The rare Friday tractor, betore Jim painted it red.
R.R.#1,Box 69 Minonk, Illinois 61760
Here is an interesting story told to me by a fellow exhibitor at the Central States Thresher men's Reunion in Pontiac, Illinois. Jim Bolliger of Chillicothe, Illinois, is a collector and restorer of antique tractors who plans to be at Pontiac, September 2-6, for to exhibit his Farm crest and Friday tractors.
'It seems that sometimes I do not get things done, so I'm writing to you right away. If I wrote all the things that have happened the last couple of years in my searching for a tractor and hunting for parts, working them into one book, it would be too big to carry!
'To start, I will tell you a story that's actually very hard to believe. After I had finished restoring the Farmcrest about two months ago, I was slowly going through my book, the one by Charles Wendel called The Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors. I came to the picture of the very different Friday orchard tractor. Even though it was a dark and not very plain picture, I decided I wanted one. The next day I wrote a letter to a friend and auctioneer who hunts old tractors and has big sales at times at Aledo, Illinois. I told him Fridays were made in Michigan and asked him to find one for me. The very next day a friend and I were in the local town here and I said, 'Let's stop at a restaurant,' but he didn't want to. I said, 'OK, but I must buy groceries.'
'As we neared a fast food place my friend said he would buy there, so in we went. Sitting there smoking was a good neighbor of mine who was big on truck farming. He asked if I had ever heard of a Friday tractor and said that he had just seen one near the factory in Michigan and it was for sale. He wanted to go back to Michigan to buy planters, so we agreed to go in my car the next day. Suddenly he said he could not ride with me, as I had a 'No Smoking' sign in my car. I was angry, so I just walked out.
'Next, in the grocery store, I decided to go back to the restaurant. He was still there drinking coffee. I told him I wanted the Friday tractor and would stop often on the trip at gas stations so he could smoke.
'After a fast road test the next day in Michigan, I bought the tractor. My friend did not even smoke much that day. He bought some planters for gardeners. We also went to the factory and met the late Mr. Friday's son and grandson and took a lot of pictures. It is my opinion the tractor will be very rare. The headlights on the tractor are pushed in those big holes to work around orchard trees.
'Another strange thing is that I did not know it was on the front cover of Successful Farming until the factory man showed me. Already some collectors who buy and sell were out scouting the farms and buying what they could. My tractor was a one-owner tractor whose owner had died and whose son sold it. It has a small dozer blade, too. A sales bulletin states that the tractor can reach 3214 mph, but also says the tractor has been clocked at 55 mph.
'My uncle was an Oliver dealer in Morton and we used several Olivers to farm and run a saw mill. Below is a picture of my Gambles Farm crest built by the Cockshutt Company in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. I think it is unusual also. You would go to a Gamble hardware store to order it and get it off of a railroad flat car. It has 'creeper gears' or two speed. This gives eight forward and two in reverse. I am making a book of available parts for these odd tractors new carburetor kits, hoses, points, etc.'
I met Jim by phone when calling about the Pontiac Threshermens' Reunion and was delighted to hear of his unusual Friday tractor. Thanks, Jim for allowing me to share the story.