OSHKOSH - Mark Ruedinger once told me that he had overhauled around 5,000 farm tractors in his lifetime. That is a considerable number but a quick check added up nine just for me.
He was a tenacious mechanic, farmer and businessman, who worked hard, loved his family and amassed a huge collection of old tractors and assorted memorabilia.
On three or four wheels and some track, there were plenty of Internationals, Cases, Fords, Fordsons and Fergusons, a few John Deeres, Olivers, some Massey-Harris, a couple Co-ops, and a few forgotten others.
Mark’s life work ended a few years ago and, in recent weeks, 140 of his old tractors were pulled out of the farmyard and out of sheds to be auctioned off. Some of the tractors were only skeletons of their former selves but others were complete, some overhauled and repainted, and even a few contemporary models used on farms today.
Bidders came from around to the Midwest and took home some rare machines including a beautiful blue Fordson for $725; a somewhat rare International F-12 with a very rare, steel, Waukesha single-front wheel; and the crème-de-la-crème for local enthusiasts: Chilton’s Hingiss Implement’s display tractor with original advertising.
Mark bought the tractor when Hingiss went out of business in the mid 1980’s and it sat in a shed ever since with its parade days well behind it until Saturday (Aug. 12).
John Marty and his son Johnny from Waterloo, Wisconsin, bought the Hingiss tractor for $925 and historic perspective. They bought a lot of other tractors and toys too as Johnny (11 or 12 years old) did the bidding to learn the family business.
Two brothers from Big Rock, Illinois took home the F-12 with the Waukesha wheel, and a John Deere two-bottom plow on steel. They came for the Waukesha wheel when they saw it on Craig’sList because they had found only one other about 25 years ago. They were excited to take this one home and match it up on a wide front tractor that they plan to use at the Big Rock Plowing Contest this fall.
My brother missed his chance for lawn art when an extremely complete IH 15-30 on steel sold for $825. It is probably better, though, because this tractor will likely be restored as the engine could still be cranked, the wheels were good and all the sheet metal was straight. I missed the selling price of an IH 20-40 but that was also a rare bird.
Mark was mainly an IH man and there were plenty of 1930-1960 models including: F-12’s, F-20’s, F-30’s, W9’s, WD9’s, W6’s, W-4’s, I-4’s, Cubs, A’s, B’s, C’s, H’s, M’s, Super M’s, etc., etc., etc.
He is missed, of course, and the landscape on Nekimi Avenue south of Oshkosh will not be quite as red as it once was when all of the tractors have been loaded and hauled away. To Mark’s family it is probably the sad end of an era but for others it is just the beginning of a new one as rusty bolts give way to new paint and pride.
With that, I am sure he would be pleased too….