Russ' Vintage Iron

Thieman Tractor Collector Reveals More Interesting Knowledge About the Machinery

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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A fully restored Thieman tractor owned by Matt Nedved of Waterloo, Iowa. (Photo courtesy of Matt Nedved)

OMAHA (DTN)-- Thieman tractors have been discussed at length for the last couple of months in this space. I started the conversation off in July about the Iowa tractor manufacturer from the 1930s into the early 1940s and a couple of folks added their experience with the tractor in August, including a direct decedent of the Thieman family.

As I sat down to write my September column, I fully intended to move on to another subject. I was thinking maybe about some vintage corn pickers and/or pull-type combines.

But then last week, I received an email that changed my mind about the column for this month. We now have even more information on Thieman tractors from another reader.

Here is the email:

"A friend of mine sent me the article you wrote on Thieman tractors. I grew up about 10 miles from Albert City (Iowa) where they were made. I always thought they were a neat tractor and concept where the farmer could put his own tractor together utilizing the engine/transmission/rear axle out of an old car they had around.

"I started collecting tractors back in high school (mostly green ones) and continue to do so. Eventually, I found a Thieman for my collection and as happens sometimes when collecting, one odd tractor gets lonely by itself so four more have been added to the collection to keep it company.

"Two of them I have are restored. One runs but still in its work clothes and then the last two, well, they have a long ways to go before they will be driving around. These are projects I hope to get to one of these days.

"The early Thieman tractors did not have serial number tags on them; the later ones did. They also changed the styling over the years with the early ones having a steering shaft that ran across the top of the hood to an open pedestal in front of the radiator up front.

"The later ones had an angled steering shaft and a more styled hood and sheet metal grill. There were also a variety of options, with more options on the later ones -- including steel wheels or rubber tires, belt pulley, PTO, air cleaner, cultivator attachment, governor for the engine, and two different drawbar options.

"Thieman also made a variety of other items like a corn cob-burning tank heaters for livestock, caskets and pump jacks. I actually have an original pump jack in the original shipping crate with the tag on it to where it was shipped to when new (this was a lucky find).

"Attached are a few pictures from some of the advertising material they have at the Thresherman's show in Albert City (not the best pictures, hard to zoom in and read them). I also attached a picture of one of my restored Thiemans; the other restored one I don't have a picture of it all finished.

"Thank you for the article and taking the time to read this. If you come across any Thiemans for sale, let me know. There is always room for one more!"

Matt Nedved

Waterloo, Iowa

A big thanks to Matt for the interesting email about Thieman tractors. It did not even occur to me that these tractors were "styled" during their production run.

From reading about the history of tractor manufacturing during the late 1930s, it was an interesting time of change as to what tractors looked like.

The Henry Dreyfus Organization was hired by John Deere to style the A and B in the fall of 1936. The styled A and B tractors were introduced in the summer of 1938 and called 1939 models.

Nearly the same thing was happening at the International Harvester Company (IHC) at the same time.

Famed industrialist Raymond Loewy created the styling for the International Harvester Company's "letter series" for model year 1939. The letter series included the A, B, BN, C, H and M.

Thieman tractors were also in on the styling farm tractors at this same. The redesigned steering column, more styled hoods and a grill with sheet metal were all aspects many tractor manufacturers of the day did with their models.

The best part of writing this column is hearing the different stories from readers. Once again, if you have any stories about the Thieman tractor line please contact me.

Russ Quinn can be reached at

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