A couple months back, I wrote about some of the more interesting things farm equipment manufacturers have done over the years in terms of marketing their products. One of items I originally touched on was the Gold Demonstration program IH did in 1970 to promote the introduction of their new hydrostatic transmission.
Last October, I ran a story about Richard Bird, a Pennsylvania farmer, who years later bought a neighbor's tractor only to find that it was indeed a gold demonstrator 1026.
Now this month we have another vintage iron story that is very similar:
Russ, I saw your article on the IH Gold Demonstrator tractors. In your article, you told the story of Mr. Bird and how he acquired a 1026 with 2,880 hours on it. At the end of the story you asked if anyone had a similar story to share, and well in fact I do.
I also have A 1026 Gold Demo that I came across on Craigslist completely by accident and it was truly a barn find.
It was posted as an estate sale, and I was between jobs with time on my hands, so I called and got the address and gassed up my car. I drove to the address given me and met with the person in charge of the estate sale. It was the brother of the gentleman who passed away.
He told me his brother was never married and lived on and operated an 80-acre dairy farm but retired and rented his land out in 1985, so none of the equipment had been used since. He walked me down to a rather large pole shed and the only door he had a key for was the small walk-in entry door.
Once inside, it was poorly lit, but I could see it was jam-packed with IH tractors, mostly older models like W6, W9, M and many others from that era. But in the center of the shed sat the 1026.
After literally climbing over a half a dozen tractors, I got to it, and climbed up in the cab and with the aid of my cellphone flashlight looked at the tachometer, which said 2,650 hours. I asked if that's the original tach and hours. He said "Yes, but it hasn't run since 1985."
Of course the batteries were junk, but we struck a deal, and he told me that he would get it running, and then I could drive it, and if it didn't run to my satisfaction, he would refund my down payment. Long story short, we got it running but it wouldn't move.
There happened to be a neighbor who was a former IH mechanic that went on his own and opened his own shop, so we told him to pick it up and check it out. A few days later, the mechanic called me up and said the transmission filters were waxed up from sitting that long.
He said to come on up and take it for a drive, and it ran just fine. He had not gotten the chance to put the sheet metal on before I got there to test drive it.
After finishing my ride, he said to come in the shop, because he had something to show me and there it was -- red on the outside and shiny gold on the inside.
He smiled and said, "Do you know what you have here?" I said, "I do now!"
Thanks to Darwin for another interesting story about someone purchasing a 1026 only to discover during the process, the tractor was a gold demonstrator version of the that series.
For as highly sought after these tractors are by IH collectors, it is kind amazing to have heard two similar stories in the last months in which people have stumbled upon these tractors. I guess this proves you never really know what you have until you actually look, and look really good at what you have sometimes.
If you have an interesting story regarding an IH gold demonstrator or anything else regarding interesting vintage iron, feel to contact me and we will run your story in my column.
Russ Quinn can be reached at email@example.com
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