September Featured Collector

Larry Kruse sees a distinct similarity between restoring an old tractor and hunting pheasants. Larry says he gets both the thrill of the hunt and the prize it provides. The hunter walks through the field and weeds looking for game (parts), only you use your checkbook rather than a gun to bring home the bounty. Then you have to clean and prepare your game (parts) and finally you feast on the reward.

Early on, Larry, who was raised on a farm near Carroll, IA, decided that an engineering career would be more rewarding than working on a family farm. However, his farming work ethic carried over into his career as a safety engineer. His employer decided that Larry should work out of his home. He ended up working at his company computer way past dark, just like a farmer. It was then that his wife, Dahna, suggested he get a hobby and get away from the desk. An advertisement about the Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Assn. caught his interest since he liked to make things work like they did when they were new. After a little investigation he became a member.

A fellow club member helped him find an Oliver Super 55 Diesel. He started by replacing a broken axle and inspecting the transmission and rear end. It was obvious that tractor needed engine and PTO clutches and new seals in the engine and rear end. The front axle and steering box also had to be completely overhauled. He learned to do body work as the project progressed. Learning to paint was an experience; he says he probably used twice as much paint as most professionals would.

As a youth Larry spent many hours on his family’s 1947 Oliver 70 with a 2 -16” plow, 4-row cultivator or a mounted 2-row corn picker. Now he restoring a 48 Oliver 70 Row Crop that is just like the first tractor he drove. He is also working on an Oliver ladder lift plow. A couple of years ago he restored a Case VAI for his father.

Working as a safety engineer has its stresses. Larry, who has been both vice president and secretary/treasurer of this club, finds that working on old tractors and machinery is a good way to relieve the tensions. And he likes the diversity of knowledge and experience that the Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Assn. provides. The members all have different skills and perspectives that are valuable as resources when you are trying to restore your equipment. The club’s antique tractor show gives Larry an opportunity to show off the results of his labors. Larry says, “I know many of the people who look at these old tractors do not understand how much time, effort and resources are required to resurrect and restore a piece of equipment.” Maybe this saying is true: The true test of an artist is the ability to do it so well that it looks easy.


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