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Beautiful Massey Collection Still Missing One Model
We were impressed by the quality of a collection of Massey Ferguson garden tractors featured in a recent issue of LAGC magazine (www.lawnandgardencollector.com).
  To say Bill Mickler's collection is well cared for is an understatement. Over the winter, 10 of them were wrapped in quilts and covered with tarps before they were locked in a 26-ft. enclosed trailer for the season. When he and his wife, Barbara, take them to shows this year, they will be displayed under a canopy and carefully wiped down before they're loaded back into the trailer.
  As the LAGC magazine editor noted, they look like they just came off a dealer's show floor.
  Mickler says that he didn't intend to become a collector when he bought his first Massey garden tractor in 1967. He bought it because he had 11 acres of lawn to mow. He selected the No. 10 model from a brochure his neighbor had and paid about $1,400 for the tractor with a 42-in. mowing deck.
  He didn't start collecting until 1995, when he retired. He had a collection of Ford farm tractors he had already restored, but he liked the idea of working on smaller tractors. He could fit 10 garden tractors in his trailer, versus just two farm tractors.
  He also appreciated Massey's quality. His No. 10 gave him decades of work, before he took it to a shop to repair and overhaul the engine.
  "Massey is one of the prettiest tractors," Mickler adds. "It had four colors - silver mist, flint metallic grey, rouge red and satin black." As he attended shows and farm auctions he focused on the "striped grill" models made over a 10-year span from 1966 to 1976. They came in models 10, 12, 14 and 16, which reflect the corresponding horsepower. Types of transmissions varied in the series and included 4-speed standard and hydrostatic. The 10 was the most unique with a variable-speed transmission four standard gears and five speeds in each gear for a total of 20 speeds in both forward and reverse.
  Mickler also collected models 5, 6, 7 and 8, which are riding mowers, to create a complete collection. But, he prefers the garden tractors with 3-pt. hitches and enough horsepower to use attachments he has also collected: plow, cultivator, disk, tandem disk and a rare one-row planter.
  The tractors and implements came in varying conditions when Mickler purchased them in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio.
  "I tore the garden tractors completely down," he says. "At times I'd have 1,700 parts on the garage floor. It takes me 7 to 9 months to rebuild one from the ground up."
  He sandblasts, hand sands, works the sheet metal, fixes mechanical parts and puts in all new nuts and bolts for each restoration.
  "The biggest challenge is finding parts," Mickler says. "When Massey got out (sold to Snapper), they didn't leave many parts."
Mickler bought 7 old garden tractors just to tear down for parts.
  His collection of 10 restored and four tractors to restore has just one hole.
  "I'm having a hard time finding a 14," he says. After a couple of stories about his collection were published, he received about 100 calls. Tractors that sounded promising were too far away and too costly to transport. Mickler is hoping he will find one closer to his Indianapolis home.
  "It has to have the original engine and parts. You can't buy the original cast iron block. I don't care if it smokes, but it has to be the original block," he says.
  Meanwhile, Mickler has four others to restore, and he and his wife will attend shows with the showroom quality Massey garden tractors he already has.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Mickler (ph 317 356-8332).

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2011 - Volume #35, Issue #4