Farmall Land: It was never really about the tractors…


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For a lot of the farmers and self-proclaimed “tractor nerds” that I know, a trip to Farmall Land USA was a bucket list thing. If you’re reading this, it probably was on your bucket list too – and I hope it was one you crossed off before Jerry & Joyce Mez turned off the lights for the final time about a year ago.

Farmall H on the top of a tall tower, welcoming guests to Farmall Land.
Today, the familiar Farmall H on a pole is about all that’s left of Farmall Land.

Sadly, Jerry Mez passed away surrounded by his family on September 29, 2021 (two weeks ago today). It was a year and two days after they closed the museum.

I was in Poseyville, IN shooting some drone video of soybean harvest for some friends of mine when I found out, and it hit me pretty hard. Later that evening, we talked about Jerry and Farmall Land over supper. Brad & Andrew are die-hard red farmers, and they’d always wanted to get out there to see the museum before it closed. Sadly, they never crossed that one off of their bucket list.

During the course of that evening’s conversation, though, I realized something.

It was never really about the tractors.

When I said that to Brad, and he looked at me like I’d lost my marbles. (You’re probably thinking it too…)

It was never really about the tractors…

Farmall Land was more than just the tractors. Maybe that’s the way I should’ve stated it.

With the exception of a few pretty rare or unique tractors, nearly everything in the Farmall Land collection was relatively common. I’m certain there are private collections as well as a few public ones that are bigger, and have rarer models. One of Jerry’s favorite series were the 06s, and arguably his favorite model was the 1206. There’s a 1206 that you can buy on October 23rd at an auction about a half hour away from where I’m sitting right now. Furthermore, if you bring a big enough trailer, you can take home a 706, a 1066, and a project Super MD from the same sale!

Farmall 1206 at a tractor auction
Here’s the 1206 you can buy at a tractor auction on October 23, 2021. It needs some TLC, but I believe that it drove to Mark Putney’s auction yard. (Click the photo to see the TZ auction listing.)

I’ll give you this. The massive amount of iron crammed into that little building in Avoca was impressive. At any given time, Jerry had 150 or more tractors shoehorned into about 27,000 square feet! I think I counted 166 on one visit! For the most part, they were presentation-ready, too. They didn’t all run, but they nearly all had fresh coats of paint, and they all looked great!

a row of red tractors and a row of yellow tractors
On the left, you can see the emblem and the yellow hood of an IH power unit that ran an asphalt chipper. There aren’t a lot of those left!

The memorabilia, dealer advertising, toys, as well as the other stuff that Harvester got into over the years was also impressive. Many of those things were pretty rare – especially given their condition. Jerry had everything from coffeemakers that looked like Hy-Tran containers, Zippo lighters from the IH Photography Department, more IH refrigerators and freezers than I’ve ever seen before…you name it, he had it!

Case IH Coffee Maker
This was one of the Hy-Tran coffeemakers that was on display at Farmall Land. It went for a small fortunate at one of Ken Girard’s auctions late last fall!

Still, I think it was more than just the tractors and the stuff.

Why Farmall Land was so special…

Farmall Land was so special because of Jerry & Joyce Mez, their passion for red tractors, and the role they played in agriculture. From the second you  signed in at the desk, you could feel it. It truly was something that they couldn’t contain – especially Jerry. He would always get this great big smile on his face whenever he heard the bells on the door ring – I must have seen it happen half a dozen times! Of all the things associated with the museum, I think that big smile and the excitement in his voice when he got to take a farm family on a guided tour will be what I miss most. I thought about this the other day on my way out to the visitation, and I’d be a liar if I said that my eyes didn’t well up with tears when I did.

farmall land owners jerry & joyce mez
Farmall Land was their happy place – especially for Jerry. It truly was a labor of love.

One last time.

I believe I made seven visits to Farmall Land in total. My last trip, however…that one was pretty special. That was the one where I officially checked it off the bucket list. I’d called Ken Girard (Girard handled the Farmall Land auctions) to see if Jerry was going to be around, because I was going to ask him to sign my little piece of Farmall Land before I took it home. He told me that he was, but that he wasn’t sure for how long, so I’d best hurry.

I’ve never made the trip out to Avoca that fast in all my life!

When I got there, I learned that that day was a hard one for Jerry. Many of these tractors had been with him for 40 years or more, and seeing them leave was hard for him. That particular day, he had to say goodbye to several tractors that he was truly attached to, which was very tough. His face was full of sadness, and I could tell that it wasn’t the right time to chat him up.

Front 3/4 photo of an IH 1566 from Farmall Land
This 1566 factory T/A delete was one of the last tractors to leave Farmall Land.

So, I turned on the camera and shot a live video for our Facebook page. I walked through what remained in the building and previewed what would sell on the final auction. Just about the time I started to wrap it up, Jerry poked his head out of his office door. (You can catch him in the last little bit of that video here. My apologies for the video quality – pole barns aren’t good for cell signal.)

My own personal guided tour…

When I turned off the camera, Jerry turned to me, and said, “Let me show you something.” And for the next hour, Jerry gave me my own guided tour, just me and him. It felt like this was his way of decompressing, and who was I to put the brakes on that? So I did what I knew how to do.

I got him talking.

We talked about the history of some of the tractors left in the building, life as a dealer, pulling, and the tremendous friendships he’d made as a result of the building we were standing in. As he talked, I noticed that the twinkle came back to his eyes as all of those good memories came flooding back. Honestly, it was pretty amazing to watch, and it was one of the neatest experiences I’ve had in a long time. I’ll never forget it, either.

As I was leaving, I promised him that the next time I saw him at an Outlaw pull, I’d put the camera down and watch a class with them. He smiled and said, “I’m gonna hold you to it!” Then we shook hands, and I remember telling him, “So long, Jerry. Thanks for everything!” His response was one I’d heard many times before. “Thanks for stopping by!”

That was the last conversation we ever had. Sadly, I didn’t see him at any events this summer and never got to keep my promise.

And maybe that was the way it was supposed to be.

Jerry’s parting gift…

Jerry’s parting gift to me – and maybe all of us – was not just a really cool collection of tractors and memorabilia. It was his passion. He truly loved International Harvester and red tractors, but I think he loved sharing his passion with the people he met even more. That was his legacy, and I’m certain it’ll live on for years and years to come. It was never really about the tractors. It was about the passion, and sharing it with others. It’s part of the reason that you’re reading this post right now, and why I started writing this blog.

So long, Jerry. Thank you for everything.

Side view of a Farmall Land 1206
Jerry kept a few tractors after the museum closed, but this one was always his favorite. His father sold it new in 1966. Jerry bought it back in 1988 and restored it to what you see here. It’s fitting that this beautiful 1206 carried him to his final resting place this past Saturday.



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

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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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, let’s look at this pair of 4020s!

1965 John Deere 4020 (Gas)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s it worth?

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

Check out the full sale bill here!

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

1966 John Deere 4020 (Gas)

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

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

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

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

What’s it worth?

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

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

The Alkorn Ranch

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

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

Sentinel: The Protective Loudmouth

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

Casper: The Center of Attention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Oliver with airplane parts!?!?!?

Super44 Copy 2

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

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

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

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

What’s it worth?

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

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

Full Sale Bill

1975 International Transtar 4300 Grain Truck

International Transtar 4300 at auction

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

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

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

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

What’s it worth?

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

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

John Deere 4630 Open Station

4630 Open Station 2 Copy 3

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

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

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

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

What’s it worth?

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

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

How Utility Tractor Values Differ by Region

Values Of Utility Tractors By Region

Utility tractors have seen some of the biggest increases in auction values this past year and their usage is ubiquitous across the varied terrain of the US.  In this post we will investigate how these utility tractor values differ depending on the region. Location may not be the top determinant of equipment values, but it does matter. This was a follow-up question from our last webinar. “How does this [analysis] apply to my dealership in the mountain west?” We answered that question in a video post here. This week’s webinar will broaden the scope to also look at how row crop tractors and the John Deere S670 is valued differently across states.

The flat, open land of the grain belt naturally sets a ceiling for most ag equipment used in corn, soybean and wheat geographies. Larger tractors, combines, and other grain equipment will typically bring higher values with a substantially higher volume sold. The graph below depicts the region average price difference of utility tractors (100 – 174 HP) sold in 2019 and 2020. This analysis utilized Iron Comp’s filtering options to arrive at two comparable data sets. Below are tractors with less than 5,000 hours, and sold at auction for more than $10,000 between January and August.

Utility Tractor Values by Region

What we see first are the value peaks representing the Midwest. All other regions’ were 14% lower than the Midwest in 2020 and 23% lower in 2021. This increased discrepancy is not surprising when you consider what is driving the demand in the Midwest. The 2020 and 2021 bullish grain market.

Values Of Utility Tractors By Region

So how much have regional utility tractor rates increased from early 2020 to 2021? You could break out the calculator with the graph figures above, or you can let us do the math below.

Iron Comps Change in Utility Tractor Values by Region YOY
Similar to the demand logic about the Midwest, other regions with high demand of utility tractors should also see higher year over year increases. The Northeast’s heavy use of utility tractors in dairy country are a good example. The New England region has a 38% year over year increase in value.

In this data set there were fewer comparables from the Rockies and Pacific states with the applied month and sale price filters. When this happens the average should receive less weight in your valuation model. A more direct look at comparables may be more beneficial. Iron Comps has recently added in a search by state function. Check out the Auction Results screenshot below. This allows for faster sorting and locating of the best comps. 

Iron Comps Auction Results: Search By State Utility Case IH

If you are interested in learning more about how utility tractor values differ by region (and combine and row crop tractors too!), tune into the webinar tomorrow!

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

combine depreciation can be a costly part of upgrading

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Current Market Value

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








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

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

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

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

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

Interest Expense

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

Expected Repairs

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

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

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

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

Fuel Expense

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

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

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

Combine Depreciation (Actual Depreciation)

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

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

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

Total Cost of Ownership

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

graph showing total cost of ownership for a john deere combine

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

The Bottom Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shop combines at auctions & dealerships nationwide!

Cheap horsepower, SoundGard survivors, and temper tantrums.

cheap horsepower and a survivor 4440

Take a look at both pieces of Interesting Iron here!

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

Before we get to this week’s Interesting Iron…

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

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

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

Tractor Zoom v2.0 on a mobile device!

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

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

Cheap Horsepower: 1996 John Deere 8870

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

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

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

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

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

The 8870 you can buy today…

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

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

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

See the Dealer Listing for this tractor.

The Survivor: 1981 John Deere 4440

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

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

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

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

The one you can buy on Saturday…

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

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

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

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

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

See the auction listing for this 4440.


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

Temper tantrums, YouTube videos, and American icons…

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

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

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

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

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

The comments didn’t stop.

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

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

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

My take on this whole thing…

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

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

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

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

The Fallout

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

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

Final thoughts.

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

Folks, that is NOT okay.

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

We’re better than that.

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

Find a red tractor of your own here.

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

Collage of photos of three red tractors and a semi

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

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

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

Allie: The 1939 Allis Chalmers B Low Rider!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1987 Ford LTL 9000: Packin’ 4 ¼…

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

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

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

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

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

IH 1468 MFWD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A4T-1600: The Minneapolis Moline Maverick

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tying up a couple of loose ends…

The Empire from last week…

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

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

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

The F-250 Power Stroke from two weeks ago…

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

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

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

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

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

Yep, somebody actually wrote that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highly modified red Empire tractor

See the details on this unique Empire 88!

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

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

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

The Cliff Notes version of Empire Tractors and their history…

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

empire tractor badge
The badge of an empire-builder!

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

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

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

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

Making an Empire fit for a King and a Queen

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

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

The Cab

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

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

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

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

A place to park a scooter!

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

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

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

What’s it worth?

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

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

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

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

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




Used Combine Values in 2021

2021 Case IH combine values

2021 Case IH Combines Values on Iron Comps

Are you looking to buy or price a used combine before the 2021 harvest? You and everyone else (and you better hurry)! The prices have jumped with the supply of all used equipment tightening, but not equally for all types of harvesters. This is where used combine values in 2021 have differed from used tractor values. In this Iron Comps Insights, the Tractor Zoom data for combine auction sales is broken down over the past four years to better understand the trend that is driving 2021 used combine costs.

If you prefer an in-depth guided tour of this set of Iron Comps data, the video below walks through how different auction markets are behaving for combine sales that have taken place between the months of January and August. This segmentation allows a comparison of 2021 sales with the prior years without the typical end of year spike in December throwing off the numbers.

The biggest takeaways from the video are directional.  The values in the middle of the 2021 used combine market have shifted up. Harvesters with 1,000 – 2,000 separator hours are now worth considerably more than they were a year ago. In the following graphs, the past four years are averaged out for this same set of months. This provides a clearer picture of what is happening to harvesters in the ranges of 0-750, 1K-2K, and 2K-3K separator hours.

Used Combine Values With Less Than 750 Separator Hours

Considering all the hype that used equipment values have received this year, one would expect low-hour, late-model combines to be leading that surge. Not the case. They are up over last year, but not to the extent that newer tractor values have risen.   We saw this in the video too. 2020 was a phenominal summer for combine sales, so the bar was set high. This year there just has not been the available volume of those premium machines, which may be driving farmers in need of a combine to look at ones with slightly higher hours.

Iron Comps' Combine Values with Separator Hours less than 750 in 2021
Iron Comps’ Combine Values with Separator Hours less than 750 in 2021

Used Combine Values With 1,000 – 2,000 Separator Hours

2021 appears to be the year for mid-hour combine sales.  With low availability at the lower hours combined with an extremely profitable crop in the field, farmers have justified bidding higher to make sure they are prepared for this fall.

Iron Comps' Combine Values with Separator Hours Between 1,000 - 2,000 in 2021
Iron Comps’ Combine Values with Separator Hours Between 1,000 – 2,000 in 2021

This $11,000 jump in value over a year ago equates to almost a 14% rise in value.  A significant driver of this increase is availability of combines. In our Tractor Zoom data, there have been 17% fewer combines sold in this range this year compared to last. This is despite the fact we’ve added 50% more auctioneers already this year, covering over 75% of the US auction market!

Part of this rise may also be level setting. You can see that values in 2018 and 2019 were a little closer to this year’s current average prices. A good reminder that valleys and peaks do not last forever.

Used Combine Values With 2,000 – 3,000 Separator Hours

In this final look, we increase the usage to include between 2,000 to 3,000 separator hours.

Iron Comps' Combine Values with Separator Hours Between 2,000 - 3,000 in 2021
Iron Comps’ Combine Values with Separator Hours Between 2,000 – 3,000 in 2021

The year over year average combine value increases $6,000. Approximately the same annual rate, 16%, as the previous graph. Unlike the previous hour segment though, the supply for 2,000 – 3,000 sep hour combines is closer to what we saw in 2020.

What Are Combine Values Going This December?

This is the big crystal ball question, right? With a few variables out there, like actual verse USDA projected yields, it is impossible to tell for certain. Yet, we can look historically to see what has happened before. 2019 was a tough, but relatively consistent harvest season. In that year the average used auction price of combines between 1,000 – 2,000 sep hours increased 13% in December (over the January to August values shown above). In 2020, that rise was 23%! Remember that commodity prices started to take off in September, so it was anything but consistent.  Whatever this fall brings, if you are looking to purchase, or find the the value of a combine, be sure to check Iron Comps. The most recent comparable sale in a turbulent market can be the difference between gaining or losing 5% of the value right out of the gate!

Tractor Zoom is connecting farm equipment auctioneers and buyers faster than ever before. Finding farm equipment at auction has never been so easy.

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