Why I’ll never look at a John Deere 4640 the same again…

john deere 4640 tractor

See the Interesting Iron auction listings on TZ!

This week’s Interesting Iron will be a little different than the normal stuff you see from me. Yes, there’s a really nice John Deere 4640 coming up on an auction near Corydon, IA, but for this post, it’s sort of a supporting character. It’s a long-winded post, but I do hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it all the way through.

john deere 4640 tractor at auction
This John Deere 4640 was Dennis Allen’s pride and joy. Click the link below to see the auction listing with lots more photos.

Dennis Allen’s 4640

Let’s talk about the tractor itself first, because this one that Jared Chambers is selling is an awfully nice one. It’s a 1980 model according to the serial number, and boy oh boy, is it ever clean! I’m sure there are probably cleaner examples of the John Deere 4640 out there, but I doubt they’re selling any time soon!

John Deere 4640 tractor cab
To me, the wear on the brake pedals sure doesn’t look like a 12,000-hour tractor! Dennis took really good care of this one!

Dennis Allen was the farmer who owned it. He was a well-known and hard-working farmer who loved his life on the farm that he and his wife Marcia established. They built a life there, and raised a family. Sadly, Dennis passed away on February 1, 2018 due to complications of sepsis. Most all of the machinery has been stored in the barns and sheds since his passing. Furthermore, his brothers have kept up with the tractors, using them periodically to make sure nothing rots and starts falling apart.

The brothers say that the 4640 was Dennis’s favorite tractor on the farm. For all of the 13-14 years he owned it, it was his favorite tractor to hook to the baler. He loved it, and he took very good care of it.

Jared has run the tractor on several occasions over the past six months and he tells me that it runs and drives very nicely. The AC does need to be recharged, and the dash cowling is missing. Other than those issues, this is a very nice machine!

Auction Details:

Date: Saturday, October 16, 2021 – 9AM Central
Location: 3152 180th St., Corydon, IA 50060
Contact: Jared Chambers (Chambers Auction & Appraisal) – 641.414.0234

As much as Jared didn’t want to do it, this one has to be an onsite-only auction. He told me, “The farm is down in a hole in southern Iowa, and cell service is pretty bad down there. The chance of running into issues with an online bidding platform would be pretty high, and that wouldn’t be fair to online bidders. So, we made the hard call to do an onsite-only auction.”

It’s a tough position to be in, but I totally understand why Jared made that call to do an onsite-only sale. If you’re interested, grab a couple of buddies and hitch up the gooseneck and go for a road trip! If I’m able, I’ll be down there for this sale!

Here’s the auction flyer.

farm equipment auction poster

What’s it worth?

Even with 12,000 hours on it, I believe that this is probably still a $22-25K tractor. Maybe higher. It’ll be interesting to see what the buyers think. Some of it could easily depend on the weather. If it’s a nice weekend, I think we’ll see a lower turnout due to harvest. However, if it’s drizzly or rainy like it was for much of the midwest last weekend, there may be a bigger turnout. One thing is for sure; if the right buyers are on the property next Saturday, I think it’ll be a hotly-contested tractor. Time will tell…

Now, the hard part of this week’s post…

This is going to be hard to write. I never imagined that I’d have to do this.

Y’know, there are certain tractor models that I’ve come to associate with certain people in my circle of friends. You’ve probably got people like this in your life, too. You’re probably thinking of them right now. For one reason or another, when you think of them, you think of that tractor model. When you think of that tractor model, you think of them.

My buddy Alex in Missouri has an almost-unhealthy obsession with 4320s. A Deere dealer from Wisconsin who I go pulling with will forever be associated with 4230s (for those of you who go to the Hillsboro Charity Tractor pull, you probably know who I’m talking about). My friend Sam (also from Missouri) is a 1086 fanatic, and the list goes on and on.

Well, Brice Volker was my John Deere 4640 guy.

I was in my hotel room in Crane, IN this past Saturday morning when I got the call that he had passed away. He was a dear friend, and a powerful voice for all things SoundGard and sustainable agriculture. I was shocked when I heard the news, and it took everything I had to keep it together until I hung up the phone.

I should’ve been checking over my camera gear, as we were to go prostock pulling one last time for the year at Wagler Motorsports Park. However, shortly after I got that call, the clouds opened up and it started raining. I’d never been more thankful to have a tractor pull called off in all my life.

Who was Brice?

Brice Volker was one of our Tractor Zoom auctioneer partners (he was part of the Speckmann Auction & Realty team), a farmer, and a successful seed salesman. All of those irons in the fire kept Brice pretty busy!

Just this past July, Brice made ag and auction history. You know those Busch Light John Deere combines that make their way around social media every so often? Well, the first one Busch ever did went to a farmer in southeastern Nebraska, and when he wanted to send it off to a new owner, he called upon Brice to do it. That was a really nice combine, too! We had a lot of fun helping him promote this sale! (That combine was also the only one that Busch allowed to be sold with the wrap still intact. Every combine that sells after this one will have to be unwrapped before it changes hands!)

John Deere S680 Busch Light combine
Brice tried like heck to coax a bald eagle into landing on the auger for this photo, but ultimately we had to add one via Photoshop…😂

The auction business took significant time and energy, but Brice’s real passion was agriculture. He didn’t farm a lot of ground, but whenever I’d ask him how farming was going, the answer was always the same; he was always behind. Additionally, Brice had a successful seed business, and he always put his customers first. There was never another way to do business for him.

Brice Volker black and white selfie in front of a corn field
Brice’s favorite place to take a selfie? In a cornfield. Always in a cornfield.

Ag Advocacy & John Deere

There was a lot more to Brice than that, though. About 7 or 8 years ago, Brice had the wild idea to start a Facebook group specifically for the 30-70 Series tractors. It was initially set up to be for the guys and girls who still farm with the SoundGard tractors. However, since then, it’s become one of the main sources of useful info about these iconic tractors. If I had to guess, some of you who are reading this post right now are members of that group. Thank Brice for that…he started it and was very active in it up until the end.

Ask anybody who’s involved with a Facebook group or some other similar social media entity; they’ll tell you that it’s a big time commitment, and that it doesn’t pay very well! I’m one of the guys who started the Beer Money Pulling Team’s FB page, and I can absolutely affirm it. It takes a lot of long hours to build a community like that! Brice did it very willingly (most of the time), and the membership has swelled to over 32,000 registered users! He was incredibly dedicated to it, and it all swelled from his passion for farming with those tractors – especially his 4640!

Brice was hilarious, too. He had a very dry sense of humor, and it complemented his personality really well. When we first met, he seemed a little bit on the reserved side. However, it didn’t take long before his true personality came out. We’d talk auctions and prices very candidly, talk about what was right (and wrong) with the industry, and life in general.

One of the things that I’ll remember most fondly about Brice was “the rules”…his rules for farming and equipment. Follow those rules and life would be good. Break ’em, and you’ll be judged. 😏  (These are all pretty tongue-in-cheek, but most are based in some form of reality.)

The Rules According to Brice…(applicable to John Deere 4640s, or just about anything else)

  1. No chopped axles. Those axles never did anything to you. If you bash your leg on an axle because you weren’t paying enough attention, pay more attention next time. Put the cutting torch away. Don’t paint ’em green either.
  2. Don’t paint your front hubs green. It looks goofy.
  3. 8-speed Powershifts lead to head injuries. Quad Range or nothin’.
  4. Don’t cheap out on parts. Buy ’em from your local Deere dealer. They support you. Support them. If you’re looking for super-obscure oddball parts, call Don’s Tractor Salvage in KS. If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.
  5. Cold start videos are stupid. Don’t make ’em. They’re hard on the engine, and nobody thinks they’re cool.
  6. Chrome straight pipes are ridiculous. (He and I never really saw eye to eye on this one. On multiple occasions, we went rounds on this one via text message. They were hilarious.)
  7. Larsen LED lights are the only acceptable add-on lights for a tractor of any kind. Let the brodozer truck crowd have the cheap Amazon LED light bars.
  8. Use ’em. Even if you collect ’em, don’t stash those tractors away. They were built for a purpose.
  9. Husker football > anything else. (We went rounds on this point, too. My Hawkeyes have the last six scoreboards on their side. I win.)

The personal side…

Brice always told me that he outkicked his coverage when he met Emily. He wasn’t wrong, either (and I can say that because I outkicked my coverage when I met Kara – I know what that looks like)! They dated for several years, which by all accounts should’ve been enough time for Emily to realize what she’d gotten herself into…but she didn’t. They truly were a team, and were absolutely in love from day one. He told me once that he had no idea how he got so lucky, but he said a prayer of thanks every morning and every night. I know how that feels, too. They would’ve celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary in early December.

Brice And Emily
Brice & Emily loved their sweetcorn. Apparently it was so good that you didn’t even have to cook it! (Hopefully Emily won’t hit me for including this one…)

I firmly believe that there were only two places on this earth where Brice felt completely comfortable and at home. One was in the field, especially during planting and harvest. The other was when he was with Emily. I’m a photographer, and I see details that you might miss at a glance. In photos, Brice looks like he’s most peaceful and at home when he’s next to her, or sitting in the cab of the 4640.

Brice And Emily2
They always believed in date night selfies, and Brice’s advice to anybody who asked was always, “Date your spouse. It always makes for a happy marriage.”

Final thoughts…

The agriculture community and the Deere community really lost somebody special on Saturday. Brice was a pillar of those communities, and he was a voice for agriculture. He loved to facilitate learning and knowledge exchange so that farmers could do better. So they could keep their machines running properly, do the best for the land and the crops, and help to be a better voice for sustainable agriculture. He cast a tall shadow in his 38 years here on Earth, and he leaves big shoes to fill as an advocate for the farmer.

We lost our John Deere 4640 guy.

They say that all the stuff we say at funerals needs to be said at birthday parties instead. Life is short, and somebody you love could be gone in the blink of an eye. Don’t waste an opportunity to tell the 4640 guy in your life what he means to you.

There’s a trending movement in support of the Volker family on social media right now – #augersoutforbrice. If you’re in the field right now, do me a favor. Take a photo with the auger/augers out. Post it somewhere on social media with that hashtag. It would mean a lot to me personally, as well as the Volker family. 

 

John Deere 4020: Two of a kind!

Hero 093021

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, let’s look at this pair of 4020s!

1965 John Deere 4020 (Gas)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s it worth?

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

Check out the full sale bill here!

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

1966 John Deere 4020 (Gas)

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

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

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

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

What’s it worth?

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

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

The Alkorn Ranch

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

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

Sentinel: The Protective Loudmouth

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

Casper: The Center of Attention

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

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

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

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

Cheap horsepower, SoundGard survivors, and temper tantrums.

cheap horsepower and a survivor 4440

Take a look at both pieces of Interesting Iron here!

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

Before we get to this week’s Interesting Iron…

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

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

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

Tractor Zoom v2.0 on a mobile device!

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

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

Cheap Horsepower: 1996 John Deere 8870

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

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

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

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

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

The 8870 you can buy today…

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

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

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

See the Dealer Listing for this tractor.

The Survivor: 1981 John Deere 4440

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

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

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

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

The one you can buy on Saturday…

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

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

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

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

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

See the auction listing for this 4440.

 

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

Temper tantrums, YouTube videos, and American icons…

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

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

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

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

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

The comments didn’t stop.

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

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

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

My take on this whole thing…

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

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

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

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

The Fallout

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

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

Final thoughts.

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

Folks, that is NOT okay.

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

We’re better than that.

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

Find a red tractor of your own here.

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

Collage of photos of three red tractors and a semi

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

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

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

Allie: The 1939 Allis Chalmers B Low Rider!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1987 Ford LTL 9000: Packin’ 4 ¼…

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

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

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

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

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

IH 1468 MFWD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A4T-1600: The Minneapolis Moline Maverick

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tying up a couple of loose ends…

The Empire from last week…

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

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

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

The F-250 Power Stroke from two weeks ago…

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

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

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

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

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

Yep, somebody actually wrote that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highly modified red Empire tractor

See the details on this unique Empire 88!

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

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

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

The Cliff Notes version of Empire Tractors and their history…

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

empire tractor badge
The badge of an empire-builder!

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

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

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

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

Making an Empire fit for a King and a Queen

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

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

The Cab

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

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

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

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

A place to park a scooter!

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

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

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

What’s it worth?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

The Thieman Tractor: Harold’s Hearse

 

Thieman Tractor Hearse

Get the details on this tractor

Every now and then, our auction partners post stuff on Tractor Zoom that might be stretching it a bit. For instance, last month, an auctioneer listed an ancient tug boat. Last year, I remember seeing a few Corvettes, an RV or two, and a couple of restored Chevelles. Heck, I even wrote about a Ford Galaxy that Matt Maring sold way back when Interesting Iron was just an email!

But we’ve never had a hearse listed before. Yep, you read that right.

A hearse.

Made out of a tractor.

By a man called Harold.

Now, I haven’t done a ton of research on topics like this, but I think this could be the world’s only actual hearse constructed from a tractor. Furthermore, Harold didn’t use just any old garden variety Farmall or John Deere. Nope, he built it from a fairly obscure tractor that’s actually pretty interesting in and of itself.

He used a Thieman.

ThiemanHearse
It began life as a big wooden crate full of parts shipped to a farmer assemble. By 2012, when Harold acquired it, it was a basketcase. Now it looks like this! Click the photo to see the Tractor Zoom listing for this one!

What’s a Thieman? (Pronounced “Tee-min”, by the way)

Well, it’s the last name of five industrious brothers from Albert City, IA who started the Thieman Harvester Co. in 1921. They built a variety of things – everything from silage harvesters to tractors, and even burial vaults. The main goal was to build quality products at affordable prices – a welcome relief, given the hardships that farmers faced in the 30s.

The tractor was the brainchild of William B. Thieman, the company’s president, general manager, and inventor. From what I’m told, he was the kind of guy who could see a concept in his head, build it in the shop, and then manage a product rollout. In 1929, he began experimenting with a tractor built around the idea of cheap, economical horsepower. It was pretty rudimentary, but after 3 years of design and testing, they began selling it in 1932. Thieman sourced most of the important parts from salvaged Fords; it used a Model A engine, driveshaft, and rear end. I’m not sure if the transmission came from Ford or not, but I know it had 3 forward speeds and reverse.

Thieman tractor
Most Thieman tractors used Ford Model A engines. Harold decided to pay tribute to that with his hearse.

The Ikea method…before Ikea did it!

Thieman had an interesting model for selling these tractors, too; they were all sold as build it yourself kits (just like Ikea does today with just about everything they sell). For about $500, the kit came in a big wooden crate with everything needed to put the tractor together (including salvaged Model A parts). However, if a farmer wanted to save money and source his own parts, Thieman also sold the kit for $185 without a motor, driveshaft, or rear end. The instructions told the farmer to use a motor from one of the Big Three. That said, I’m sure that somewhere, some farmer probably pulled a Farmall four-banger from an F-20 and made it fit, too.

Because of the way they were sold, and because the engines were all sourced from the scrapyard, each Thieman tractor was somewhat unique. If you find one at a tractor show today, who knows what you’ll find between the frame rails? I’ve heard of flathead V8s being used, and as I’m writing this, I’m sure somebody’s wondering if they could shoehorn an old 5.9 Cummins under the hood…

Most of the $500 Thieman tractors are painted red like the one below. If you see one that’s painted another color, that was one of the $185 kits. As I understand it, those were not painted before leaving the factory.

Thieman tractor
Gary Alan Nelson is an unbelievably talented photographer from MN. Here, he captures a 1936 Thieman tractor in the afternoon sun. Click the photo to see more of his work…it’s utterly gorgeous!

Successful…ish

By 1936, the Thieman tractor had gathered some steam. The factory in Albert City was running around the clock to put these kits together and get ’em out the door. When I say “around the clock”, I’m not kidding; Thieman never turned the lights off in the factory. They employed over 150 people at one point!

Thieman tractors were, for their time, fairly powerful. The Model A motor made about 40 horse, so that put them in a fairly good position – especially given the cost of the competition! Over time, Thieman added a few well-received upgrades; $123 would get you rubber wheels all the way around, $7 would get you an air cleaner, $9 would get you a combination drawbar, and $15 would get you a governor.

That last option – the governor – was money well spent, in my opinion. These are pretty lightweight tractors, and from what I’m told (I’ve never driven one), it was easy to flip the tractor over backwards if your foot slipped off the clutch!

The Thieman tractor also does deserve a spot in the history books for a mechanical innovation they put into production before anybody else. They fitted their tractors with a starter! No more spinning the flywheel to start the motor!

The 40s

Sadly, Thieman Harvester Co. came to an abrupt end in the early 40s. Several of the five Thieman brothers passed away at a relatively young age; in fact, none of the brothers lived to see their 60th birthday. Furthermore, the war effort brought on a steel shortage, making it all but impossible for the small tractor builder to source materials.

At the end of the day, nobody really knows how many Thieman tractor kits were sold; most estimates are in the 4-5000 neighborhood. The company changed hands twice before it shut the doors for good in 1944. At some point, those records must’ve been lost or (more likely) destroyed. Either way, it’s a shame.

Thieman never set out to set the farming world on fire, because that wasn’t really what America’s farmers needed during the 30s. They simply needed to get by, and put food on their tables. Thieman tractors weren’t super-stylish, they were cobbled together using second-hand parts pulled out of junkyards, fencerows, and junk piles. But they helped many farmers through some awfully lean years when providing for a family was a struggle. Furthermore, the Thieman brothers employed hundreds of people around Albert City, and helped keep their town from being wiped off the map during the Great Depression! That’s a pretty noble cause in my book! (Even if the tractors did tip over once in a while!)

Harold and his hearse…

First, some video.

Harold Boquist is the guy behind this neat Thieman tractor hearse creation, and I chatted with him for a few minutes tonight after dinner. He’s a super-nice guy with a great sense of humor, as you’ll find out later on…

The first question I asked him was simply, “Why?” He said, “Y’know, my wife and I have watched old Westerns for years, and you always see the horse-drawn hearse in the funeral scenes. Well, this isn’t much different…just updated a few years!”

Harold went on to tell me that he’d been a Thieman collector for years. At one point, he’d had 10 of ’em! He sold most of them a few years ago at an auction hosted by our friends at Nixon Auctioneers. Over time, he’s whittled the collection down to just a couple projects that he and his wife have really enjoyed – this Thieman, and an Empire tractor (that hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to show you at some point in the future). Empire tractors are pretty interesting, and his is probably the most unique one left!

The Hearse Project

At any rate, Harold’s had a thing for Thieman tractors. The company’s ideology – helping farmers get by when times were really tough – is one that he really believes in. This particular Thieman was rotting away in a boneyard in Sioux City until he and his wife rescued it back in 2012. “It wasn’t much when we got it,” he said, “They put it on my trailer with a big forklift!”

The nuts & bolts of the build…

Over the next year, Harold transformed it from a basketcase to what you see here. “It really wasn’t all that hard,” he told me, “Thiemans are easy to modify, and the driveline is a pretty simple thing to mess with, too.” He lengthened the chassis by about 14-15″ so he could install a second transmission back-to-back with the first one. “I needed a lower set of gears so I could creep it up on to a trailer,” he said, “They’re not much for road gears, so if we were going to put it on display, we had to trailer it there. The extra gears really helped with that.”

He further explained that he swapped out the original tricycle front end to a wide-front axle to make it more stable (I believe that also came from a Model A). Once he’d built the frame, he turned to the cosmetic side, and the wooden/glass chamber. All of that is hand-built, and he even built a coffin and put it in the chamber!

Harold did all the work himself, from welding to fabrication, even the paint and cosmetics. He did a pretty darn nice job too, from where I’m sitting! This is a very well-engineered project! When I asked him what his favorite part of the project was, he said, “I think we enjoyed showing it more than anything. We really got around with this thing!”

Img (7)
When Harold said that they got around in this thing, he wasn’t kidding. This is one of a handful of “Best In Show” honors the hearse took home from gatherings!

In all actuality, though, Harold built this Thieman tractor hearse for his own funeral. Both he and his wife had planned on taking one last ride in it. However, as time went on, they felt that perhaps somebody else should enjoy it. Reading between the lines a little bit, I felt like maybe they didn’t want the next owner to feel weird knowing that it had actually served its intended purpose.

I get that. As a buyer, that might make me feel a little weird, too.

Wrapping Up…

If you told me a year ago that I’d write a column about a tractor turned hearse, I’d have probably laughed at you. Yet…here we are! That said, I’ve learned to never say never. This must be one of the most unique tractors I’ve ever seen, and I’m really glad that I talked to Harold about it.

What’s it worth?

I couldn’t even begin to guess. Hopefully it’s worth a small fortune, and that whomever ends up buying it will appreciate it – and the story of it – as much as I have! Bidding doesn’t open up for another few days, and the auction doesn’t close until July 21, 2021, so there’s plenty of time for it to travel around the internet a little. It’ll be fun to watch it sell, and I know Harold will be excited to see who takes it home!

(I do have somebody in mind for this tractor. I’m not sure if he’ll bite on it or not, but if there’s one guy on this planet that really NEEDS this tractor…it’s a certain super farm puller who lives near Rossville, IL.)

For those of you who follow the NTPA Super Farms, here’s your clue. 😁

PartingShot Andersen

Auctioneer: Sweeney Auction & Realty – Greeley, NE

Auction Details

John Deere 4030: Rare ones from Nebraska!

John Deere 4030 tractors
These two John Deere 4030 tractors are pretty rare! They sell at a Nebraska auction on July 14, 2021! Click the photo for the details!

See the details on these John Deere 4030 tractors here!

Although nobody knew it at the time, August 19, 1972 was to become one of the most pivotal days in John Deere history. Actually, it was a pretty big day for farming in general.

The Generation II tractors launched at Deere dealers nationwide on August 19, 1972. Four all-new tractors with a brand new game-changing design, and a new objective – operator comfort. These were the first tractors built with a cab in mind, and they did it right. The 4030, 4230, 4430, and 4630 coupled with the SoundGard body changed farming as we know it!

The 4030 was the baby of the Generation II line (a little like the 766 was to Harvester’s 66-series). It was a do-it-all tractor built to replace the 3020. Most 4030s were powered by a naturally-aspirated diesel 329ci inline six (more on that in a bit). Rated at about 80 horse, they worked well for smaller tasks on the farm. In total, there were 15,690 built from 1973-1977, and lots of ’em are still at work on farms across America. We see John Deere 4030 tractors at auction once in a while – according to our Iron Comps database, 29 have sold over the past year.

You said “most”…what’s the story there?

By 1973, gas-powered big tractors were on their way out. Deere was nearly certain of this, but they did offer a gas 4030 to see what it would do. I don’t think they had a lot of faith that they’d sell, though. They never sent one to the Nebraska Lab to be tested. Results were pretty predictable…it didn’t sell well. So, after building 222 tractors, they dumped the option.

And that’s where we get into this week’s Interesting Iron, selling at a Ruhter Auction & Realty consignment sale on July 14!

1973 John Deere 4030 Gas/Syncro/STANDARD

4030 Gas Synchro Standard
Is this a one of one John Deere 4030? Steve Plambeck thinks it could very well be! Click the photo to see the auction listing on Tractor Zoom!

Steve Plambeck is the seller of both of this week’s tractors (and a friend of mine as well). When I talked to him yesterday, he told me that this might be the rarest 4030 on the planet. He’s well-qualified to speak on the subject, too; he’s a noted Deere historian, and has a heck of a collection of SoundGard-era tractors at his farm southwest of Grand Island, NE!

Deere built a total of 222 4030 gassers, 122 with Syncro Range transmissions. What makes this one hyper-unique, though, is that it’s a factory Standard configuration. No rock shaft, no 3-point, and a wide-swing drawbar! Steve told me that he’s never seen another one like this in all his years as a collector!

4030 Gas Standard Wide Swing DrawbarThis 4030’s got a wide-swing drawbar, and that coupled with a factory rock shaft delete might just make this one a unicorn!

4030 Cab Tricycle Dealer Decal

A collector found this tractor in North Dakota about 8-10 years ago, I believe. It’s changed hands a few times since then, but nobody restored it. That’s all-original paint and patina, which is the way I like ’em!  It originally shipped to Taylor Bros, Inc. in Great Falls, MT. Based on my research, Taylor Bros incorporated around the same time this tractor rolled off the line. This is probably one of the first tractors sold at their dealership! The meter shows 3510 hours, and Steve’s kept it in good running condition. I believe he may have replaced the rubber and maybe the seat as well.

4030 Gas Standard Hood
This one is all-original too, save for fresh rubber all the way around (and maybe a new seat).

 

Wrapping up…

Can we claim it as a one of one? No. Steve hasn’t seen all 222 4030s to verify, and Deere didn’t keep detailed records during the 70s. That said…collectors talk. If there’s another 4030 gas syncro standard out there, nobody’s found it yet. So, for now, let’s call it 1 of 122. That’s rare as far as Generation II tractors go! It’ll be fun to watch this one sell!

1975 John Deere 4030 Diesel/Syncro/Factory Convertible Front End/Soundgard Cab

Boy, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?

4030 Cab Tricycle
Remember the tractor that Tow Mater tipped over in Cars? This may as well have been the inspiration for it…and now you can own it! It sells at a Nebraska auction on July 14, 2021! Click the photo to see the details!

 

When’s the last time you saw a tricycle with a SoundGard? Definitely not something you see everyday. The best part of this one? It’s all factory! 4030s and 4230s could be had with either a Roll-O-Matic narrow front end (with one or two wheels) or a wide-front axle. The neat thing about the narrow-front option is that Deere’s engineers designed it to be converted it to a wide-front whenever you want! Factory wide-front tractors didn’t have this feature. If you ever see a narrow front like this one on a 4030, 4230, or 4040, it’s a safe bet that it came from the factory that way!

This tractor has spent pretty much all of its life in Western NE. It’s had two owners before Steve. The second owner hung on to it for close to 30 years before selling it to him.

 

This is a low-houred tractor, too. Only 5511 original hours! Steve says that it’s nice and tight, and drives really nicely too! It’s very clean inside, and the interior is a lot cleaner than a lot of 30-series tractors I’ve seen! It was resprayed at some point during the second owner’s time with it, and the rubber is fresh, too.

4030 Cab Tricycle Hood

Wrapping up…

Overall, this is a really nice tractor, and it’s pretty rare, too. Like I said, Deere’s records from this era aren’t awesome, making it hard to know how many they built. But that said…there definitely aren’t many. I know that Tom Renner has a 4230 set up like this in his collection, I saw a 4230 like this sell at an auction in Missouri a couple of years ago, and there was a 4030 sitting on a dealer’s lot in Ohio about 10 years ago that showed up on AgTalk, but that’s about it.

4030cab Agtalk
This 4030 was on a dealer’s lot in Findlay, OH about 10 years ago. No idea where it went, though…

Honestly, I have no idea what either of these will bring. Both of these fall into that unique category where there aren’t many comps. I’ll be really interested to see what they sell for!

One more thing…

If you saw a bunch of photos of really nice green tractors at a show over the past few days on social media, Steve had something to do with that, too. In addition to being a collector and restorer, he also sits on the board of directors for the Classic Green Society. Every other year, they host the Classic Green Reunion, and this past weekend it was in Columbus, OH. I couldn’t go, but I’m told it was a terrific show! Well-attended, too!

Classic Green Reunion 2023
If 2021 was any indication, the 2023 Reunion will be bigger than ever!

That said, I do intend to get to the next one in 2023. I won’t have anything to exhibit, but I’ll bring the camera and video gear and take y’all along for the ride!

Click here to see more of these cool 4030s!

 

Used Combine Values and What the Recent AHW Dealer Auction Can Teach Us

Used combine values are a big concern for many this year.  This is especially true going into the high demand August market with a tight supply of farm equipment. Just last week we saw a significant sale with Sullivan’s AHW dealer auction on June 15th. The listing was heavy with harvesting combines, draper heads, plus a few late model tractors and sprayers. This auction provides a great look at the market’s direction when analyzed with our Iron Comps database.

With over 60 lots of AHW’s equipment sold, we chose just a few significant pieces to test against the current trendline. Used combine values may be the most intriguing for dealers to look at now so they can gauge what the market may look like in August during prime selling season. For those interested in tractors, headers, and self-propelled sprayers, I’ll be diving into those in some upcoming analysis. The good mix of both Hagie and Case make for a nice brand comparison of sprayers!

Case-IH 2377

Harvester sales at this Sullivan auction ranged from $61,000 for a 15 year old Case-IH 2377, to a 2018 John Deere S780 2WD valued at $288,000. In addition to studying these bookends, a 2017 S680 4WD was analyzed. It has relatively low hours and some bells and whistles worth looking at.

The 15 year old Case 2377 may temper an overly bullish outlook on this market. With just over 2,000K separator hours, this would have justified $55,000 based on the Separator Hours vs Price graph which trends 2019 and 2020 values shown below.

Case IH 2377 Used Combine Values
Iron Comps Values Case IH 2377 Combines

10% above expectation may seem bullish, but compare that to the most recent sale where a 3,000 sep hour model sold for $67,000. This reaffirms what we have been sharing about late 2020 and early 2021 sales. Most older machines are seeing a flat or modest single-digit year over year increase in expected values.

If you caught our 5 Trends for Equipment Dealers webinar last month, you will recall that used combine values had not yet seen the post-pandemic bump that tractors have been experiencing. Some of this delay may be due to the void of late-model machines on the market. This theory was tested with a relatively young 2018 John Deere S780 at the AHW auction, which brought the top combine value of $288,000. We will dive into that next.

John Deere S780

The entire auctioneers description for this S780 is as follows:

2018 John Deere S780 2wd combine, ProDrive trans., ContourMaster feederhouse w/CommandTouch 5 spd. drive & hyd. fore/aft, 28.5′ unload auger, PowerFold bin extension, chopper, PowerCast tailboard, Active Yield, 650/85R38 drive tires and duals, 750/65R26 steer tires, LED lights, premium cab, 10″ display w/AutoTrac, Turn Automation, Data Sync, Implement Guidance, In-Field Data Sharing, Machine Sync, RowSense & Section Control activations, 899 eng./640 sep. hours, SN 1H0S780SJJ0801614

Our Tractor Zoom database has a significant number of these S780 for a quality comparison. In the  bottom bar graph below you can see a slight year over year average price increase in the S780 values. Because of all the variables in play we need to look at closer comparables to truly judge market movement. In the top graph, the orange square represents where this AHW combine ranks in terms of separator hours and sale price.

John Deere S780 Used Combine Values
Iron Comps Values of John Deere S780 Combines

Our AHW S780 is on the top end of expected values for its hours when compared to the past three years. High, but certainly not an outlier. Below we drill down even further into a look at two specific comparables. The first screenshot of Iron Comps Auction Results surfaces the most recent sale dates and closest hours. This view indicates that used combine values may have hit a ceiling.

John Deere S780 Combines Sold In 2021 Between 500 And 700 Sep Hours

However this does not indicate the market is reversing by any stretch of the imagination. Below the next image narrows down the search to the two closest sep hour comparables. Both sold in the combine flurry that was last August of 2020.

John Deere S780 Combine Between 600 And 700 Seperator Hours
John Deere S780 Combine Between 600 And 700 Separator Hours

You can see how much values have risen in just a year. From $249,000 average last year to $288,000 for this auction. A 15% jump!

John Deere S680

We have explored the top and bottom of used combine values in this auction. Approximately a 15% to 10% increase is seen, respectively, over last year. Let’s open it up and see if a mid-hour combine falls somewhere in between. A 2017 John Deere S680 4WD sold for $186,000 with just over 1,000 separator hours. Below is the full auctioneers description:

2017 John Deere S680 4wd combine, ProDrive trans., ContourMaster feederhouse w/CommandTouch 5 spd. drive & hyd. fore/aft, 26′ unload auger, chopper, PowerCast tailboard, bin extension w/tip-ups, 520/Interactive Combine Adjust, ActiveYield, LED lights, premium cab, 1,445 eng./1,071 sep. hours, SN 1H0S680SPG0795113

Comparing our S680 with other 2021 sales, the value is in line with others in the TZ database. A great comparison, pictured below, sold in late March of 2021 at a consignment auction in Minnesota for $200,000.

John Deere S680 Comparable Value for $200,000
Iron Comps S680 Combine Values

While this comp does have a refrigerator, the other options are similar and reinforce the theory that 2021 values may have hit a top and stabilized for now.

Iron Comps has the ability to filter by hours and auction type. Using this we can slice data to consist of only S680’s between 900 – 1100 hours sold at dealer auctions. Contrasting these historic equipment values, this AHW combine’s sale price exceeds 2019 and 2020 values by about 30%.

Comparable John Deere S680 At Dealer Auctions Between 900 And 1100 Hours
Comparable John Deere S680 At Dealer Auctions Between 900 And 1100 Hours

Used Combine Values in 2021

Big movements in used equipment values tend to coincide directionally with significant commodity price changes. With the exception of wheat, current cooling of the corn and soybean markets may be tapping the brakes on the rising used equipment values we have been riding over the past eight months. Another major factor at play will be the necessary demand of combines prior to this fall. Will a tight new and late model supply force prices even higher? Will downward pressure of the grain markets have any effect?  To answer these questions keep your Iron Comps app open and your eyes on the most recent sales!

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!