Wally Geilfuss has restored more than 20 tractors to their full gloryOn a beautiful fall day, a long row of antique tractors gleamed in the sun. They belonged to Wally Geilfuss in Prairie Grove, Ark., who moved from Wisconsin to Arkansas in 1996. Wally said, “I’ve been around tractors my whole life, and on a farm you’re always working on the tractors.” Wally’s story is how rural land acquisition for modernization eventually landed him in Arkansas.
Wally worked and raised his family in Wisconsin. He worked for a construction company that built roads all over the Midwest. He had a serious heart issue and trained a replacement for a year after surgery. He likes to say that he got in his car and drove south with a snow shovel on top of the car, and when somebody asked what that was, he figured he was far enough south.
The truth is he visited two guys in Arkansas who had worked for him in Wisconsin. Wally said, “Arkansas looks a lot like Wisconsin but without the cold weather.” While there he explained to his hosts that he wanted to live near a lake so they took him past Bob Kidd Lake in Prairie Grove. On their way back, they passed a house with a for sale sign. He could see the high, man-made bank of the lake from the house; he stopped and bought the house. Soon afterward he built a machine shop and a covered storage area. Then he bought a 1964 unibody Ford pickup to restore. However, his love of old tractors kicked in and the old Ford is still unfinished. Wally said, “I don’t like to see an old tractor become junk. I like to see them run the way they’re supposed to. Once I started, they just kept on coming.”
Wally admits that restoring tractors is an expensive proposition. Wally has a variety of tractors including a 1945 Case “Vac” model, a 1946 Farmall B and three John Deeres. Wally said, “I don’t just give them a paint job. I go through them and fix what’s wrong and then paint them. The big cost is not the tractor but the fixing.”
Wally finds his tractors by hunting on the computer, watching ads and by word-of-mouth. He explained that most parts are available but costly, especially tires. He sometimes fabricates his own parts when planning to participate in competition pulls. Wally is a member of the Rustic Relics club in Morrow, Ark., which hosts two tractor pulls a year. He also participates in the Benton and Washington County fairs.
Wally currently owns 22 tractors and one he recently gave to his grandson, Nathan Seifert, who moved to Arkansas a little less than two years ago for better job opportunities. Nathan now works for Polytech Molding, Inc., in Prairie Grove, which manufactures plastic parts for a variety of uses such as medical and military equipment. Because Arkansas has become home, Nathan is considering going to school to study computer assisted manufacturing.
Wally explained that he gave Nathan a 1950 Farmall Super A tractor so he’d have his own to work on and learn from. “Ain’t no sense sitting around. Time to get with it.” Nathan enjoys working on the tractors but admits he has a lot to learn. He thinks being willing to spend a lot of time and reading manuals helps, but the main key is to have a mentor like his grandpa to teach him.
Grandfather and grandson also share a love of fishing and spend time on Bob Kidd Lake fishing throughout the seasons and enjoying the distinctiveness of each one. Nathan said, “Arkansas is really beautiful and I love the people. About the only thing I miss is ice fishing.”


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