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Thieman Kit Tractors Ran On Model A Power
Nearly 80 years ago, the Thieman brothers of Albert City, Iowa, had a modern, practical idea - recycle. They manufactured kit tractors that farmers could power with engines out of old Model A car engines no longer being used. The ability to purchase a tractor kit for half price - $300 to $400 - was particularly popular during the Depression.
  Don't look for similar bargains now, says Dean Thiemann, who owns three of the 1930's tractors. He's seen Thieman tractors go for as much as $12,000.
  The Versailles, Mo., man became interested in the tractor six years ago after hearing stories from his father about a dealer coming to the farm during the Depression trying to sell a tractor kit with a name similar to theirs.
  After Thiemann placed a wanted ad, he found and purchased a 1938 Thieman, which was unusual because it came with a factory-installed, 85 hp, V-8 engine - the only one he is aware of in the U.S. The company made custom tractors and even installed Model A engines for farmers who didn't think they could do it, Thiemann says.
  Thieman tractor frames are made of 5-in. bent pipe. The early ones had over-the-top steering, no front grill, and an exposed chain drive, which was quite dangerous. The tractors also have a single front tire and hand brakes. They were sold mostly in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska.
  Though a fair-size tractor, at 8 ft wide and 12 ft. long, Thieman tractors with Model A engines were light in front and tended to tip backwards. With a V-8 engine, Thiemann says his tractor is stable.
  His other tractors are more typical of the 1,600 to 2,000 tractors Thieman made from 1931 until World War II shut down production. His steel-wheel 1933 model has a 1929 Model A engine.
  "If it was any other kind of tractor, it would have been scrapped out," Thiemann laughs. "It was very rusted. I had to manufacture motor mounts. Everything was locked up."
  He has before and after photos to show the dramatic difference of his restoration work. Thiemann is currently restoring a third Thieman tractor that wore out two Model A engines and ended up with a V-8 engine.
  "Basically I collect these tractors because of the name," Thiemann says. When he takes his tractors to shows they attract both tractor and car collectors.
  There aren't many Thieman tractors around, due to interest by Model A collectors in the 1960's. They bought the engines, transmissions and rear end to put back into restored Model A cars. Remaining tractor parts were often scrapped.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dean Thiemann, 10525 Woodcraft Rd., Versailles, Mo. 65084 (ph 660 337-6584; thiemann@iland.net).

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #6