Tractor show goes time travelling

Many visitors to Farm Progress like the antique tractor and truck show because they remember driving them

Nostalgia is a powerful draw for antique vehicle shows, but it works even better when visitors can say, “hey, that’s my tractor.”

Well, sort of.

The John Deere 5020 tractor owned by Adriaan and Justin Lievaart of Estevan, Sask., was one of the stars of the antique tractors and truck show at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina in part because it was a heavy hitter on the Prairies in its heyday.

“It stands out because it’s got big rubber and a lot of people remember riding those,” said Adriaan Lievaart. “The guys who were out on the field on these are still around. I think that’s what sparks the interest. They all remember putting in hours and hours and hours on that tractor.”

The 5020, built in the late 1960s, was probably the largest two-wheel drive tractor pre-four wheel drive, Lievaart said.

“Just before four-wheel drives came into existence this is what would have been on a lot of family farms. A lot of large farmers had those. It pulled like a 21-foot deep tillage cultivator. That’s what farmed a lot of acres in Western Canada.”

The John Deere 5020 tractor owned by Justin Lievaart and Adriaan Lievaart of Estevan, Sask., was one of the stars of the antique vehicle show at the 2018 Farm Progress antique tractor and truck show in Regina. Shop worker Brad VanSevenat helped to restore the tractor. | Brian MacLeod photo

The Lievaarts bought the tractor last summer, and set about restoring it with their shop worker, Brad VanSevenat. It took about five months to complete.

“We brought this into the shop and we said this is going to be a filler job for us because we do a lot of our own shop work, and we do our own in-house repairs on combines and tractors. When we needed a little extra something to do we would work on that.… We took it all apart and before you knew it we had a paint booth set up in our shop and we were painting parts and the whole thing led to a complete restoration.”

Another curiosity at the antique car show was a 1953 combine owned by retired Disley, Sask., farmer Barry Weisbrod. It was in use by its original family until 1975. It sat idle until 1998, when Weisbrod bought it and restored it with the help of almost two dozen businesses.

It took a year and a half to get it completed, said Weisbrod.

“They won’t let me go in the (antique vehicle) parade, it’s too wide. This is about the only time it gets started.”

But when he gets the big red machine with the yellow header fired up, the reaction is interesting.

“They can’t believe it when I start it up, how smooth it runs,” said Weisbrod.

Barry Olson’s bright orange 1941 Case, which was once a “parts tractor,” also attracted a lot of attention.

“I discovered it in a barn,” said Olson, who farmed near the Riverhurst area but now lives in Moose Jaw. His father and two brothers bought it new in 1942.

“It was in the family the whole time.”

The tractor was only made for two years in 1940-41, Olson said. The Second World War made it difficult to get parts, so Case made tractors from whatever parts they could get. The engine parts came from Massey and the parts for the transmission came out of a forklift.

“It used to take kids to school in the wintertime. Dad would take my older sisters six miles over to the school and back. Pull a sled along and get bundled up. The roads were always lower than the ditches at that time, but you could go through the fields.”

A trio of brothers also brought a trio of tractors to the show. Tim, Chris and Phil Mickleborough from Regina showcased a 1948 Oliver 88, a 1953 Oliver 99 and a 1940 Oliver 99.

While the three tractors were all complete when they started working on them — no extra parts were needed — they took more than a year to fix up.

“Old 99 is a little bit of a brute to steer,” Tim said, “but when she rolls it’s pretty easy steering.

The 1940 Oliver 99 was in the family the whole time, he said.

“I learned on that when I was eight or nine years old hanging on that thing to start to operate it. It’s been in our immediate family forever,” said Tim.

Mitz Petz from Francis, Sask., brought her 1955 Allis-Chalmers Model G to the show.

“Its purchase price in 1953 was $934,” Petz said. “My husband (Karl) found it in an auction sale in Manitoba (in 2004). When he saw that, he said, ‘I’m bringing one home.’ We paid $4,200 for it.”

The reaction from onlookers is a bit different than the reactions the other tractors draw.

“(People say), ‘it’s so cute.’ It’s kind of unique with the motor in the back.”

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