For many farmers, keeping at least some older equipment in the farm fleet isn’t just an option, it’s necessity. But few are using a classic machine so sought after it can literally stop traffic when doing fieldwork. Monty Niebergall of Neudorf, Sask., has an ultra-rare John Deere WA-14 tractor that does exactly that. “Some guys will stop and take pictures when they see it in the field,” he says.
And it’s no wonder — WA-14s are some of the rarest 60s-era Deeres on the planet. The WA-14 and a larger WA-17 were made for Deere from 1968 to 1970 by FWD Wagner, a U.S. firm that built high-horsepower articulated tractors. These two models were the horsepower kings in Deere’s tractor line up during those years.
Niebergall says he has had several offers from collectors to take it off his hands. But the WA-14 isn’t likely to slip into retirement that easily. He has no plans to sell it or replace it with a newer, updated model anytime soon. “Not while I’m farming. What’s the point? What would I replace it with?,” he asks. Keeping the older WA-14 in service helps him reduce his overall investment and still get crops seeded on time. With 225 horsepower, it still has enough muscle to handle relatively large equipment.
Since buying the old Deere in 1992, Niebergall has worked on updating it both mechanically and cosmetically. He rebuilt the N855 Cummins engine, updated the hydraulics, changed to wider tires, improved the air conditioning system and repainted the entire tractor. The result is the WA-14 now performs like new. Replacing it with a more expensive, late-model machine that would only do the same job doesn’t make sense to Niebergall.
With so few of these models ever produced, keeping this tractor in good condition is like managing a retirement investment. There will likely continue to be strong demand for them from collectors, which means this tractor will continue to increase in value as time goes on. If Niebergall replaced it with a newer, more common tractor, the opposite would be true. It would lose value. So, keeping the WA-14 on his machinery roster is a good financial plan.
What advice does he offer to other farmers intent on keeping an older machine working for a long time? “Keep the cosmetics up. A guy has to have it looking nice,” he says. Nobody could argue with the need to feel good about your ride! Machines that look good just seem to work better, at least that’s the perception.
But aside from looking good, Niebergall’s tractor still has to be able to do the job efficiently. It’s his primary field tractor. That means keeping on top of the mechanical end of things. “Don’t let it go too far,” he adds. “Then you’re beat.” His WA-14 looks like it just rolled off the assembly line; Niebergall clearly practices what he preaches. And with only 5,000 accumulated engine hours, the tractor likely has a long working life ahead of it.
Doyouhaveafavouriteoldermachinestillworking onyourfarm?Letusknowwhatitisandwhy youdecidedtokeepit.Sendaemailwithapicture toGrainewsmachineryeditor,ScottGarvey at [email protected]