2021 - Volume #45, Issue #5, Page #40[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
He Has A Passion For Thieman Tractors
“I traveled wide swaths of the country for my job and in my spare time I went to auctions and picked up a few old Olivers that a friend and I worked on,” Boquist says. “But then he died and the Olivers got to all looking alike. I wanted to work on something unique, so I started looking for Thiemans.”
Thieman tractors were built by a family of 5 brothers in Albert City, Iowa. Bill Thieman had the original idea in 1929 and the first one was sold in 1932. “Thiemans were really unusual because they were a ‘kit’ that arrived in a crate on a rail car,” Boquist says. “The buyer had to scrounge for a Model A Ford engine, a driveshaft, and a rear axle. The kit had pipes for the chassis, wheel mechanisms, a seat, a steering wheel and other parts to assemble into a tractor.”
Boquist bought 10 relic Thiemans over several years and brought them all into working condition. He’d salvage Model A 4-cylinder engines and even powered a few with flathead V-8’s. Restoration required engine re-builds, radiator repair, finding new lights, and repairing carburetors, transmissions and drive trains. “They were real easy to work on and I enjoyed taking them to shows and other events,” he says.
“A big part of shows is meeting people, answering their questions and maybe picking up a few tips on where to find other tractors,” Boquist says. “I always enjoyed telling people that a basic Thieman kit sold for just $185, without an engine, and the buyer had to put it all together. If the kit had an engine the price was about $500. Buyers could also get options for a few dollars more. The governor was $15, a combination drawbar was $9, an air cleaner was $7, and a cultivator attachment was $15.”
The company sold 4,000 to 6,000 kits over an 8-year span. “The tractors worked great for light tillage and cultivating and had one key feature unavailable elsewhere. The electric starter was really popular because other tractors required hand cranking, which had to be done by someone with a strong arm.”
Like many other tractor companies, the Thieman business folded as WWII began. “I probably had the largest collection of Thiemans in the country, but now they’re dispersed, and other collectors are enjoying them,” Boquist says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Harold Boquist, 602 O St. Apt. 500, Saint Paul, Neb. 68873.
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