in 1943 when Jerry was just a toddler. The dealership was quite successful, and eventually expanded to locations in Greenfield, IA and (for a short time) Atlantic, IA. Jerry & Joyce sold both dealerships to Titan Machinery in 2008. The museum has been their full-time focus since then.

“Since I was 3 years old, everything I have is attributable to farm equipment,” Jerry said in a 2010 INTERVIEW.

 

Jerry began collecting red tractors in the mid-70s when he got out of the Army. The first one in the collection? One of the first tractors his Dad ever sold, a Farmall F-20. It was all downhill from there! Jerry & Joyce have close to 220 tractors in the collection now (nearly all of them pre-merger tractors), give or take a few. You’ll usually find about 150 on display at any given time.

Favorite Tractors

The Farmall 1206

So what’s his favorite? A Farmall 1206 narrow-front that his father sold new out of the Avoca dealership to a local farmer in 1966. Jerry bought it back from the original owner in 1988. When I last talked with Jerry in late June, this 1206 was one of the few that he was planning on keeping after retiring from the museum.

Jerry’s favorite 1206. Photo provided courtesy of Octane Press – authors of the Red Tractors series of books. Click the photo to learn more about the series!
The ih 4300

In addition to his 1206, another favorite that Jerry really enjoys showing off is a 1962 IH 4300 – one of the rarest production tractors IH ever built! IH didn’t build many to start with (I think the number was in the low-mid 40s; they were essentially built-to-order by Hough). Many were used pretty hard by construction companies, and Jerry believes there are only about six of them known to still exist. Weighing in at 30,000 pounds and sporting an 817-cube turbocharged inline six mated to an Allison automatic transmission, this one is definitely a crowd favorite. He looked for it for about 15 years, too, and the restoration process was extensive (it was a basketcase when he got it). All in all, it took two full nights to clean it up enough to see what they were working with for the restoration!

IH 4300
Here’s the 4300 after Jerry’s restoration – and one of my favorite details on it.
Picture courtesy of Girard Auctions. Click this photo to see more photos and information about how they’ll be handling Jerry’s auctions beginning later this fall!
IMG 3176
Here’s the punch line on the other fender. Kids, always eat your Wheaties, so you can grow from Cub Cadet-sized to big powerful yellow tractor-sized!

Worldwide Destination

The museum typically sees well over 5000 visitors per year, and Jerry figures that he’s had conversations with guests from every continent and every state in the union as well! One of the last times I visited, I actually had an international (no pun intended) encounter while drooling over a wide-fendered Wheatland 1256! I met a man who was here in the states from Australia. He really wasn’t involved with agriculture in his day job back home, but he’d heard about Farmall Land and wanted to stop. “Stuff like this, and the people who run this museum is what makes America so great!” he said. Indeed it does, my friend.

farmall land usa
A pair of 68-series Binders. Note the M&W twin turbo kit on the 1568. Those kits alone can fetch $5K+ if they’re in good shape!

The farm and garden tractors themselves are one thing, but that’s not all that makes up this amazing exhibit. Additionally, the memorabilia and examples of other products that International Harvester (fridges, freezers, etc.) built is mind-blowing! Altogether, I’m sure there are well over a thousand die-cast toys ranging from 1/64th up to 1/8th scale, plus a load of nice pedal tractors too! Basically, according to Jerry, “If it’s red, we’ve probably got it.”

So, like I’d mentioned earlier…if you want to see this collection in all of its glory, you need to make some plans within the next week or so. After September 27, the doors will close permanently.

Additionally, here are some details if you decide to make the trip!

Address: 2101 N. Lavista Heights Rd., Avoca, IA 51521

(Basically, it’s at the intersection of I-80 and Iowa 59 off of exit 40; an hour or so west of Des Moines, or about 45 minutes east of Omaha.)

Phone: 712.307.6806

Web: http://www.farmall-land-usa.com/

Hours: Closed on Monday, Tuesday – Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday 12PM-5PM.

Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for 13-18, $3 for 5-12, and free under 5!

COVID-19 rules do apply as well, folks, so out of respect for Jerry & Joyce’s wishes you’ll want to have a mask with you, and wear it while in the museum.

All in all, there’s no community of people nicer than tractor people, and honestly, folks like Jerry & Joyce Mez and their small staff are the reason why. They absolutely love what they do, and love to share their passion for tractors with anybody who stops in to say hello. They’ve given very selflessly to the industry, farmers, and tractor collectors. In fact, I think I’m going to sneak away on Saturday the 26th and stop in one more time to say thank you. I hope I’ll see you there, too.

The Gallery!

Finally, here’s a gallery of photos from several of my visits, as well as a few shots from Girard Auctions! At the end of the day, though, neither my photos nor anybody else’s do Farmall Land proper justice. You really need to take it in for yourself.

Again, special thanks to my friend Lee Klancher and the team over at Octane Press for lending me the photo of that Jerry’s beautiful 1206. Lee wrote a great piece about one of his visits to Farmall Land. He’s got lots of photos that I didn’t get during my visits, too! Read that here.

Also, many thanks to my friend Ken Girard at Girard Auctions for lending me a few photos of tractors that I didn’t get in my visits! Click here to learn more about how Ken is planning to run the Farmall Land USA auctions!

Lastly, if you’re looking for red iron of your own…you should be looking here!

 

 

 

The RAV4 of tractors: The White 4-150 Field Boss

White 4-150
This 4-150 Field Boss lives just northeast of Madison, WI for now, but goes home to a new owner tomorrow! Maybe that new owner should be you! Click the photo to see the description, more photos, and a link to get in on the bidding!

The story of how White Farm Equipment was born is a long one, and you’ll get bored hearing it. Suffice it to say that in 1969, WFE was born. At the time, they were still maintaining three different legacy brands underneath their umbrella – Oliver, Minneapolis-Moline, and Cockshutt. When 1974 rolled around, though, they decided to phase them out and start fresh with White.

WFE knew that it needed to make a big splash on the market in order to establish itself quickly. They saw a hole in the market for sort of an in-between tractor. Something that was a step up from a row-crop but not something real big like a Steiger. What they really wanted to do was create the “crossover” of tractors. One that could do it all…like a Field Boss. ?

In a nutshell, WFE wanted to build a tractor that checked off all of these boxes.

  • 4WD traction
  • Row-crop versatility
  • Utility-model stability
  • Articulated maneuverability
  • Reasonable power

If you think about it, that’s pretty much the same thing that Toyota did when they built the RAV4 in 1995 (sans the hinge in the middle).

Overall, they did a good job of executing on it, too. The White 4-150 Field Boss ticked off nearly every one of those boxes above. Very sleek, stylish and quiet, it sat lower to the ground than its 4WD competitors, turned sharper, and didn’t lose traction either! Occasionally, you’ll hear farmers complain that these are lightweight tractors that aren’t up to the job. No…that’s not true. The 4-150 wasn’t a deep tillage tractor. It was built as a beefed-up rowcrop tractor that would handle a little bit of everything. And at the end of the day, it did the job just fine! Can the 4-180 handle more? Yep, you bet. White built it that way…on purpose!

Frankly, this particular tractor has aged better than most early Field Bosses. The body panels are nice and straight, there’s very little rust on the cab, and the best part? 3300 original hours! And, assuming it hasn’t been beaten like a red-headed stepchild, the 3208 Cat should have some life left in it. It needs new rubber (or will soon), and the seat is torn up a bit, too. But, other than those items, this is a pretty solid example of the Field Boss! It sells on Thursday, September 10 at an auction up near Madison, WI!

Now, that said, these motors are a little finicky. They don’t all run like the Lustik family’s Silver Bullet alky superstock pulling tractor. They don’t like to be lugged down real low, nor do they like real high RPMs for extended periods of time. Some of ’em tend to use quite a bit of oil, too, so make sure you’ve got plenty of that around. They DO sound pretty darn good with straight pipes, though. There’s a really good video from a knowledgeable Oliver guy on YouTube out there from a few years ago where he takes his for a drive (after he’d just bought it). Watch it here.

Here’s a little bit of the advertising that WFE put out when they released the 4-150. Interesting stuff!

White 4 150 Brochure
WFE was selling pretty hard against the high-horsepower row-crop competitors here. They took a swipe at a couple of the more popular 4WD options, too.
Field Boss 4-150 Brochure 2
Power with a purpose. Good slogan. (Still not sure about using the word ‘efficiently’ in the same context as a 3208 Cat, though…)
White 4 150 Brochure 4
I thought the tagline at the bottom was pretty interesting.

White 4 150 Brochure.3 Copy

The Oliver 2150: Charles City’s Whispering Giant

This big hoss of an Oliver lives in mid-Michigan for now. Maybe it needs to come live with you! Click here for the auction details and 10 more photos!

America’s farming landscape exploded in the late ’60s, and drove the demand for more capable equipment. Every tractor manufacturer in the country was scrambling to build bigger, heavier-duty machines. Farmers needed tractors that could efficiently hustle through heavy tillage with a 7 or 8-bottom plow…and they didn’t want to have their eardrums blown out in the process. In short, they needed innovation in machinery to support the continuing innovation of modern farming practices.

The customer had spoken, and the folks in Charles City listened.

The result was the Oliver 2150, released in 1968. It was the big horse in the 50-series lineup, and it had all the right stuff, too. Big power and torque from a turbocharged Hercules 478, an 18-speed Hydraul-Shift transmission, and a beefy, overbuilt chassis so operators didn’t lose traction in the field! The icing on the cake? According to Oliver, these new tractors were “whisper quiet”! (Whether they were or not is up for debate; I mean, after testing a 1950 with a 2-stroke Detroit, I’m pretty sure everybody who worked for Oliver was in the process of going deaf by then, right?) ?

The Oliver 2150 was only in production for parts of two years (14 months if we’re being picky), but it led the horsepower race for both of ’em! They didn’t make a ton of these tractors, either; finding one is fairly rare.

Here’s how the numbers break out for the 2150’s total production (Oliver models and Cockshutt).

Total built: 1018 (373 FWA)

    • 887 Oliver
    • 19 Oliver/White 4-144 (and 4-144 Extra Heavy Duty variants)
    • 112 Cockshutt

This is definitely one of the rarer Olivers out there, but for quite a while the 2150 has flown under the collector crowd’s radar. It’s picked up a little over the past few years, but I think this one could still be purchased fairly reasonably (as you’ll see when you look at the listing, it’ll need some TLC). Underneath the surface rust and broken glass, though, there’s lots of potential! I’ll be excited to see what happens with this tractor!

The auction doesn’t happen until September 12, but the online bidding is live right now. Thus far the bidding sits at a whopping $55. I doubt it’ll stay that way for long, though.

If you’re bidding on it, good luck! If you end up buying it, drop me a line!

Looking for Olivers? Start here!

 

There have been a couple of fairly notable Oliver 2150 tractors that have been featured on Tractor Zoom over the past year or two. Here are a few photos.

Oliver 2150 FWA
Definitely the rarest of the 2150s we’ve seen on Tractor Zoom, this one sold for $13,000 on 6/1/19 at a Chuck Sutton auction in South Dakota.
Oliver 2150 FWA 2
Here’s another shot. Although we think the term ‘barn find’ is a little overdone, this tractor definitely fit the definition!
05142019Nixon2150 Copy
This baby was gorgeous! Our friends at Nixon Auctioneers sold her for $14,500 on 5/14/19. Nice tractor, and a pretty solid price too!
05142019Nixon2150.3 Copy
This isn’t just any old 2150, either. It’s one of 14 Wheatlands with a planetary rear axle, factory cab, and AC!
05142019Nixon2150.2 Copy
When Bill Luecke purchased it in 2012, it was reasonably sound from a mechanical perspective, but it needed a lot of cosmetic work. Eventually, a full cosmetic restoration was completed in 2014. Nice work, sir!

Finally, here are a couple of Oliver 2150 ads that I’ve found here and there. Evidently, Oliver definitely wasn’t shy about what their horse was capable of!

2050 2150 Big Power Big Implements

1968 2150 Better Farming Copy

2050 2150 Whisper Quiet Diesel

2150 Lead The Giants Copy

*Shoutout to my good friends Sherry Schaefer and the team over at Oliver Heritage magazine for a little help on the production numbers breakdown. If you’re a fan of Tractor Zoom’s Interesting Iron, you’ll love Oliver Heritage! Give ’em a shout!

Rockin’ The Suburbs: The John Deere Patio Series tractors

 

Patio Series Tractor
Whether you’re rockin’ the suburbs or keeping the farmstead’s lawn looking good…you’ll look 10X more stylish riding this one! Click the photo to see the rest of the photos and the auction details!

A Deere painted blue? For real?

Yep. When Mother Deere set her sights on the ‘burbs in the late 60s with their line of garden tractors, you could buy a 110, 112, 120, or 140 in the traditional green and yellow, or in any of 4 different special colors. It was a marketing ploy that only lasted for a couple of years because they didn’t sell very well. To collectors right now, they’re pretty hot!

They were actually called the Custom Color series, but these days everybody just calls them The Patio Series tractors. They were mechanically identical to their green counterparts, but they were painted Dogwood White from the factory (sans hood), and the customer was given the choice of matching hood and seat. Available colors were Patio Red, Sunset Orange, Spruce Blue, and April Yellow.

Patio Series Tractor ad
Here’s a magazine ad with the 4 colors shown together. Also note the marketing play to keep the wife happy…

The advertising for the Patio Series was interesting. Deere played with different concepts appealing to upper middle class life like letting your wife pick out her favorite color (I’m not touching that with a ten foot pole…) or matching the color of your mower to the color of your boat/car/lawn furniture. Obviously, it didn’t work because they didn’t sell a ton of them, but I will say that the Spruce Blue bears a reasonably close resemblance to Mulsanne Blue (one of the more popular colors for the Camaro).

Patio Series Tractor ad 2
Who rattle cans a lawn mower and makes it look that shiny? I mean seriously?

This Spruce Blue 112 lives in Reedsburg, WI for now, but I’m pretty sure that there’ll be a lot of action on the bidding before it’s all said and done. A buddy of mine who’s knowledgeable on these tractors is pretty sure it’s all-original, and the Spruce Blue is one of the rarer of the colors (the rarest is April Yellow). It’ll be fun to see where the bidding ends up on this one! While it’s by no means “comprehensive” in Patio Series tractor auction results, our Iron Comps Insights data suggests that it’ll sell for somewhere in the $1000-1200 neighborhood.

By the way, the folks at Green Magazine published a great article about the history of the Patio Series tractors. Read it here!

Patio Series Tractors
An original seat like this one has is worth a fortune!

Pro Tip:

If you’re shopping for a Patio Series tractor, try to find one with an original seat in decent shape. Unfortunately, there aren’t many NOS seats available these days, and as far as I know, nobody makes a reproduction. Consequently, when NOS originals show up on eBay, the bidding quickly goes bonkers!

Looking for lawn & garden or turf equipment to keep your acreage looking good? Start the search here.