Looking all over for Oliver tractors

Dale Sult, Oliver tractor collector.

By Jef Rietsma

Collector? Dale Sult.

Collection? Oliver tractors.

How did your collection begin? “From the time I was just a little guy, my dad farmed in Fulton and his first new tractor was an Oliver. It was purchased from the original Ken Crum Chevrolet in Schoolcraft … a lot of people don’t know they once sold farm equipment. Fast forward a number of years and there was an auction out to Schoolcraft and there was an Oliver 60 in that auction. I was familiar with that tractor because when I was a kid, we’d go to that farm and that was the tractor dad would use to skid (the farmer’s) logs.”

Sult said the transaction took place in 1978 and he paid $400 for the tractor, a 1944 Oliver 60.

Did you use that tractor to farm? “No. Aside from the nostalgia of owning that tractor, I didn’t really have a plan right away. Eventually, I’d take it to tractor shows. But I decided then any tractors I’d purchase from that point on would be an Oliver tractor. None of the tractors I’ve purchased have been used to farm once I acquired them.”

How many do you own now? “Oh, close to two dozen, I’d say. I have some of the collection here at the house but most are stored in a pole barn on land I own up in Alamo Township.”

Are there any unique or rare tractors in your collection? “Yes, a 1954 Oliver 66 row-crop diesel wide-front, which is real rare. That’s probably the one that means the most to me.”

Do you buy tractors in poor condition? “Almost all of them, actually. Some I’ve even brought home in pieces on a trailer. One in particular was a rare old tractor I bought from a guy in Burr Oak. It was an industrial Oliver 60, only 800 were made. About six months later I had it up and running.”

Sult said the tractor’s original owner, a gentleman from the South Bend area, recognized it on display at the annual old tractor show in the Cass County community of Jones. The man Sult bought it from got to see it in its re-assembled state years later, too.

Have you ever been to the location where Oliver tractors were manufactured? “I sure have. Charles City, Iowa. I have a brick out in my barn from the original building. They have a museum there, there are some prototypes that never ended up being made. It was a real treat.”

What’s the most you paid for a tractor? “I paid $3,500 for my 1930 Hart Parr, which was the forerunner of Oliver. It’s a two-cylinder cross motor with steel wheels. It’s a nice tractor. Wasn’t when I bought it but it was a nice tractor by the time I got done.”

Do you belong to a club or organization? “Oh, yes. It’s a club called the Oliver Gang and I also belong to the Hart-Parr Oliver Collectors Association.”

Is there a model that eludes you? “There’ve been a lot of Olivers over the years that I’ve wanted … I always wanted a Super 44, which was the only tractor Oliver didn’t use its own motor in; they used Continental. It’s a high-dollar tractor now and they come up now and then on auctions, and sell for $18,000 to $20,000. But I’m pretty much done collecting now.”

Footnotes: Sult, 81, lives near the south end of Indian Lake. He is a Vicksburg High School graduate. He said his son and grandson are tractor enthusiasts, and will be the eventual owners of his collection. Sult also has a large collection of pedal tractors.

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