Bob’s tractor heads for second life

Susan Manzke
Bob watched at his IH 1206 was loaded on the flatbed.

Last year this time, Bob was starting another season of farming. He had no thoughts of retirement. At the end of 2018, the return of his cancer forced him to make other plans. Now, little by little, Bob has been selling off some of his old equipment.

An auger was one of the first pieces to find a different home. While the young man (Nick) and Bob were looking for a couple of extra parts that went with the auger, Nick saw Bob’s IH 1206 tractor sitting in the machine shed.

It was close to love at first sight. Nick asked if the tractor was for sale. Bob hesitated. My husband had been holding off on selling any of his tractors. Letting any of them go, even with their shortcomings would really put an end to a way of life for Bob.

Nick took a good look at the tractor. Bob told him all about all the mechanical issues the 1206  had. (Just so you get it right. People who know IH tractors say the name as twelve oh six.) How it was difficult to get into reverse gear. The parking brake wouldn’t work. The lights didn’t work either, but it had good tires all the way around.

When Nick turned the key and pushed the starter button, the 1206 started right up even though it hadn’t been run for months. That made Bob proud. His old machine still had heart. He had thought they would have had to charge the battery first after a winter of inactivity. The tractor proved him wrong.

The two men—one old, one young—talked about the tractor. It was obvious they had a mutual bond.

Nick told Bob that he wanted to restore the tractor. He had already restored a couple of other IH tractors, those no longer were used for farm work. With fancy paint jobs, his fleet of IH tractors pull floats in Wisconsin parades. If he was lucky enough to talk Bob into selling our 1206 to him, it would be showroom red once he was finished and would eventually roll in parades, too.

Knowing that Nick wanted to restore his old tractor got Bob thinking. He liked the idea of the 1206 becoming a showpiece. It was that reason that my husband finally decided to sell the tractor to Nick. It would never work again laboring through farm fields. It will never get stuck and have to be pulled out of a mud hole. Bob will never have to call me to bring out fuel to a distant part of our farm because he ran out—well let’s hope no one runs this out of fuel, especially in a parade.

A deal was made with a handshake. The 1206 was going to a new home.

Nick Van Wychen and Bob talked about IH tractors all morning as they readied the 1206 to go to its new home.

A few days later, Nick returned pulling a flatbed trailer. It really didn’t take long for Nick and his buddies to get his ‘new’ tractor ready to roll back to his home. What did take long was the tractor stories all the men shared and that included Bob.

It was a bittersweet moment watching the tractor leave the farm. But who knows, we might see it in a parade, rolling right through Seymour one day.

FYI: if you are interested in reading some additional essays by Susan, check out her blog on her web site: You can subscribe to receive an email every time Susan posts another entry.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;