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Back When: 1958 Oliver 950 Standard

10 Sep 2023

You won’t find many larger Oliver collections than that of John A. Swanson of Rio, Illinois.

John saw the 950 listed on an Aumann Auction sale bill. He was always attracted to the Wheatland style Olivers since they are nearly unheard of in the flatlands that he called home in Illinois. In fact, the majority of his collection are the Standard Wheatland style Olivers.

This tractor was especially attractive to John since there were only 71 Oliver 950 Standard gas models produced between 1958 and 1961. The tractor was described on the auction bill as; in very good condition, burns a little oil, but runs good. It had a previous restoration at some time and needed a few minor things but otherwise it did not seem to be a bad tractor, so it would be a good buy if he had the winning bid.

John got the 950, and since the auction was in Hartford, Kansas, he hired a local trucking company in Hartford to deliver the tractor to a dealership in Monmouth, Illinois where he loaded it onto his trailer for the remainder of the trip.

To say the least, it burned a little oil! The first time plowing it used two quarts in about two hours, and it didn’t get any better. He took it home and parked it in his shed for about a year. John said, “ I think I was mad at it!!!” The following spring he took it to Dick Hopson’s Sales and Service in Raritan, Illinois, where he had all of his service work done. His hope was to do a simple valve job and be back up and running quick and cheap! Well, that was not in the cards; the deeper they went, the worse it got.

To start with the engine was the wrong block for that tractor. Someone had slapped together a basket of parts and called it an engine. The search for the correct block, sleeves and pistons was not going to be easy, quick or cheap. Dick was able to eventually locate the correct 302 block, new sleeves and pistons. The engine was overhauled, the head redone, and new valves and crankshaft were installed. When he was done, it was like having a brand new engine.

As with most hobbies it did not come cheap…John said, “Lets just say I have more invested in the engine than the price of the tractor and delivery.” He doubted he would have rebuilt it if it weren’t for the fact that it was a 950 Gas and so few were made and that the rest of the tractor was in very good condition. In March 2013, John took the 950 back home to South Bend, Indiana, where it was built and displayed it for a few days at the National Oliver Hart-Parr Convention held in South Bend.

According to the information John obtained from the build card on file at the Oliver Hart- Parr Museum in Charles City, Iowa. This 950 was built on May 16th of 1958, near the end of production at the South Bend plant before it was closed and production moved to Charles City, Iowa. The 950 was shipped to a Minneapolis, Minnesota dealer on May 28th, 1958.


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