Friends Working Together in Princeton, Minnesota

Al Wilhelm Special Mower

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28625 143rd Street Zimmerman, Minnesota 55398

This all started about five years ago when my son Bob and grandson Alan Wilhelm of Deer River, Minnesota, my wife Lorraine and I all went on a trip to the state of Maryland to visit my son Ray Wilhelm and his wife Beverly. The four of us went in my Ford van and while we were there, we went to Ray's garage to see his equipment and a Wheel Horse lawn mower.

Ray said the engine was bad. I asked Ray what he was going to do with the lawn mower and he asked, 'Do you want it?' 'Yes, yes, yes, yes, I'll take it.' Of course my son Bob questioned how I was going to get it to Minnesota. 'Buy a trailer,' says I. 'What are you going to do with the trailer when you get home?' 'Sell it.' So after all objections were overruled by the senior member of the group (me), we bought a trailer, and the grandsons helped load it and we took off for Minnesota.

Once home, I told my morning coffee group about my wonderful find. The number of people who have wanted to help me was staggering.

Since I have been interested in tractors all my life buying, selling and collecting this was an exciting project. Since I have moved to a lake home, I have had to 'sell down.' With my space limited, I have to be selective when buying!

My nephew Dan Wilhelm of Monticello, who is also a collector of antique tractors, wanted to get in the act. He and his boys put in a new engine and painted the Wheel Horse red. We called it the 'Al Wilhelm Special.' I used it this way in parades for community events for four years.

Then we decided to redesign the tractor. Richard, Roger and Lyle Anderson of Anderson Inc., thought I should have a small Oliver tractor. Fred, father of Lyle, and Lyle were dealers and owned Oliver Implement for years. (The company now is called Anderson, Inc., dealers of Heavy Equipment.) So friend Jerry Anderson designed a hood like a 60 Oliver. Richard painted the Oliver colors and Lowell Yahanke named it 'Little Oli #59S.' Bill Nichols, a retired welder, and Kermit Irwin, a retired engineer, made the belt pulley and the buzz saw for it. It works beautifully. Last year was the first year Little Oli drove in parades. I have driven it in many local parades and tractor shows. Since I am a retired sheriff of Mille Lacs County, the D.A.R.E. drug program has been a passion of mine. One of the ways in which we got our message across was to participate in local community events, such as festivals and parades. I have had no trouble finding sponsors for this activity. Sponsors included several sheriffs, the D.A.R.E. drug program, Moose, Princeton Bank, etc.

Shown in the picture with Little Oli is Michael Schendel, great-grandson of Al Wilhelm.