Russ' Vintage Iron

More on Rare Vintage Combines

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Last month, I wrote a column about lesser known manufacturers and their combines. Specifically, those combines made by the Oliver Company as well as Ford combines.

I had never seen an Oliver combine before but someone had posted a photo of their Oliver combine on Twitter recently. I asked if anyone had any experience with these "other" green combines.

And readers did. Here some of their stories.

"My dad had a 33 Oliver combine with a wood cab and then a 35 Oliver. I can remember running them when the custom cutters were late.

"You don't know how big a 16-foot bed is until you are filling it with an Oliver 35. He decided to just buy a combine in the early 1970s and tried to get a Massey Ferguson (MF) 510 but couldn't get one. They he tried to order an Oliver 5542 and he couldn't get that one and then he even tried to buy a Ford combine and they couldn't get one either.

"He ended up buying a MF 750 from a local custom cutter that had ordered too many combines. The 33 and 35 were from the 1950s and the 5542 would have been from the early 1970s. The 1969 Ford truck with the 16-foot box is still in my shed; I don't think I can unload my John Deere s670 in it.

"The Oliver was probably as good as any other combine of the time. Maybe I poorly explained that a combine of that time would take all day to do what today's combines can do in an hour.

"Your article caught my eye because these were things I remember from my youth. Back in the early 1970s, wheat in Kansas went to $5.00/bushel, and thus this situation made a great demand for farm machinery."

Gene Schlegel

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"Russ: Was just reading your column on combines. I think the Ford 630/640 combines where made by Claas from Germany, our neighbor had one back in the 1960s/1970s time frame.

"The Oliver numbers especially the 535 and also 7300 are exactly the same numbers as was on Cockshutt combines that were manufactured in Branford, Ontario, Canada, so I'm wondering if Cockshutt made them for Oliver. I'm not sure what year White bought both of these companies.

"Oliver tractors sold in Canada had the name Cockshutt on them in the 1960s. And were painted a cream color. Our neighbor bought a new 1800 and made the dealer paint it Oliver green. A few years later, he bought a 1600 and left it the cream color.

"One other note, the combine plant at Brantford, Ontario, was very close to a combine plant that made Massey Ferguson combines. I can't remember what year but I think in the late '70s or early '80s both of these plants closed. I'm sure if you google Brantford, Ontario, it will give the history of these plants."

Phil Richards

Dresden, Ontario, Canada

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"Russ: Just thought I'd drop you a note.

"When I was growing up my dad purchased a new 1967 Oliver 535 combine. It was green, had a cab with heat but no A/C, inline 6-cylinder gas engine, 2-row corn head and 13' grain platform.

"In 1972 he traded it in for an Oliver 7600, which was a 4-row machine with a cab with heat but no A/C and a Chrysler V-8 engine with two straight pipes that drank gas by the gallon. I got the joy of running both of those machines when I was home from college."

Farm boy from eastern Iowa and still farming

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Thanks to all three folks for sending me their memories of Oliver and Ford combines. I have no experience with either manufacturer so it was interesting to read other peoples' tales about these vintage machines.

Phil brought up an interesting aspect with Cockshutt, especially with their history of badging tractors with another name. Since they had no sales network in the U.S., they would sell their tractors under another name.

In the 1940s, Cockshutt tractor were sold as Co-op tractors in the U.S. The Cockshutt 30, 40 and 50 were sold as the Co-op E-3, E-4 and E-5 south of the border.

According to the Cockshutt Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/…), the firm was taken over by a company in 1958, which would become the White Motor Company. This same company bought Oliver Corporation in 1960 and Minneapolis-Moline in 1963.

In early 1962, White closed the Brantford plant but continued to sell Cockshutt tractors to take advantage of brand loyalty. From 1964 to 1969, the 50 series Cockshutt were identical to Oliver tractors of the same model number.

It did not mention anything about combines on the page. I would not be surprised to learn if they had some sort of agreement on the combine side.

If you would like to send me anymore thoughts about Oliver or Ford combines, please feel free as we can run them in next month's column. I certainly know a lot more about these combines now than I did a month ago.

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com