Sell Museum's Rare Swedish Tractor

Swedish Tractor

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The Booker News Submitted by Dan Sell Box 227 Booker, Texas 79005

When Dan Sell held his third annual open house at the Sell Homestead Museum, Saturday, May 20, he unveiled one of the most unusual and rare tractors remaining in the world-an Avance.

No more than 500 of the two-cylinder, two-cycle tractors were built by the Avance Company in Sweden back in a period from 1925-32 and probably less than a dozen remain in existence today. Sell obtained his from a farmer in North Dakota who had purchased it in Canada and farmed with it for several years before storing it back in the corner of a barn.

Sell travels all over the country looking for rare, old farm machinery and had stopped at this particular farm to look at something else when the farmer said, 'there's one back there that's a little different.'

Sell could hardly restrain his enthusiasm when he saw the old Avance and immediately asked if it was for sale and bought it.

He wasn't exactly sure what he had until he contacted P. G. Fagerberg at Skivarp, Sweden, another antique machinery collector.

Fagerberg informed Sell that he was amazed to hear that a two-cylinder Avance was found in the United States since it is considered an unusual tractor even in Sweden.

'There are only five known survivors of the two-cylinder Avance here in Sweden, one in Australia and now yours, so it is quite rare as you understand,' said Fagerberg. He added that the two-cylinder model was introduced around 1925 and the last one built around 1932 with not more than 500 being built.

Changes were made in 1928 because of some troubles with the crankshafts on the first model, Fagerberg said. The later model had an extra mainbearing after the flywheel and also mud guards for the rear wheels.

'So it seems to me as if your engine belongs to the later series,' Fagerberg wrote to Sell. He also sent along a sales catalog and an instruction manual for the tractor, noting they were both in Swedish and probably would keep Dan occupied for a while:

'I can always translate some parts of it if you wish, but please don't ask me to translate all of it,' he said, adding some humor with the comment, 'I hope you can use my information inspite of my not so good English. On the other hand, of course, my English is probably better than your Swedish, but then again, who needs Swedish outside Sweden?'

Fagerberg also gave a short history of the Avance company, noting that its founder, J. V. Svensson, started to make two-stroke, hot bulb engines in 1900 in a large new factory just outside Stockholm after visiting the U. S. and bringing back two Mitz & Weiss engines he developed with water injection, etc. 'In that way, one can say Avance, from the start, was an American engine,' he said.

Sell said the only thing he had to do to get his Avance in running condition was patch the fuel tank. Lambert Dahlstem of Lindsborg, Kansas, is translating the instructions on the parts manual for Sell.

Besides the Avance, Sell has a large collection of antique tractors and cars dating from 1913, plus stationary engines, farm machinery and other old farm household and farmstead items from the 30's, etc.

'There are a lot of things to see and it is an educational experience for the younger generation,' he said. The museum is located one and one-half miles north of Booker on SH 23 and then one-half mile west.

This is the only scheduled time each year that Sell has the museum open to the public, but he is usually available to take interested groups or individuals on a tour of his collection if they will let him know in advance.

His brother, Donald Sell, also has a huge collection of tractors and other machinery and they both have them on display each fall at the Golden Spread Antique Machinery Show at Sell's ranch southwest of Booker. Show dates: Saturday and Sunday, September 16 and 17, 1989. Held on the Donald Sell Farm, Perryton, Texas. Located 10 miles east of Perryton on FM 377 and 5 south on FM 2711; or 5 south of Booker, Texas, on SH 23, 6 west on FM 377 and 5 south on FM 2711.