It was about 60 years ago when Morris Endres went to his neighbor’s farm equipment auction and bought a model 1935 Case C tractor for $500. It had previously been purchased new off the showroom floor from the local dealership in Hartford, Wis.
“He was the second owner and needed that machine outfitted with a rear PTO to improve versatility, boost horsepower and operate the Gehl silo filler on his 100-acre farm,” says Morris’s grandson Michael Endres. “When his wife, Viola, saw it coming down the driveway she exclaimed, ‘Who is the kook driving that old tractor?’ and was rather shocked it was her husband.”
The C was immediately used to plow, pull wagons, and chop hay and corn. Morris teamed the machine with a model 1946 John Deere AWH High Crop tractor. However, a year later, he sold all of his equipment, and the C was purchased by Del Boyer, who had a masonry and construction business.
Over the next 29 years, the C was started occasionally but always remained in the shed. In 2019, it was sold at auction for the third time. Ironically, Michael was the only bidder and paid $500 to keep the tractor in the family.
This standard-tread tractor was manufactured in Racine, Wis., from 1929 to 1940. During that time frame, a total of 20,478 machines came off the assembly line. The cost in 1930 was $600. Features included manual steering, open operator station, three forward and one reverse gear, dry disc clutch, wide front end, 15-gallon fuel tank, fenders, 4x2 2-wheel-drive chassis, 27 hp on the belt, 17 hp on the drawbar and a J.I. Case 4.3-liter, 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled, vertical I-head gasoline engine.
“Actually, I knew very little about the tractor but grinned from ear to ear after taking hold of the steering wheel for the first time,” Michael says. “The tires were low and had dry rot, but there were no visible leaks anywhere. Since it’s powered by the magneto, I pulled the choke and turned the hand crank a couple of times. It started right off, and there wasn’t any black smoke belching from the exhaust pipe.”
Removing the tractor from the old shed was a challenge because some of the floorboards broke while loading the 4,300-pound machine. And with a 66-inch wheel-base and poor condition of the tires, the tractor wanted to slide off the 15-foot trailer.
So far, Michael, who assembles car component parts for GHI in Hartford, Wis., has purchased two new rear tires, which match the original ones, for $500. There are some dents in the hood and rear fenders, but he says they will be easy to repair. His next step is to cover the outer trim metal with Case gray paint.
“My plans are to collect some vintage equipment, like a 2-foot, 14-inch moldboard plow and disk from the 1930s when the tractor was manufactured, and drive it in parades and attend shows around the area,” he says. “I always wanted to have something that went back to the farming days of my grandfather and father, and the Case C fulfills my dream. It’s remarkable this tractor stayed in this area and is near the land they worked on.”
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.