That Old Oliver

The Oliver Tractor

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5-1291-18 Wauseon, Ohio 43567  

The owner said, 'Yes, I'll sell all three for a price, but I should tell you that old Oliver over there under that tree has water in the oil and a cracked block from hard water (frozen). It isn't worth much.'

So I went home, kind a talked to my wife, Nancy, about the tractors, then went to see my banker (Dad). My dad was a salesman for an IH dealership back in the '50s, and he likes talking tractors. He started a new IH dealership in 1966 in Archbold, Ohio, which he managed until 1974. He officially retired in 1987. The IH dealership that Dad worked at in the '50s and early '60s sold Olds mobiles also, so we always had an Olds around. Five years ago we found a 1955 98 Olds that we bought together.

Anyway, we went back to look at the tractors. There was a 1938 F-14 that was nice. It had been painted a few years back and taken to a show. The seller also had a 1936 IHC 10-20, all there, with straight hoods and nice tin work, but that old Oliver caught my eye.

When we walked around that rusty old girl, I knew I had to own it (like a lot of things I see). The brass plate on the engine said 18-27 Standard Row Crop Oliver Hart Parr Serial #106706, a 1935 model. It had rear steel with rubber front tires. Later, I changed the rear to rubber also so that I could drive her in parades.

On the way home, Dad told me about the F-14 and 2N Ford that he and Mom farmed with when they got married back in '46, but that's its own story.

Dad said that he would lend me the money, so Nancy and I went back to get the tractors the next weekend. The former owner did say that the Oliver would run if you pulled it, but not to crank it because it would 'kill ya.'

Once home, we put the two Farm-alls in the corn crib, but the Oliver went in the shop. I drained the oil to see if I would get any antifreeze, but it looked like rain water. I changed the oil and cleaned the felt filter. We pulled it and she soon started. When she warmed up, the engine started to seep antifreeze around the block where it had been welded and the exhaust manifold was rusted out, but I never got antifreeze in the engine oil.

I did try to start it with the crank, and that fellow was right. She would kick like a mule, even with the spark retarded. So I figured I'd better get the mag in time. After that, she would start well with the crank. I then sent to Rosewood for a new manifold.

My son Ben, age 12, and daughters Laura, age 10, and Jenny, age 7, also helped Nancy and me work on it. We pulled the engine out and took it down. We repaired the block (the sleeves and pistons looked like new). We cleaned her up inside and out, did a valve job, and put it back together and painted it. We took it to the National Threshers Convention this year at Wauseon, Ohio, and had a lot of fun. Nancy is saying 'I'm glad we are done with it,' but all I can think is, 'I wonder how much Dad would lend me? The neighbor has a '37 John Deere A...'

I work at a John Deere dealership in Archbold, Ohio, as a mechanic. They all laughed at me, but we like the old Oliver!