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by Phil Schneider
My own story revolves around an ad that I found in the Garden Tractor section of the local trader paper. The tractor should have been listed in the ag section but somehow it was not. I am in Avon, Indiana and the tractor was down by Poland, Indiana.
I decided to call about the tractor, a 1948 UTU. On that phone call, I talked to a gentleman named Marion Jordan. Seems Mr. Jordan had bought the tractor from his neighbors to do some bush-hogging around his farm. However, he never got around to using the tractor. It just sat for a few years out beside his barn. I decided that I would go and take a look at it. I always wanted a Minnie so off I went.
After winding my way around on these little narrow country roads - roads that would prove almost to small for the truck I was using to pick up the tractor if I were to buy it. - I finally arrived at this old man's house. I drove up the drive and knocked on his door. I was met by the nicest old man that I think I have met in a long time. He explained that the tractor was out back next to the barn and that I could go on back. He said he would have to drive his pick-up around there as he can't quite walk that far.
I then proceeded to go out towards the barns. When I got around the main barn, I did not see any tractor. I thought that I must be looking in the wrong place. A couple of minutes later Mr. Jordan drove up. I asked. "where's the tractor?" He pointed to an area about 100 feet away and said, "right in there". "Okay" was my reply. I then proceeded to wade my way in to the thickest bunch of "bamboo grass" that I had ever been into - even as a kid!.(we used to make forts out of this stuff!)
Nestled within the tall weeds was the "reddest" looking Minneapolis Moline tractor I had ever seen. For a minute, I thought I was seeing a Farmall! (It turns out that, Mr. Jordan's neighbors were "Farmall Men" to the core. However, the MM was a relatives tractor that had been given to them. - They couldn't turn the tractor away - but they sure could paint it!) I had my doubts that the thing would even run. Mr. Jordan assured me that it would with a little gas and a battery. I checked all of the fluids - it had oil - if you could call it oil. There was water in the radiator. Mr. Jordan had me get a can of gas out of his pick-up and a battery. I poured the gas in and hooked up the battery. He proceeded to climb on the old girl. With a couple of squirts of starting fluid, some choke applied, he hit the starter button and the old tractor started right up! ( with a flurry of wasps and parts of wasps nests coming out from everywhere!)
After everything had calmed down somewhat, I was able to take the tractor out for a drive around his pasture. It seemed to run okay and drive alright. It did not have any brakes though. (The lack of brakes made for an interesting time later on that morning.)
I made him an offer he accepted and now I was the proud owner of this fine MM tractor. Loading the tractor onto the truck was not easy. The worst part was when the old girl decided to "quit" running as I was halfway up the ramps. (The tractor had been running for almost an hour - it had plenty of gas in it still.) I then found myself "inching" backwards down the ramps with no brakes and I was afraid to release the clutch. Some quick thinking on the part of my brother kept me from going sailing off the back of the truck. After getting the tractor re-started, I got it loaded and took it home. Today, it is completely restored in the proper colors. It runs excellent and has needed only some minor tweaking.
When we were loading the tractor, the original owners stopped by and spent a few moments talking with us. It turned out that the father-in-law had owned the tractor. The neighbors that Marion had bought it from just used the tractor to bale hay. I was told that the old girl was "hell" on a baler when it "balled" up from getting to much hay fed into it. I was told that it had torn up alot of PTO shafts over the seasons! Well, that is my tractor story. The other tractors that I have in my collection do not have as colorful beginnings in ownership for me. They are all good tractors though.