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Moline Collector Cherishes His 100-Year-Old Tractor
“I guess you could say Minneapolis Moline tractors and implements and Moline Plow Company equipment have been in my blood for more than 7 decades, and they’re not about to leave anytime soon,” says retired Iowa farmer Loren Book. “My dad was an MM dealer, and we farmed with their equipment, so it’s my heritage.”
Book and his wife Ruth have collected, restored, and exhibited MM and Moline Plow Company equipment since the mid-1980’s. Their homestead museum also houses toys, signs, advertising memorabilia, and just about every knick-knack the two companies produced.
The pride of Book’s collection is a 1918 Moline Plow Company Universal D Orchard Tractor. Book bought it at an Indiana auction in 2005, fixed its imperfections, and repainted it with shiny lacquer. It’s been on the Classic Tractor TV show, at the Farm Progress Show, and for years he’s taken it to local and national shows, including the national MM collector’s events. In 2023 they’ll have it in Minnesota and northern Indiana.
People are always intrigued by the Universal and always have questions. Book usually has the answers. “The company started in 1870 after the firm of Candee and Swan won a patent lawsuit against John Deere that allowed them to use the Moline Plow name,” Book says. “They produced plows and other implements and eventually bought rights to build the Universal Tractor, which they built from 1916 to 1923.”
Book’s tractor, the Orchard Model, is one of three known to still exist in the U.S. It has two large steel wheels, is powered by a 4-cyl. engine, and pulls trailing implements that the operator rides on and controls. “The tractor was designed to work fields, cultivate row crops and replace horses,” Book says, “and it did a darn good job. They marketed it across the country, in Canada, Mexico, Spain and Australia. I’ve used my tractor to pull a 2-bottom plow, a disk, and other implements.”
Book has nearly 75 MM tractors in his collection, including a rare KTA and a U High Crop LP model. His implement collection includes a bale-o-matic baler, a corn and bean planter, a grain drill, threshers, harrows, a hay loader, rakes, and several plows. They’re all part of the long line of equipment produced by the Moline Company, rivaling similar equipment made by Deere and other manufacturers. Book says the Moline company may have expanded too fast in the 1920’s, even producing Stephens Six touring cars, commercial trucks, and a full line of wagons. That diversity, competition, and the tough economic climate led to the company’s demise. In 1929 it merged with two other companies to form Minneapolis-Moline.
“The Minneapolis-Moline brand was a thriving business from the early 1930’s until the late 1960’s, and my dad was fortunate to have a very good dealership that he started in 1950,” Book says. “He sold it in 1959, then bought a Deere 4020 for the farm. I started collecting MM tractors and implements 38 years ago.”
Today, Book and his wife Ruth carry on the MM heritage with nearly 600 other collectors in the U.S. and other parts of the world through the Minneapolis Moline Collector’s Club.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Loren Book, 18581 600th Ave., Nevada, Iowa 50201 (lgbook46@gmail.com).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2