Antique Tractors Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
One Ugly Oliver!

Picture taken March 5, 2005 right after the old Oliver was started up and backed out of the barn for the first time in 7 years.


The old Oliver belonged to a good family friend, Wilbur Ashcraft, who owned a large farm outside of Brandenburg, KY and gave me summer work while I was in high school. Even in the late 1960's it was one ugly tractor. It was actually a composite of two tractors as its original frame had broken. It had been rolled over and the hood had been beaten back out with the round end of a ball-peen hammer and by then was almost devoid of all paint. My boss kept her in excellent mechanical condition but wouldn't spend a dollar for a can of spray paint, so she always looked like she was ready for the junk yard even though she ran like new.

While there were always 7 or 8 tractors on the farm at any given time, the old Oliver 88 RC was the central working tractor on the farm. I plowed with it, disked with it, planted corn and silage sorghum with it, cleaned barns with it, hauled tobacco with it, picked corn with it and probably chopped several thousand tons of sileage with it among other chores. It was the first multi-cylinder engine that I ever rebuilt. We put thin walled sleeves and oversize pistons in it so it could pull a larger sileage chopper. After the rebuild, I entered it in and took 4th place overall in the first tractor pull that the Meade Co. (KY) Fair ever held. Although she performed wonderfully, I was rather ashamed of her tattered looks while pulling against the other gleaming machines that were in attendance.

While she was the sorryest looking tractor you'd ever seen, she could always be counted upon to get the work done. The only time I can remember that the old tractor wouldn't go was when she had a flat rear tire. What she lacked in looks she certainly made up for in heart.

I went away to college and the old Oliver and I parted ways. While I would occasionally go back to the farm to visit, I never again ran the old tractor, although I'd occasionally walk out to the barn to pay her a visit.

Over the years, all the other tractors were traded or sold away but somehow the ugly old Oliver managed to stay as the central working tractor on the farm. She held this role until 1998 when she was again completely rebuilt. She was started up in the shop after her rebuild and driven to her usual storage location in the barn and was parked. Unfortunately, my dear friend was seriously injured in an accident with another tractor and the old Oliver was never started again.

Life had taken me a different direction and I'd just passed my 30th anniversary in my own business as a computer/network technician. I now live in a subdivision and haven't had the pleasure of farming for a number of years. We attended the 85th birthday party of my good friend in February of 2005 and he mentioned that he still had the old Oliver and wanted to sell it. He named a price that was most affordable but what in the world was I going to do with a row crop Oliver in a subdivision? Furthermore, how could I convince my wife of the need for such a beast? Fortunately, she loves old hardware as much as I do and let me buy my old friend. We traveled back to Meade Co. in March with a new battery and 5 gallons of gas. Although she hadn't run since 1998 sitting dormant for almost seven years, the old gal showed that she still had her old heart and started right up. We loaded her on the trailer and started the journey home. While I was happy to have her, I have to admit that I was a little sad to be hauling her away from the farm that she had worked for over half a century. We unloaded her in the driveway and quickly hid her under a tarp so that the neighbors wouldn't see what a thing of beauty I had brought home!

There was one humerous moment. I have a New Holland LS 55 lawn tractor with a 19 hp V2 Kohler that my wife calls my 'yard Harley' since it idles with a lope like a Harley motorcycle. My neighbor around the corner like the sound of it and traded his one-cylinder John Deere in for a two-cylinder JD that had a 20 hp V2 in it which he kidded me about since it had one more horsepower than my New Holland. After bringing the Oliver home, I knocked on his door and told his wife to tell him that he no longer had the largest riding mower in the subdivision. When she asked what I had gotten, I told her to just have her husband look down in my driveway under the tarp!

She's now all fixed up and has been to a couple of shows and tractor rides and seems to be real happy with her retirement. My good friend passed away in September 2009 and his wife passed away just 6 days later so they're happy together in the Lord's green pastures. He had been very active with the Kentucky Farm Bureau and the old Oliver went back to Meade Co. for a visit the summer of 2010 where it pulled the KY Farm Bureau float in the Meade Co. Fair parade in memory of such a wonderful family who had given so much to the community.

When I'm having a bad day, all I have to do is go out and look at the old Oliver and remember those simpler days working on the farm and it brings back such warm, happy feelings.

Bill Johnson, Lexington, KY

How she looks now.


Wilbur Ashcraft and myself talking over old times on January 8, 2006 when the old Oliver went home for a visit.


After reading gordon1121's post, I thought I'd add this picture of Wilbur that was take January 8, 2006 the moment he first saw his old Oliver all fixed up. His wonderful wife Evelyn is standing to the left.:


Here's the sign out in front of the Meade. Co. (KY) Farm Bureau. Wilbur passed away on September, 15 2009 and his loving wife Evelyn followed him six days later on September 21, 2009:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
63 Posts
Great looking unit
Nice to hear a history
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Joe, those pictures where taken at the farm. The first picture was taken right after it was backed out of the barn (note the flat front tire and the wet spots where it had been settling into the dirt floor) and the second picture was taken about 8 months later when I took it back for a visit to let Wilbur see his old tractor all fixed up. I thought it would be fun to pose the restored tractor in the same spot as the original picture.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,970 Posts
Really enjoyed reading the history that went with with your tractor. The look on MR. Ashcraft's face says it all about how proud he was of what you did to the tractor and the look on yours shows that it was worth it. I live just south of you in Berea if you are going to any shows around this year please let me know I would enjoy meeting you and talk about the tractor for awhile.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
4,109 Posts
That Oliver, Mr. Ashcraft, and his farm, a few miles down the road, I remember from my youth.
Bill, I never had the pleasure to meet, until we both frequented this forum, as he is several years my senior,
and off to seek his fortune, before I was with driver's license and running around the county. ;)
That's the first tractor I knew the history of, going from an old beat up farm helper, to a shinny restored beauty.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
BigDaveinKY said:
That Oliver, Mr. Ashcraft, and his farm, a few miles down the road, I remember from my youth.
Bill, I never had the pleasure to meet, until we both frequented this forum, as he is several years my senior,
and off to seek his fortune, before I was with driver's license and running around the county. ;)
That's the first tractor I knew the history of, going from an old beat up farm helper, to a shinny restored beauty.
Dave, we actually know it's entire history. It was sold new from McGehee's Farm Service in Brandenburg about 1950 to a logging operation near Wolf Creek, KY in Meade Co. who used it for logging for 3 years and that's where a lot of the sheet metal got banged up. It then ended up back at McGehee's where it was refurbished under an Oliver program that allowed them to resell it with a new tractor warranty. Wilbur bought the tractor from McGehee's because of the reduced price and new tractor warranty. He got it home and immediately had problems with it wanting to stall out when being worked. They couldn't find any problem with the carburetor or the fuel supply but the intermittent stalling kept happening. Finally, he found that a piece of pencil was floating around in the fuel line. Once he pulled the pencil out, the tractor ran fine.

Wilbur did quite a bit of contract silo filling so that old Oliver has run many miles around the roads in Meade, Breckenridge and Hardin Counties. The last time I ever operated the Oliver while in his employ was in August of 1971 when I took the Oliver, New Holland chopper, two silage wagons and a blower from his place on Battletown Rd. to a farm near Rineyville. He gave me a ride home and I went off to college and that was the last time I ran the old Oliver until I bought it almost 36 years later in March 2005.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
4,109 Posts
Thanks for that Bill. Neat to know the rest of the tractor's history.
I was 12 in August of '71. Goes to say why we never ran the same circles. ;)
I remember seeing that tractor out on the roads as a kid,
thinking "how does that old tractor get him where he's going?" :?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,020 Posts
I certainly enjoyed re-reading the story. I didn't remember all the details, but the tractor before and after pictures I did not forget. Great story, great tractor. Thank you, sir.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
BigDaveinKY said:
I remember seeing that tractor out on the roads as a kid,
thinking "how does that old tractor get him where he's going?" :?
Dave, he actually kept his equipment in top notch operating shape but he wouldn't spend a dime on anything cosmetic so it looked like junk but always worked reliably and worked hard. Every winter, any equipment that needed attention was repaired or overhauled to have it ready for the next farming season. He was a very conservative but highly intelligent person and a really productive farmer.

Both he and Evelyn were very active in the Brandenburg United Methodist Church for many decades.

The night I brought the old Oliver home, we started it up to unload it and Jane still comments on how quiet it ran and how good it sounded despite its beat-up and tattered appearance.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
337 Posts
That story really hits home, though I can't relate to the amount of time that passed through it - it's very touching. Very glad that you got it back to a shape that Dad and I call "better than new." :)
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
1,552 Posts
A nice looking tractor now. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
279 Posts
If you look at the before photo , the engine looks nice, the exhaust manifold is clean no evidence of leaks, it just looks mechanicaly sound, Many perfectionists won't start body work until they are ready to make it perfect
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Loved reading that bud, wish my grandpa could see my 45 when I'm done with it.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top