Gas Engine Magazine

OLIVER 99

By Staff

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.

  • Published on Mar 1, 1987
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