For Ron Oser, 67, this particular Farmall tractor is more than a vintage piece of farm equipment to display at county fairs or "classic" tractor shows.
LAWRENCE TWP. The gift that Tim Oser gave to his father is best appreciated by those who remember life on the family farm a half century ago.
Late last October, Oser borrowed his father's 1954 Farmall Super M MTA tractor on the pretext of needing it for his job. Over the next few weeks, he packed up two shelves worth of new parts from a storage building. He then took the tractor and all of those replacement parts to Mt. Hope Tractor, to have the first new tractor from the old family farm rebuilt and reconditioned as a birthday present.
For Ron Oser, 67, this particular Farmall tractor is more than a vintage piece of farm equipment to display at county fairs or "classic" tractor shows. It was his father's pride and joy, and for years it was the primary reason he was able to support a family that included six children as a grain and dairy farmer in northwest Stark County.
So when Tim presented the just-like-new Farmall to him last month, it was much more than your run-of-the-mill belated present.
"For me, it's so personal because I spent a lot of time on that tractor growing up," Ron Oser said. "That was our main thing, that tractor. That was (Ron's father's) moneymaker, he always said."
"I was just flabbergasted to tell the truth," Ron Oser said. "It caught me completely off guard. It was a shocker. I couldn't believe he did it."
Ron Oser recalled how that tractor was the most advanced farm tractor of its day some six decades ago. It was the mightiest one around and when someone found themselves in trouble, they called the Osers to bail them out.
"I remember when that was the biggest tractor in the entire neighborhood," Ron Oser said. "If anybody got stuck or anything, we had to go pull them out. The neighbors would call you if they got stuck in the field or wherever and you had to go over there and pull them out."
Ron Oser worked for the Timken Co. in Canton for 35 years before retiring, all the while continuing to work the 800-acre family farm. And while that old Farmall would eventually be used less and less as larger, more efficient machines became available, it remained a fixture on the Oser farm.
"They really, really used it and it got a lot of use and abuse over a lot of years," Tim Oser said. "Dad always wanted to restore the tractor ... he had collected pieces parts to restore it over the years. But I knew he probably wouldn't get around to it.
"I tried to get it done for his birthday and it didn't work out. Then we tried to get it done for Christmas and it didn't work out. The funny thing is he never realized it was missing. Although at one point I think he thought it got stolen. He did ask me one time, 'Hey, do you got my tractor?' I told him I was using it."
When Tim finally got the word that the work was done on the old tractor, he fabricated a story for his father's benefit, telling him about a new tractor that he was going to buy. Tim told his dad he wanted him to look at it before committing to the purchase.
So Ron and his wife, Jeannie, jumped in their car and Tim drove separately to Mt. Hope Tractor. On the drive down, Ron mentioned to his wife how maybe he should inquire about how much it would cost to get the old Farmall tractor rebuilt, still clueless about surprised that awaited him.
Father and son walked together from the parking lot right past the old family Farmall tractor, now looking as clean as anyone could imagine, briefly stopping to admire the machine.
"I was just going to let him look at it for awhile but I had a hard time holding out, so I just asked him if it looked familiar, and he said, 'No,'" Tim Oser said.
"So we just kind of walked in and I thought the guys from Mt. Hope Tractor would be there but they just kind of let us do our own thing. So finally we just told him it was his (tractor). He didn't react right away. He kind of just took it all in for awhile."
"Timmy kind of pulled one on me," Ron Oser said with a chuckle.
The family's old Farmall Super M nearly slipped away from Ron Oser years ago, when his ailing father put the farm and all of the equipment up for auction. He recalled how he bid on the tractor but lost out to a Dalton-area farmer, who took it home immediately after winning the bidding. A few days later, that farmer brought the tractor back, dissatisfied with something, and got his money back. At that point, Ron's father offered it to him at no cost.
"Now he's too afraid to use it," Tim Oser said. "He always told me he was going to give it to me because we obviously wanted to keep it in the family. But prior to (having it rebuilt) we didn't use it much. We'd use it on the farm for some little stuff, like pulling around wagons. But that tractor is kind of outdated. And now that he has it back, he is afraid to use it. He doesn't want to get it dusty."
Tim Oser says the old family Farmall is now "absolutely immaculate" and his father isn't about to disagree.
"I'd like to use it a little bit but I'm going to see that it doesn't get scratched or anything if I can help it," Ron Oser said. "These are more collector tractors these days. Guys are still running them every day, don't get me wrong. But when you paint them up like this one, it is more for looks than using them every day.
"I could use it every day, there isn't anything wrong with this tractor. It's probably in better shape than it ever was after they got done with it. I might put it in a parade or take it to the fair or something. I'm not much for just hauling it around just so people could look at it."
Tim Oser said the "before" and "after" pictures of the 63-year old tractor highlight the quality of workmanship at Mt. Hope Tractor.
"It was used and abused and in really bad shape but the folks down there at Mt. Hope really did an excellent job," he said. "It looks probably better than new. ... I've seen a lot of restored tractors at fairs and this one is by far the nicest one I have ever seen."
It certainly brought back a flood of memories for Ron Oser.
"I just wish my dad could see it," he said wistfully. "That was always his favorite tractor."