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Farmer brings old tractors back to life

For northeast Missouri farmer Mike Schantz, working with tractors is something he’s done almost all his life.

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years,” he says.

Schantz worked at a farm machinery dealership for 42 years and has worked on restoring old tractors for years as well. He is now retired from his job at the dealership, but he still works on tractors at his Luray farm in Clark County, Missouri.

“I got into restoring tractors 40 years ago, just to spruce them up,” Schantz says.

That side business grew to include full restorations and a variety of work on tractors.

Schantz jokes, “I call it retirement,” but he still works on tractors and raises cattle on his farm. He also people asking him to work on their old tractors.

“I’ve got a waiting list, about a two-year waiting list,” he says.

He says word of mouth is how people hear about what he does and get in touch with him.

Schantz says it is a joy to get to take an old tractor that is not in good shape and get it looking and running nice.

“I like taking something that’s hideous and making it look good,” he says.

For Schantz, it is also special to see the reactions and emotions when people see their old family tractor running and looking good.

“A lot of farm tractors, for people it was their dad’s or grandpa’s,” he says.

It is rewarding to fix up tractors so future generations can use them, including tractors on his own farm. Schantz has two kids and three grandkids. He has a couple of old John Deere B tractors on his farm that have been part of his family for generations.

“When I was 10 years old, I mowed hay with that,” he says. “We’ve still got it.”

During his four decades at the dealership and working on tractors, Schantz says he saw a wide range of tractors and witnessed the dramatic technological advancements in tractors during that period.

“I was fortunate enough to work on pretty simple tractors back in the day and stick with it long enough to work with some pretty complicated tractors,” he says.

His favorites are the older tractors, and that’s what he works on now for people.

“I’m not that modern of a person, I guess,” he says.

Schantz says his favorite tractor is a John Deere 4020, a popular tractor that is about the same age as him. He is currently working on some of them.

“They still work, just like we do,” he says.

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