Tulsa Collector

By Staff
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Ralph Ekhoff and one of his John Deere tractors.
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Mobile home dealer Ralph Ekhoff is a tractor collector  who
lives at 3629 S. 85th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74145.

The following article is adapted from one by Nick Foltz which
appeared in the September 23, 1984 edition of Tulsa World.

Ralph Ekhoff has five acres of land and 57 tractors. He figures
that’s enough land, but he’d like some more tractors.

Ekhoff is shattering custom-instead of using the tractors to
help grow things on the land, he is using the land as a place to
let his tractor collection grow.

As a teenager, Ekhoff drove an old Hart-Parr tractor and helped
his father with wheat, corn and oat crops on the family farm near
Anthony, Kansas. He learned how to make minor repairs and developed
a fondness for husky work machines.

Now 72, Ekhoff spends much of his spare time restoring tractors
for his ‘tractor farm’ south of Tulsa.

Ekhoff often spotted prospective additions for his collection as
he drove down remote country roads making mobile home deliveries.
‘These old tractors usually are set back somewhere with
sunflowers growing around them. Of course, after you find one, you
have to bargain over a price.’

Purchases, he says, are more easily accomplished and cheaper
than the restoration process. ‘I order parts through dealers,
and sometimes one part costs more than the original price of the
whole tractor.’

Each of the tractors has its separate set of memories and a
story about how Ekhoff obtained it. His collection includes
International Harvester, Allis Chalmers, Case and numerous John
Deeres.

The collector admits his hobby at times becomes addictive.
‘I will buy anything that is old, if the price is
right.’

His most valuable possession is a John Deere Model D,
manufactured in 1929.

One of his favorite stories has a ‘Dear John’ theme
about a John Deere tractor, at least for the previous owner.
‘He told me it was in good running condition, but the engine
wouldn’t start. He wanted $350, so I offered him $250 on the
idea I would have to spend money fixing it. When I got it to the
shop, I found out what was wrong. He had hooked up the battery
backwards.’

Near Fort Worth, Texas, an obviously wealthy farmer made an
unusual proposition. ‘He had this clean, slick tractor, and he
said he would sell it for only $200 on the condition that I would
also haul away a bunch of farm iron.

‘That’s an expression for metal parts that pile up
around a farm. Well, his farm iron pile was so big it looked like
it stretched two miles. It took three big trucks to haul it
off.’

Ekhof’s tractors are restored and painted their original
colors after rust is removed. Surprisingly, major mechanical
repairs are rare. ‘Sometimes all they need is some gasoline in
the tank,’ says Ekhoff.

When the tractors are restored to showroom condition, they are
placed inside a building. Ekhoff has never sold one of his
tractors, although he has done some trading. He intends to make the
collection bigger, not smaller.

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