November Featured Collector

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Sometimes when a fellow gets the antique tractor bug, he really gets it bad. Such is the case with Darrell Oltmanns, a four-year member of the Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Association. In January 2000, a friend who was collecting old Allis Chalmers took Darrell to a farm auction and the friend ended up buying a good tractor. That’s when the tractor bug hit Darrell and the hunt was on.

Darrell started looking for a Farmall B and located one in north central Nebraska. He was so certain that he was going to buy it that he borrowed a trailer to bring it home. But much to his disappointment the bidding got too high and he returned home with an empty trailer. After attending numerous farm sales and auctions with his son, he bought a 1953 Oliver 77 row crop. When they got home that night his son jokingly told his step-mother that “Dad” had bought her a birthday present, as her birthday was coming up in a very few days. She didn’t know whether to believe him or not since he didn’t bring anything home from the auction. But in a few days they drove back to DeWeese, NE and brought the 77 home; the restoration of the Oliver was underway. Shortly thereafter he purchased the much-wanted Farmall B in southwest Kansas and its refurbishing began.

The Oliver went from an assembled implement to hundreds of parts all over the garage floor. With assistance from his faithful helper (wife Gwen) and a four-year old neighbor boy, the 77 started to come back together. Darrell’s son, Dean, did most of the paintwork and the tractor was ready for its first show appearance at the 2000 EVAPA show. The 1940 Farmall B is now completely restored, as is a Massey Harris manure spreader, which Darrell uses to haul grandchildren and neighborhood kids in local parades.

Darrell grew up in a small northwest Iowa town with a population of 120. Though his father was in the livestock buying and trucking business, Darrell was often out at one of his uncle’s farms getting on a tractor seat whenever possible. At a young age he helped make hay, spread manure and even cultivated crosschecked corn. It was this work that nurtured his interest in Farmalls and Olivers.

Darrell has a lifetime of experiences in the truck parts business and for the last eight years has been the Purchasing Manager for Nebraska-Iowa Industrial Fasteners in Omaha. He has brought his organizational skill to the Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Assn. as well, chairing the 2001 EVAPA raffle and organizing the inaugural EVAPA “Tractor Ride for Charity,” which now has become an annual club event and charity fundraiser.

Gwen and Darrell participate in a great number of local shows and parades; they attended the 2004 national Oliver/Hart Parr show in Madison, SD. this past summer and took the 77 along. Darrell says it sure makes you feel good when someone gives you a compliment about your nice-looking tractor. And he always remembers to thank his helpers, wife Gwen, son Dean and neighbor boy, Justin. Their assistance has made this antique tractor hobby something very special!


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