Jim Meinhardt’s Tractor Museum

(Jim Shroyer) Good morning folks. Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host, and we’re in luck because we’re in Pottawatomie County, just on the east side of Wamego, Kansas. And you know, a lot of people collect things. They collect coins, they collect stamps. They collect baseball cards. But our next guest collects tractors, old tractors and lots of them. You’re going to want to see this. So hang around, we’ve got to take a break, and we’ll start this show when we get back.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

(Jim) Good morning folks. Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. We’re in luck because we’re in Wamego, Kansas and we’re speaking with Jim Meinhardt in his tractor museum. And Jim, you’ve got a bunch of tractors here, and there are some beauties. Before we start talking about individual tractors and some of your favorites, tell us a little bit on how you got started? (Jim Meinhardt) Well, I grew up in Paxico, Kansas, in the farmer who was in business with my dad, he started about 1953; I worked for him until about 1967, and then I moved to Wamego and started a dealership here. Been selling for almost 50 years. We started out with Allis-Chalmers, and took on New Holland and several other lines. That’s what we’ve been selling since, plus adding some other lines. (Jim S.) But when you first started, though, this dealership was a Minneapolis-Moline? (Jim M.) There’s actually Minneapolis-Moline tractors sitting on the lot, but we didn’t pick up that dealership. We started with, basically, Allis-Chalmers and New Holland. We started here, actually started in a small building with 5 people. Today we have 9 stores, and about 150 people. The antique deal kind of came on — a guy came in one day, and wanted to trade me a 1909 international truck on a small combine, I told him no. He came back, and I had finally gave in — that may have started the whole process. (Jim S.) Became an antique tractor junkie at that point; that was; you started with the hard stuff, a 1909. (Jim M.) Yeah, the 1909 truck. Since then most of the stuff we have here we’ve traded for. We have a bought a few items — bought some items from dealers, and also from farmers and it just kind of grew from there, got kind of stored everywhere. Now we finally built this building, and kind of had the dreams of having a museum. That’s what we do today. We have old machinery; hate to see it go to the salvage yard. We’re trying to save that image for the farmers of the past, in that we’re trying to preserve this equipment. We have a little bit of everything. The stuff inside our building, our museum, is, most of that’s not for sale, but we have equipment outside that we are, that is for sale. (Jim S.) Yes, well you’ve got a lot of tractors there. They all start? How do you maintain them? (Jim M.) Well, everything in the museum will run. It’ll take a little coaxing but – (Jim S.) I bet. (Jim M.) Yes, but everything did run when brought it in here. We try to keep those tractors up and cars, keep them so they’re up to shape. I have a guy who helps me full time inside and outside the building on different equipment. We just do the best we can in between everything else we do. (Jim S.) Well, some of these tractors here look like they just came off the factory floor, or maybe better than they came off the factory floor. I mean these are immaculate. (Jim M.) The paint jobs might be better than the factory job. We’re lucky to find a gentleman that would rebuild them for us. He’s done that for several years now. We just do one at a time, and keep fixing them up. (Jim S.) Oh, man. This is wonderful. Jim, we got to take away, hang on here. (Jim M.) Okay. (Jim S.) Folks don’t go away. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim S.) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, I’m Jim Shroyer and Jim Meinhardt here at Wamego, he is still with us. And Jim this is one of your first endeavors wasn’t it, the 1909 International? Tell us a little bit about it. (Jim M.) That’s correct. This is the one I had mentioned a guy came down and wanted to trade it to me. I told him no, didn’t really have enough money to buy or trade for it. He came back 30 days later and talked me into trading it. (Jim S.) Twisted your arm. (Jim M.) For a little combine. We’ve kept it shedded for all this time. Had it in parades. It runs good. And my youngest son actually drove it in a parade a few years ago. (Jim S.) Yes, I see it. I see a picture right here. Is that your–? (Jim M.) Yes, that’s my youngest son and his wife and little daughter. (Jim S.) Well, I bet that kind of everybody oohs and aahs about. (Jim M.) Yes. (Jim S.) I’ll be darned. (Jim M.) It supposedly hauled agricultural products from Hanover, Kansas to Lincoln, Nebraska. (Jim S.) I’ll be darned. (Jim M.) It’s got hard rubber tires and a little two-cylinder engine. So it’s kind of unique. (Jim S.) I’ll be darned. Well let’s go over here and talk about these Fords. (Jim M.) Okay. What we’ve done here is we are a Ford-New Holland dealer. And I always liked the little Ford tractors. So what we did is we found three different ones. One was a standard, one was a six-cylinder, one with a V-8 in it, the big one over there. And we rebuilt them. Everybody relates to a little Ford tractor, so. (Jim S.) Oh yes, I raked hay with these things. (Jim M.) Most people have. (Jim S.) Yes. (Jim M.) So we fixed those all and repainted them. And everybody likes to look at them. (Jim S.) So what’s the year on this one? (Jim M.) This one would be a ’52. (Jim S.) ’52? (Jim M.) Yes, one of the last ones made. (Jim S.) Boy, that’s a beauty. Okay. (Jim M.) And they all run and everything’s good on them. This is a six-cylinder here, actually a truck engine they put in him. The kit was actually made down in Southeast Kansas to do it. (Jim S.) Oh really? (Jim M.) Come in by the name of Funk, F-U-N-K I believe it is. And they still make attachments and transmissions. (Jim S.) People do that – oh to rebuild them or? (Jim M.) Well for the new tractors. And the next one is a Ford-Ferguson. It’s a V-8, and it’s the same way, it’s been retrofitted — the engine has. This tractor actually came from Colorado, and the guy that rebuilt it, had it for sale. This one we bought. (Jim S.) Okay, what year? So that’s a ’52, the six-cylinder what year was that? (Jim M.) That’s actually older. That would be probably about a ’47. And this one here is a Ford-Ferguson. I would say it’s probably early ‘50s also. (Jim S.) Okay. Well these are nice. These are nice. (Jim M.) So they all run and run good. (Jim S.) Okay. Well, what’s this little beauty over here? (Jim M.) Well, this is a La Salle 1940. It’s original, original paint. It’s got a flat head V-8 in it. I actually traded a boring bar, which is a piece of machine shop equipment given up from a guy. And it’s in excellent shape. And it’s just one of my favorites. (Jim S.) Okay. Jim we’ve got to take another break here. Folks, stay with us. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim S.) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. With us, we have Jim Meinhardt, in his tractor museum. Jim I’m looking around here and you’ve got little model tractors, you’ve got everything signs. Tell us a little bit about this Mobil sign above us. (Jim M.) It’s always been dear to my heart. My dad was a Mobil distributor in Paxico for 50 years. He didn’t really have this sign, but I found it and had it redone. As Mobil has always been my favorite brand, so we got it fixed up, and always had it lit up for the museum. (Jim S) I got to tell you, my dad was a Texaco dealer and Texaco was always my favorite brand – so the big star — the big star was mine. That’s impressive. You’ve got a Ford sign over here. (Jim M.) Yes, the Ford sign came. We used to have a Ford car dealer in town. It’s gone now, but it was on the front of the building, and the guy that owned it I asked him if he’s going to sell it. He said, I’ll give it to you, but we had to rebuild it and everything. And then the Chevrolet sign up above here came from a Chevrolet dealer we had down town. (Jim S.) Here in Wamego. (Jim M.) Right, and we’ve got an Oldsmobile sign and a couple of others that came from that same place. (Jim S.) And you have some other signs in the back here, on the ground — these are wonderful. (Jim M.) Just kind of collect whatever comes along, and that’s why we have some oilcans and that — (Jim S.) Tell us a little bit about this pump here. (Jim M.) That also didn’t come from my dad’s business. (Jim S.) It did or did not? (Jim M.) Did not. Actually, a farmer had that on his property, and I asked him about one day, and I think we traded for that on something — I’m not sure what, both of these signs. (Jim S) And you have a Skelly from Tulsa, Oklahoma — (Jim M.) Yes. (Jim S.) — pump back there in the back, again off of farmers— (Jim M.) Yes, both of them came from farmers places. That’s how we collected, financed stuff, and today we have people bring stuff in, and some of it they just give it to us — they don’t want it to go to the junkyard. (Jim S.) Right, exactly, so that it’s preserved here. (Jim M.) Yes. (Jim S.) That’s great. (Jim M.) Yes, trying to preserve the past is what we’re trying to do. (Jim S.) Sure. I think you’re doing a good job. Wow. (Jim M.) [laughs] Thank you. We’ve got some toy tractors, like you’d buy at our stores, to the old tractors, to brand new ones. We go from about 20 horsepower on the real tractors to about 600 horsepower today. (Jim S.) In the museum. (Jim M.) In the museum in our business. The big ones are in the big building. (Jim S.) Right. (Jim M.) We just try to collect, like the pedal tractors and everything we see that’s old, try to take care of it. (Jim S.) Okay. I’m not ready for the museum yet, although my kids think so. [laughter] (Jim M.) I think my kids think the same. But it’s been a fun project. (Jim S.) Okay. We’ve got to take a break. We want to talk about these big tractors in the back here. Folks stay with us. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim S.) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. Jim Meinhardt is with us at the museum here in Wamego. Jim, I know you probably get this question a lot and I’ll be another one to ask it. You’ve got to have some favorites of all your tractors in here. I won’t ask you the top one, so maybe give me the top five. (Jim M.) Okay. (Jim S.) What are your favorite top five tractors? (Jim M.) Well, two of them are behind us here. The first one is a D17 Allis-Chalmers. It was on our showroom floor when we purchased the business, and it was one of the three that were sitting on the floor. We were able to buy it back and fix it up. And that’s about a 1967 model. And the D21 is one we traded for and fixed up. And they were real popular in tractor pulling, had a lot of power. (Jim S.) That’s a big tractor. What’s the horsepower on it? (Jim M.) About 135 horsepower, but they could run them up to a couple hundred horsepower. (Jim S.) And you say they’re used a lot for tractor pulling. (Jim M.) Yes. (Jim S.) Yes, I’ll be darned. Okay. Well, what about the 17 here, D17? (Jim M.) D17, we sold it new. The guy kept it until he, actually, passed away and had a sale, and we bought it back from the family. And this is pretty special since it was one of the first tractors we ever sold. (Jim S.) It came with the business and you were able to buy it back. I’ll be darned. (Jim M.) Right. Yes, So it’s kind of special. (Jim S.) So maybe a lot of the tractors you have, you actually sold and then got back? (Jim M.) Oh, probably — maybe 20% of the tractors we sold new, and one way or another, we traded back for them and everything. Most of what we have here, we’ve traded for. Very few we’ve purchased but then we just kind of hold on to. It’s kind of fun because people actually come in and want to know where their grandpa’s tractor was or – (Jim S.) And want to see it. (Jim M.) Yes. It’s a lot of fun. They reminisce on the old history. (Jim S.) Okay. I bet. I bet. (Jim M.) Yes. The tractor right here beside us is nothing special except it’s a tractor with a bale loader, and it’s all complete. And that’s something we can’t find because most of them are salvaged out or taken off and never put back on, and parts get lost. So we like to find those kind of units, which is getting harder to find every day. (Jim S.) Right. Yes, that’s an impressive little thing. I hauled lots of hay with those. (Jim M.) Right. I did too. [laughter] (Jim S.) Those where a great invention. (Jim M.) That’s right. That’s right. You bet. But it’s just kind of fun to talk to people and show them everything about it. (Jim S.) Yes. (Jim M.) Yes. Well, back to Allis-Chalmers tractors. We’ve got about one of every size made, and that’s something we try to get a full line of collection, probably from the ‘40s on up to about 1970. That range. (Jim S.) And they’re all on the back wall back here, right? (Jim M.) Right, on the back wall. (Jim S.) Okay. (Jim M.) This tractor here is an F20 Farmall. It belonged to my father-in-law, his brother, and they farmed with this tractor for many years. We got it out of the shed kind of in pieces and rebuilt it, and we’ve had it in parades. It farmed a lot of land in its time. And also we have a smaller Allis-Chalmers, which is kind of special. (Jim S.) We’ve got to take a break. (Jim M.) Okay. (Jim S.) Folks, we have to take a break. So stay with us. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim S.) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. Jim Meinhardt from Wamego is with us and his Tractor Museum. Jim, this is the back wall that we were talking about, all the Allis-Chalmers tractors. Tell us a little bit about them. (Jim M.) Well, these tractors are anywhere from 1940s through probably 1960. All different sizes, they’re gas, diesel, propane, a little bit of everything. I just kind of put a row of them together that everybody can see them at one time. The museum, what we’ve been talking about doing is being open two or three days a week. At this point, we have it open if you call ahead, and we’ll be glad to show it to you. Hope to be more full time in the future. As everyone knows, farming has been real good for the last four years. That’s changed—(Jim S.) A little tough right now. (Jim M.) That’s changed drastically in the last year. And we were really busy during that time. So the museum kind of got put on hold. And so we haven’t done a lot with it but we’re kind of getting back with it now. And I hope to have it open so people can see it, but we’ll show it to anybody, if they call it in. (Jim S.) Well that’s good. There’s a tractor that’s kind of special down on the back wall back here, well actually the front wall. Well, tell us a little bit about that little thing. (Jim M.) It’s an Allis-Chalmers Deputy 45. My dad sold it new to the Pulinski family down in Kansas, and I actually traded it back for that tractor with their son for a small tractor to keep the farm setup. They’ve quit farming, but that has been a lot of fun because the gentleman has been overseeing it. He passed away since then, but he loved to see that tractor. (Jim S.) Sure, I understand. Now one of my favorites is that Oliver 77 over there on the west wall over there, and that’s kind of one of my favorites in there. Tell us a little bit about that one. (Jim M.) Well, I actually really always liked the sound of an Oliver tractor. They ran smooth, and there was a lot of them around this area. A lot of the Oliver owners, when they bought Oliver they usually stayed with them until they basically went out of business. (Jim S.) A lot of loyalty then, huh? (Jim M.) A lot of loyalty. It’s just got a real nice looking smooth running traction. We also collect operator’s manuals. We have them here beside us here. We trying to get them all taken care of. Some of those we have for sale along with other equipment. (Jim S.) And you have a bookcase on the north wall here of manuals as well. (Jim M.) Yes. We just kind of try to get them lined out. Some people want them and some of them have names in them yet, good to ID equipment and everything. So they’re kind of interesting. (Jim S.) Yes, that is interesting. (Jim M.) Well I think I like most of the deals that you hear the stories from the older people on how tough things were and how they used to use them and the other things. A lot of fun. (Jim S.) I’ve got to ask you. What does your wife say about your habit? I call it a good habit, but what does your wife say about your bad habit of collecting? (Jim M.) Well, she shakes her head quite a bit. But I’ve been in this business all my life. My wife is a farm girl so she—(Jim S.) Understands, she understands. (Jim M.) Understands, yes. (Jim S.) Okay. Well, that’s a good thing to have, an understanding wife here. I understand. (Jim M.) What we’ve kind of done is also to help draw people to our dealership, getting equipped. (Jim S.) Right. (Jim M.) And people drive through this lot. You can usually come down about any time of the day. Sometimes late in the evening, somebody would be driving around. People bring their kids out here to sit on the old equipment. It’s just fun to watch them, and every weekend somebody drives through, and then on Monday I’ll get a call wanting to know if that machine’s for sale, and how much do you want for it. That’s been a lot of fun too. (Jim S.) Jim, I really appreciate you taking time showing us your museum, your old Tractor Museum. (Jim M.) Thank you. (Jim S.) Folks, thank you for being with us and don’t forget next week about this same time we’ll have another issue of That’s My Farm. See you then.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

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