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A rare collection

By Kriss Nelson - Farm News editor | Nov 2, 2020

A rare collection

By KRISS NELSON

editor@farm-news.com

CLARION — Larry Maasdam just doesn’t collect your typical antique tractor.

In fact, the majority of his collection is made up of tractors that were never part of a farm in Iowa.

After several years of collecting model toys, Maasdam began collecting what he calls “antique crawlers.”

“It’s anything with tracks on it,” he said, adding that collection began in 1984.

Maasdam had been traveling to California in search of crawlers when he discovered Hi-Crop tractors at a John Deere show.

“I was told they were really scarce,” he said. “I happened to be in California looking for crawlers and I saw those Hi-Crop tractors all over the place.”

The crawlers and Hi-Crop tractors, led to a quest for Maasdam to begin collecting those types of tractors that are rarely seen in this area.

“There are none in Iowa. It is something you don’t see in Iowa or in the Midwest. There were a few small ones in a few nurseries up in Minnesota,” he said.

Maasdam said he owned 93 Hi-Crop tractors of all different brands at one time. He has since sold some of the duplicates he had accumulated and he currently owns 88 Hi-Crop tractors.

The majority of Maasdam’s collection can be seen at the Heartland Museum in Clarion. He said he is available to visit with people about this tractor collection and can be reached by calling 515 689 3501 or by calling the Heartland Museum at 515 602 6000.

Maasdam’s search for tractors has not only sent him throughout the United States, but overseas to places such as Germany, Holland, England and Belgium.

“I just want to buy what I don’t have,” he said. “If I find a rare one, I am anxious to buy it.”

Some of the tractors Maasdam will have restored. Others he will leave in their current condition.

“If I fix them up, I don’t sell them,” he said. “I have hardly sold anything until the last couple of years. I am getting older and I don’t need as quite as many as I got.”

Maasdam is slowly beginning to let go of some of this restored models, however.

“Two years ago at Christmas, I gave all of my kids and grandkids a tractor,” he said. “They just have to leave them in the museum for five years.”

Currently, the oldest crawler he owns is a model from 1913 and it will be sold after the first of the year.

Maasdam said a lot of people ask him what his favorite tractor is.

“I have one answer — too many,” he said.

Some of his collection includes tractors that never made it to the marketplace; to others that spent hours in the orchards of California to an engine to a combine that was never used, still wrapped in the packaging from the factory.

Maasdam also collects vintage snowmobiles; a few trucks, antique signs and clocks.

Up until August, Big Bud, the world’s largest tractor had called the Heartland Museum home for several years.

Maasdam said now that he is gone, there is still plenty for the tractor enthusiast to enjoy.

“There is something for everybody. I have just a little of everything,” he said.

In fact, he already has filled the large spot left empty by Big Bud.

One unique tractor that will take the place is a 1959 8020 John Deere four-wheel-drive tractor.

This particular model, he said was amongst the first bunch that was made. Before it can make its way to the Heartland Museum, Maasdam said he has a little work that needs to be done.

Not too much, however.

“It’s not restored, but I took it to an anniversary show for John Deere about 12 years ago and it was judged best original,” he said. “I am just going to get it cleaned up and fix the starter.

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