Antique tractor collection selling at online auction

Katherine Sears
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
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The International Harvester Titan 10-20 tractor was manufactured between 1919 and was purchased for $900 brand new.
Photo by Katherine Sears

“Can’t keep ‘em forever,” said Mike Tyler about his family’s 50-year-old collection of antique tractors.  
Brothers Mike and Paul Tyler, along with brother Ron and sister Patty, inherited the collection from their dad and uncle who passed away over 20 years ago. The tractors have been stored on the ranch since then.  Many are nearly 100 years old and most are in running condition.
Restoring tractors was a serious hobby of brothers Max and Earl Tyler. For 50 years, they purchased and restored tractors, amounting to a collection of nearly 50 antique pieces that are currently for auction online. The brothers also collected Caterpillar equipment, a collection that now resides in the Caterpillor visitor center and museum in Peoria, Illinois.
The brothers found tractors to buy throughout the years at farm auctions, Forest Service auctions and out of people’s boneyards all around Central Montana. Several tractors were purchased brand new in Moore and Lewistown in the 1920s and 1930s. Some, Mike says, they are just the second owners of.
“Max and Earl Tyler spent many years restoring, repairing and enjoying them,” said Mike.

The collection contains tractors of all sizes and features, from gas and diesel to kerosene, and from steel wheels to rubber tires. The oldest and largest tractor is a 1911 22 HP Avery Undermount Steam Traction Engine. Founded in 1891, the Avery Company built a line of large equipment, including steam engines, threshing machines, plows and trucks. The Tyler’s tractor is in mint condition for its age and still has the original kerosene front headlight, among several other features. It has been with the family for over 70 years, but Mike said he’s never fired it up, though his grandfather Charles, along with Max and Earl, demonstrated it in the 1950s.
There are several other rare pieces of equipment in the collection, including two Rumely Oil Pull models, Twin City tractors, Fordson, McCormick Deering, Case, John Deer, Minneapolis, Hart-Parr, several Monarchs and many Allis Chalmers pieces.
“A lot of people have never heard of the Twin City tractor,” said Mike. Founded in 1902, Minneapolis Steel and Manufacturing Company gave their tractors the brand name Twin City. They originally manufactured steel sections for large structures such as bridges, and later expanded into steam and gas engines. The two models in the collection were produced between 1919 and 1927 and between 1926 and 1935.
An Allis Chalmers 15-25 “L” tractor is part of the collection and is one of only 14 known to still exist.
During WWII, many tractors equipment were scrapped to help in the war effort.
“A lot of them got scrapped for iron in WWII,” said Mike, “People sold their tractors. That’s what happened to a lot of the steam tractors,” he added.
A 1919 Cleveland, Mike pointed out, was used to pull ore cars in the mine at Anaconda. Mike and Paul’s dad also had a liking for Cletracs, as he had used them while working for the Civilian Conservation Corps out of high school.
“When dad graduated high school he didn’t have work because of the Depression of the 1930s, so he worked for the CCC, building roads in the Flathead Valley and around Glacier,” said Mike.
The 1919 Titan 10-20, made by International Harvester or the merger between McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and Deering Harvester Company, was one of the pieces of equipment that helped early farmers transition from horses to tractors.
“The Titan tractor is really an early tractor with an unusual design,” said Mike.
He added the cross-mounted motors on the Minneapolis and the Rumely Oil Pulls were also of unusual design.
“They replaced a lot of horses,” he added, “Made farming easier than manhandling horses all day long.”
Although many of the tractors were not used by the Tylers for farming, several of the pieces were.
“There were some that my father and his brother grew up with,” said Mike, “They farmed with ‘em.”
The Tylers donated two tractors to the Lewistown Tractor Club and have 45 lined up for auction. Mike said although he and his brother will miss the collection, it is time for others to enjoy them after all these years.
“We’ve had a lot of interest,” said Mike.
The online auction runs through Oct. 8.