Pioneer 30-60 Pioneer Gets a New Lease on Life

| March/April 2002

Pioneer 30-60

The Pioneer 30-60 photographed during the building of Highway 63 in Missouri, around 1915.

In February 2000 my good friend and fellow tractor collector Dennis Powers of Boone, Iowa, called to tell me about a Pioneer tractor that was for sale. Dennis knew I had tried to buy a Pioneer twice before, both times getting outbid in the buying process. I had finally come to peace with the idea that I would never own a Pioneer tractor, but here was Dennis calling me with a lead on another Pioneer.

The truth is I'm getting older, and I wasn't sure if I wanted another big project - I actually almost dreaded going to look at the tractor. Undoubtedly it would be a big expense, and I didn't know if I wanted to suffer through the process of not only coming up with the money, but also exerting the work necessary to restore another big tractor. Dennis gave me a phone number for Fred Nolan in Jerseyville, Ill., and looking at a map I decided to at least go look at the tractor, as it was only 500 miles from my home in Goessel, Kan.

I called Fred, and he told me that if I wanted the tractor I'd better get up there right away, because an ad was coming out in GEM the next week. Come 5 a.m. the next day I left home, and by mid-afternoon I was at Fred's place looking the old Pioneer over.

As Found

The last time the tractor had been run was in the mid-1930s, and it had spent all but the last 15 years outdoors. I was impressed at how complete the tractor was, with all the little parts that are usually missing still intact. But I was also very conscious of the forlorn look the years out in the elements had taken on the old tractor. I left Fred's and headed home, thinking to myself I really didn't want that large of a project anymore. I got home about midnight and my wife, Leann, was up. 'Well, did you buy it?' she asked. 'No,' I told her, 'I didn't.' She was surprised and asked me why not? 'I'm not sure that I want to buy all that work,' I said. 'You don't have to restore it,' she replied, 'you can always have it in our collection without restoring it.' The next day I got on the phone with Fred and consummated the deal.

Our good friend Steve Sabo, who owns Target Transport in Middlebury, Ind., hauled the tractor from Illinois to Kansas in July 2000. In the process I had also acquired a circa 1917 Minneapolis 35/70 located in Minnesota, so Steve hauled that along with the Pioneer.

We were deep into the summer months and going to shows, so we finished up the projects we were working on before starting to tackle the Pioneer. I started taking the Pioneer apart Oct. 1, 2000, and I tried to work on it every day until it was completed - Aug. 5, 2001, just in time for our local show, Country Threshing Days, held in Goessel, Kan.