1997 - Volume #21, Issue #6, Page #21[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
First Steiger Tractor On Exhibit At Farm Show
The tractor was displayed near the Case-IH exhibit, the manufacturer which recently reintroduced the big powerhouse machines under the Steiger name.
We dug up the history of this original Steiger with the help of Doug Steiger, Jack Johnson and Gene Dahl, all former Steiger Tractor Co. officers, as well Cliff Melroe, son of the founder of the Melroe Company.
The tractor was built by Doug Steiger, his brother Maurice, and their father John during the winter of 1957-'58 in the family's cattle barn in their farm near St. Hilaire, Minn.
The first Steiger was powered by a 671 Detroit Diesel engine rated at 218 gross hp. The engine came from Interstate Diesel in Minneapolis, Minn. Its used axles came off a big iron ore truck and the tires "were the biggest you could get in those days," recalls Doug Steiger, now 64, of Thief River Falls, Minn.
Part of the drawbar was fashioned out of plow beams, while regular steel and sheet metal were used for most other parts of the tractor.
It originally featured a tiller-type steering system that was later replaced with a conventional steering wheel.
The biggest challenge in building it was designing gears for the drop box, Steiger points out. "We had limited tools so we had to do it unconventionally."
The tractor, including a cultivator hitch, was completed in time for field work in the spring of 1958.
"We used the tractor ourselves and put close to 10,000 hours on it," says Steiger.
"Steiger tractors like this one sold for $20,000 to $25,000."
The tractor was donated in running condition to the Bonanzaville museum on the northeast side of the Red River Valley Fair-grounds at Fargo in the early 1980's. About all the refurbishing it needed was a fresh coat of trademark lime green paint, says Steiger.
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