Webber, Buddy. "Cover Picture: Buddy Webber's OC-6." Hart-Parr/Oliver Collector Magazine. Volume no. X, Issue no. 5, September/October, 1999, pages 22-23.
In the Spring of 1996, I became a member of an antique tractor club and soon began attending the various shows in central and south Texas. After a few months, searching all the shows along with checking out the classifieds in three tractor magazines, I finally found a tractor I felt was worthy of all the time and money it would take to restore it. It was a fairly rare model of the most popular of the Brand X's. The restoration required about a year, and while I was pleased with the restoration, I was not happy with the tractor. It was just not what I wanted.
I mentioned to a fellow collector that I was disappointed in not having seen a dozen Olivers in all the shows I had attended over the past year. I further confided that my interest was in Olivers and Cletracs, and it was my intention to become a Hart-Parr/Oliver club member. He looked at me in amazement and replied, "You've got to be joking!" He went on to say "Those Oliver guys are plumb crazy and they have absolutely no regard for any other tractor. Why, most of 'em won't even talk about other tractors and one bunch of 'em even call themselves the Oliver Gang--Can you imagine that?" That conversation was over two years ago. I thought it was funny then and I think it's funnier now. Since that time, I have attended two HPOCA National shows and have met hundreds of Oliver fans, and I'm convinced that that guy doesn't know how close he came to the truth.
The first of my Oliver collection was two OC-3's which my brother had located in a Florida orange grove. I hustled them back to Texas and had started dismantling one of them when it came show time again. It was at this show in Temple, TX, that I first laid covetous eyes on an OC-6. I stood and marveled at its graceful lines and styling, especially for a crawler. It was forty years old but still looked as modern as when it was built, which seems to be in keeping with all Oliver models and is a tribute to their designers.
On learning that this particular OC-6 was for sale, I approached the owner as to his price. His answer gave me an acute case of the hiccups, so I thought I should best let it cool for awhile. During this cooling off period, I received a copy of my favorite media, the HPOCA magazine, which featured a two-page ad concerning an Oliver auction in Durham, Kansas. I scanned through it and, to my surprise, here was an OC-6 available within a thousand miles. I called the owner, Mr. Ben Goertz, who invited me to come try it out. In the next few days I flew up to Kansas and found myself sitting in the seat of an OC-6 for the first time. It was a cold, drizzly morning and the pre-heater on the diesel engine was not working, but that was of no concern; the engine burst into life on the first rotation. After driving it around in a muddy, vacant lot for awhile, I parked it with the determination that I was going to have that tractor.
After arriving back home, I called Aumann Auctions to arrange for a telephone or absentee bid. Their reply was "No problem as long as certified funds are in hand one day prior to the sale." My dilemma now was how much to bid? While in Durham, I asked Mr. Goertz and the Garrett brothers, who are Oliver collectors from nearby Herington, KS, as to what the OC-6 might bring at auction. The consensus was that it should bring about $3500. With this information, I submitted a bid of $4500, to be on the safe side, and sent it to Aumann's by overnight express.
In the late evening of April 18, 1998, the day of the auction, I received a phone call from Rowe Garrett who had attended the auction and had jotted down all sucessful bids. The prices that some of the tractors and other items brought were almost unbelievable. However, I was overjoyed for two reasons. Firstly, because I had my OC-6 and at a fair price of $3500 and, secondly, because the sale had been very successful for the Goertz family. Mr. Goertz had told me that the proceeds would be going to his grandchildren's education. I can't think of a nicer or more fitting gift, and I'm happy to have been a part of it.
After a few weeks, I had my new toy back home and was already tired of playing with it, mainly because it would only turn to the right with ease. Turning to the left required a lot of effort, so it was time to open her up and start serious restoration.
The restoration itself was straightforward and therefore uninteresting. So, for the sake of brevity, I will omit the minor details.
Mechanically, the tractor was surprisingly sound and had obviously been more abused than used. The undercarriange was 95%. The drivers had little wear and the rollers were tight with no lateral play. A diesel mechanic checked out the engine and injector pump and advised me not to touch it. Cosmetic preparation consisted of sandblasting the undercarriage, chassis and all body parts. The engine was first cleaned by hot water blasting and any paint or grease left was removed with HD oven cleaner.
As can be seen, the mechanical restoration was not that difficult and mainly consisted of installing new or used parts. For example, the following parts were either replaced from wear or damage or were missing altogether: radiator, box seat, hood, dash, PTO and guard, lights and brackets, generator, battery plaltform and brackets, all engine control linkages, steering clutches, transmission cover, fuel pump, wiring harness, all instruments and switches, engine curtains, fenders, muffler and exhaust.
The cosmetics were fairly straightforward as well, with the only difficult part being the hood. For some reason, the original hood had been cut off behind the fuel filler cap. Landis Zimmerman scrounged up another hood for me that had some damage, but on the opposite end. Therefore, a new hood was reconstructed from the two. This work was done by a body man and, except for the seat upholstering, was the only outside work required in the restoration. The finish coating used was standard, lead based, highway yellow paint from Caterpillar. The equipment used for spray painting was a TIP, HVLP turbo.
Most all of the parts used were obtained from Landis Zimmerman, and I have to express my gratitude and appreciation for his vast store of parts and knowledge and his willingness to assist collectors.
Our local UPS driver is a woman, and, during the last months of restoration, she became as familiar a sight on the farm as my wife. Being obviously weary of handling all those "darn boxes," she asked "Wouldn't it be easier if you just went out and bought a tractor instead of trying to build one out of parts?" I thought, "Yeah, maybe she's right, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun!"
Below are pictures Buddy took during the restoration process.