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Published May 18 2012

Tractor hobby ‘out of hand’

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – Gary Biewer admits his love for tractors is “a hobby that got out of hand.”

The Barnesville resident collects antique tractors and runs a tractor salvage business, but his passion doesn’t end there.

“I got the disease so bad I named all my kids after tractors,” said Biewer, a father of five. Their names: Dane, Avery, Emerson, Rumely and Coleman.

Biewer’s interest in tractors was sparked as a young child, when he and his dad began collecting and working on tractors together.

Biewer’s personal collection now encompasses nearly 70 tractors, including some that are a century old.

“I like the real old stuff,” Biewer said. “The old stuff is a lot more challenging, a lot tougher to find.”

It’s a contrast to what Biewer sees daily at his business, Biewer Tractor Salvage, which he started 23 years ago.

Biewer runs a salvage operation, and also buys and sells complete tractors and other equipment.

Tractors at his shop are typically “more modern” than what he might collect at home, Biewer said.

“It’s a lot of ’50s-, ’60s- and ’70s-type tractors coming in,” he said.

To honor his children, Biewer has sought to collect their namesake tractors for them, but it hasn’t been an easy process.

Biewer’s first child, Dane, is named after the predecessor to John Deere tractors.

“There’s only two of them known to exist, so I put myself in a bind on that one,” Biewer said with a laugh.

So instead of finding one to collect, Biewer is building one from scratch for his son to have.

“It’s projects like that that you appreciate when you get it done,” Biewer said. “It’s a lot more time-consuming when you start from scratch, but it’s a lot more rewarding, too.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541