1713 E. Walnut Enid, Oklahoma 73701
The story of this tractor, serial no. 513141, started in Charles City, Iowa in 1947 as told to me by W. E. Neal, a kindly gentleman of the Cedar Valley Engine Club, Charles City, Iowa. This tractor was shipped to California as told by the seller, a hotel manager. My dad, J. S. 'Hap' Vogt, bought this tractor on the black market in November 1947 from the hotel manager in Hennessey, Oklahoma for $3620.
I was 3 years old when my parents took me with them to bring the tractor home. It was about a 30 mile drive for my dad to get it to our farm northeast of Enid, Oklahoma where it stayed until 1972. It was then kept on other land that my dad had rented until his final auction in 1979. I took an interest in the old Oliver for restoration so my dad gave it to me in 1979.
My dad was rather proud of the tractor all the time he had it. The only complaint about it was the hard worm-gear steering. I myself grew up around the tractor and the steering was especially hard when I started driving it around the age of 12. A propane system was installed about 1958 and run rather economically with the routine valve jobs, overhauls, tires, and water pump kits during its working life. Most of the farming was done with the 99 until 1960 when a John Deere R was purchased to help, as we had doubled our acreage at that time.
In the summer of 1961 the 99 got its nickname. It all started in the far end of our 80 acre field with a broken rear axle on the John Deere R. In getting it repaired, a man by the name of Jack Harp brought his truck from the local dealer to haul it in. In loading, the rear wheels of the truck had to be dug down. When loaded and ready to pull out, my dad said he would get Ollie to help pull out. This so amused Jack Harp that the name 'Ollie' stuck ever since.
Continued use was made of the 99 until 1973 when it was a second tractor from then on. The acreage was cut and it was used only for times when another driver was available. My dad thought of it as a one man tractor and he drove it when used.
Restoration was started in 1979 with removal of the propane equipment and installation of the original gasoline system. The head was removed for overhaul finding two bad valves and valve guides and seats for all exhaust valves. Also, manifold surfaces had to be faced off. The manifold gasket had been burnt out for some years and the surfaces of head and manifold were rusted away. At this time I did minor repair and painted the front half, planning to do the rest later. Later came some five years later. In the meantime I learned the color I had mixed up was too light a green.
In 1984 I got serious with the project and started in earnest to finish. I started this time by replacing the steering gear with a Saginaw unit I took off a junker out of a local tractor salvage. This gear was a modification available for the 99 but my dad said $75 was a lot of money at that time. The steering gear needed minor repair like pitman shaft seals and top shaft bearing which I made myself. It worked great. The gears themselves are worn badly but where do I get good ones? 1985 started with the seat, which was in sad shape and turned into a major job. After the seat came the rear sheet metal which was beat up, busted and rusted. Those who have worked on fenders like these know what a job I had. What was really bad was the old battery box. Located on the rear platform it had rusted out and was discarded years ago. The battery box took with it the fender, dust shield and platform and involved many hours to repair. It all looks like new now. The drawbar followed, as it was badly worn. I made a new bar itself and replaced all worn areas on the swivel piece. The worn areas were cut out with a torch and new steel plate welded back in. Also, worn holes and pins were replaced or built up with a welder.
The spring of 1986 came and it was time to get back to the job. Most repair work has now been done and a new battery box was built during the winter. White Farm Equipment was good enough to furnish copies of original drawings for the battery box parts. The engine was now removed and stripped of accessories and sheet metal parts for cleaning and after sandblasting, replacement of leaking gaskets and seals. The engine was then painted and installed into a sandblasted and painted frame. It was here I made a mistake. After the engine was installed and bolted down, I discovered the pressure plate release springs still laying on the bench. After a couple of hours of pulling the engine partially out to install springs and re-installing engine, I was ready to push on. The carburetor, starter, generator, magneto and manifold were sanded and overhauled before painting and later installation. Also, all metal labels were bead blasted and painted. With finishing touches of front axle assembly and sheet metal, the back half got its due course. At this time the rear end and transmission covers were removed and old oil drained and the system flushed. The oil was original from 1947 and was never added to during its years of use. The only repair here was new bearing cups on the bull pinion and gaskets. I am old fashioned; I still cut and use gaskets where I can. After filling with 12 gallons of new oil and installing the covers, I started on the rear wheels. They were removed and new seals were installed as well as shims removed to take up wear.
With all parts now being sanded by hand or sandblasting, primed and two coats of acrylic enamel sprayed on, it was ready for final assembly. After assembly, a lot of touch-up work was done and decals were applied. The tractor was in running order the night before the first Mid America Summerfest show we had at Woodring airport here at Enid in August of 1986. It is now 99% complete and it looks better than it did when new. The electrical system works again after some 18 years and the PTO runs again after 28 years. Everything is straight and true with no rust and a paint job that shines like a new car; also, there is all new rubber. My dad is so proud of it he is telling nearly everyone about the old Oliver 99 he bought new in 1947 and used so many years. This brings to date the brief history and restoration of an Oliver 99. I hope some readers have enjoyed it.
My next tractor to restore is a 1938 English Fordson which will get a very similar treatment as the 99. I also have a 1924 Fordson, 1938 W-30 McCormick Deering and a 1939 John Deere D to be restored. I enjoy working on these old tractors getting them to look and run like new again and show the modern day people an example of farm power of this time span.