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My Favorite Tractor: Derek Griep is the fourth generation to operate the tractor.

Harlen Persinger

March 21, 2024

2 Min Read
Derek Griep from Rubicon, Wis., standing next to his 1967 Oliver 1550 tractor
GIVING IT THE WORKS: Beginning in 2012, Derek Griep rebuilt the Oliver 1550’s motor, adding new pistons, rings, PTO seals, decals and a seat. By 2017, the tractor was sandblasted and repainted. HARLEN PERSINGER

Derek Griep from Rubicon, Wis., is the fourth generation in his family to operate a 1967 model Oliver 1550 tractor. His great-grandfather Slyvan Becker, who farmed in nearby Hartford, Wis., was the second owner and purchased the machine in 1969. He needed more horsepower and a three-point hitch, so he used the tractor for plowing, on the haybine, and for chopping and baling.

“After its association with one generation, the 1550 was passed to my grandfather Curtis Becker,” Griep says. “He teamed it with a Massey-Harris 444 and used it for raking hay, mixing feed, pulling wagons and handling other utility chores. When I got the tractor in 2008, there were 8,000 hours on the tachometer. It was truly worn-out and often overheated.”

Sprucing it up

Beginning in 2012, Griep rebuilt the motor, adding new pistons, rings, PTO seals, decals and a seat. By 2017, the 1550 was sandblasted and repainted.

The machine, part of the 50 Series row crop tractor, was manufactured by the Oliver Co. in Charles City, Iowa, between 1965 and 1969 at a cost of $6,000. The style ranged from a twin-cycle, single or adjustable wide front.

Features included six-speed unsynchronized gears, 12-speed partial power shift transmission, power-assist steering, disc brakes, open operator station or optional conventional cab, independent PTO, 27.5-gallon fuel tank, and a weight of 7,000 pounds. It had an Oliver 3.8-liter, six-cylinder gasoline or diesel engine with 45.7 hp on the drawbar and 53 hp on the PTO.

Today, Griep takes the tractor to the Baraboo Steam and Power Show, Richfield Threshree, Iron Ridge and St. Lawrence Fireman’s Parade, Rubicon antique tractor day and a field plowing event in Hartford. He also has a 1954 model WD 45 Allis-Chalmers.

“This is my grandfather’s workhorse, and I grew up riding on the fenders and then raked hay as a 10-year-old, so this is my favorite tractor,” Griep says. He works as a service technician for Gehring Sales and Service Inc. in Rubicon. “The 1550 offers good maneuverability, easy on and off, a tight turning radius, uniform weight for stability, excellent gearing for easy pulling tasks and is the perfect machine for handling plowing chores. I’m happy it is still in the family today.”

Persinger writes from Milwaukee. To have your favorite tractor featured, email or send in a photo of yourself with your tractor, along with a 300-word write-up about the tractor, to: [email protected] or Wisconsin Agriculturist, P.O. Box 236, Brandon, WI 53919.

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