A man from rural Platte Center enjoys collecting rare Massey Harris tractors and farm equipment.
Tim Gronenthal says the two tractors that stand out in his collection are the serial number one 333, and the serial number one 444. It means these were the first tractors of that model ever built. "I got them from Tub Drohman at the Ruskin sale in 2017. Tub was the owner, and he had some health problems," Gronenthal said. "That day I was able to get both of them bought. I thought Tub would be around a long time. He was quite a man with knowledge, and just loved to talk tractors, and knew everything. When we lost Tub, we lost someone who can't be replaced."
So, the serial number one 333 and 444 tractors are probably the prize of his collection, but Gronenthal has other rare items, including many triple three's, four's, and five's. "I also own a 1937 Challenger, and it's very rare. There were only 446 of these ever made," Gronenthal said. "It's rare because it doesn't have twin power, it was the first red and yellow row crop tractor that Massey Harris made, and it starts on gas, and runs on kerosene." Some experts say there are less than 10 tractors like Gronenthal's Challenger that still exist.
"I have several LP triples, they are more rare than than gas or diesel," Gronenthal said. "I've changed over to collecting machinery a bit. I've got a pretty rare number three manure spreader with wood wheels, I have a number eight horse-drawn manure spreader that is in excellent condition, and I've got a number 15 tractor manure spreader." Gronenthal says he's traveled many miles to get some of this unique and rare equipment.
"I have a number eight hay loader that is in original condition. I have a six-cylinder Massey Harris self-propelled corn picker, and that was made toward the end of the Massey Harris era," Gronenthal said. There is also a Massey Harris grain wagon in original condition in Gronenthal's collection. "It's never been in a corn field, never hooked a team of horses except in a parade, and it's never had an ear of corn thrown in the box, or a scoop in the bottom," Gronenthal said. "You get the bug for collecting. I caught it after I got my first tractor in Wisconsin, and it's about the tractors, but it's also about the people you meet."
If you have questions for Tim, you can give him a call at (402) 276-2867.