A Man of the Cloth

| July/August 2002

Mike Kolb at the wheel of his scale Rumely OilPull that he and his sons built from scratch. Mike cast the flywheel and fabricated the block, which used pistons and sleeves from a Case tractor.

Mike Kolb, affectionately known as Father Kolb, grew up in the 1920s surrounded by Advances, Fordsons and Rumelys. Perhaps as a teenager he worked on a threshing crew using a steam engine, a grain separator and a stationary baler. It is not hard to understand why Mike's love for antique iron grew as he matured.

Mike's first restoration project was motivated by necessity. In the 1940s, Mike tried his hand at farming. To save money, he restored a Case tractor that had been severely damaged by fire. Mike soon discovered that his true calling did not involve the soil, but rather the iron that tilled the soil. In response to this discovery, he opened his own shop repairing motors, machinery and everything in between.

In 1944 Father Kolb and his wife, Lois, affectionately known as Mother Superior, were married, and together they raised three sons and two daughters. As his sons grew up, Mike shared his love of antique iron with them. They spent many hours in the family-owned business, yet still found time to restore several show tractors. Among his restorations were a 1948 Allis-Chalmers B, an 8N Ford, a 1939 John Deere H, a 1949 Case Model S, a 1929 10-20 McCormick-Deering, a 1952 John Deere R and a 1939 Case CH high clearance tractor. Mike poured his heart and soul into one particular tractor - a 1920 10-20 Titan.

Although Mike loved to restore tractors, he also loved to create use-able tools from discarded junk. This skill resulted in the evolution of the Dynamite 365, of which his son, Mike Jr., says; 'Dad gave the tractor this pet name because it took a year to build it, and he often threatened to blow it up when it would not run.'

While admiring his latest creation, Father Kolb said, 'Ah, it is good; however, it needs a mate.' Thus, a 5/12-scale, fully operational 22-inch Case threshing machine was created. It was built exactly like the full-size models down to the smallest detail. 'A threshing machine is not authentic without belt power,' Father Kolb said, and thus, Mike and his sons set out to build an OilPull.