Larry Buckles and his grandson Dirk Jennings work on the restoration of a Super C. Contributed Photo.
Larry Buckles and his grandson Dirk Jennings work on the restoration of a Super C. Contributed Photo.

Three generations have shared a love of tractors 

NEVADA, MO. – Larry Buckles of Nevada, Mo., remembers his favorite Farmall tractor. His story begins at the age of 5 learning to drive on his grandpa’s John Deere B. His dad, Emmett Buckles, had an F-20 Farmall, but he was too short to push the clutch. His dad bought a new A John Deere he drove a lot after he turned 7. Three generations worked together on the farm. 

They were dry years in 1953 and 1954 Because of the drought, his dad went to work on the Missouri Pacific Railroad in Nevada, Mo. He was working the summer of 1955, and dealing for a new 400 Farmall to replace his John Deere. A railroad flat car came through the railroad yards loaded with four 1954 Farmall Super MTAs. He found out they were going to the IH dealer in Harrisonville, Mo.

His dad and mom, Mary Buckles, drove there and purchased a new Farmall Super MTA (SMTA) that morning, trading in the John Deere. The IH dealer delivered the new tractor to the Vincent station in Nevada to have the fluid from the rear tires on the John Deere changed to the rear tires on the new SMTA. The dealership didn’t make it to Nevada until about 4:30p.m., so Emmett and Larry stayed until the fluid was transferred, anxious to get it on home. They left Nevada about 7 p.m. for the 20-mile trip home near Schell City. The country hills and curves were easy for the new Farmall. Each hill was met with a red glow from the silver muffler. Larry never forgot the awesome powerful sound and that glow. He was just 10 years old but fell in love with a tractor that he would end up growing up on.

Larry’s mom took a picture of his dad, sister, Nancy, and him on that tractor before it got dirty. Shortly after the photo, Emmett and Larry went to the field to plow for fall wheat. They attached a 3/14 Little Genius plow to the SMTA, but the ground was so hard the little plow kept tripping from the SMTA. Emmett had to tighten the springs on the hitch twice. The Super MTA had power enough to pull that plow seven inches deep in that old, hard ground in third gear at 5 mhp.

Larry Buckles of Nevada, Mo., remembers his favorite Farmall tractor. Contributed Photo.
Contributed Photo

By the time Larry was in high school, he drove the SMTA like a pro. With a good start and a long afternoon, he could plow 20 to 25 acres. When he was a sophomore in high school, he bought a C Farmall and drove it pulling a silage wagon beside dad while he cut silage. In hill fields with the wagon getting full of silage, his dad would drop the SMTA to low second so Larry could keep up with him. Larry traded the C Farmall for a 1954 Super H Farmall, the same gear speed as the SMTA. He could now stay even with his dad. During his senior year, he cut silage and filled silo’s while his dad was still working the railroad. 

Larry had a lot of fun with the tractor, using it for hayrides and pulling a home-built sled to play in the ice and snow, loaded with his high school friends. He graduated high school in 1963 in Walker and became a farmer with his dad. They bought his uncle’s Farmall M. The summer of 1966, they decided to buy a new Farmall because of the larger number of acres they now farmed and Larry was a substitute rural letter carrier at the Walker Post Office. The IH dealer brought them a Farmall 706. One round and Larry and Emmett decided that was the tractor they needed. A few weeks later Larry was drafted by the Army and served in Korea during the Vietnam War. When Larry returned home, he bought a Farmall 806. Later, he became a full-time rural letter carrier.

In the meantime, Larry married, had two daughters who grew up, married and gave him four grandsons. Those sons-in-law and grandsons developed a love for tractors, also. 

They have restored a 1957 Farmall 350, a 1954 Super C and a 1947 Farmall H. The first restoration project was the 350 Farmall. Larry heard of one being for sale near Fort Scott, Kan. The man had torn it down but died. His widow was selling everything. The picked it up in baskets and found everything for the tractor by sifting through the leaves except the bolts. He later found chrome ones in Webb City. However, Larry and his son-in-law, Daryl Jennings, had a terrible time loading the hull of the tractor because it still had fluid in the rear tires. After much effort, they got the tractor loaded and to Larry’s shop.

The Super C was also picked up in baskets at Schell City. Larry purchased it from Bob and Shirley Flake. Larry had quite a learning experience restoring it as he hadn’t worked on a rear end axle of a tractor by himself. He got the housing in wrong and the tractor would only go backwards! Larry had to completely redo his work even to taking off the deck and gas tank and turn the cluster of gears around. They were all pleased when that tractor ran the right direction. The grandsons enjoyed going with him to parades in the area. Grandson Dirk Jennings continues to show the tractor in a few parades and occasionally enters a tractor pull. 

Emmett passed away in 1978. Larry’s mail route turned in a 50-mile trek and developed into an eight-hour day. 

In 1990, his route became the longest in the state with 145 miles daily. He retired in 2000, gave up farming, and purchased a 1982 Farmall 686. 

He uses it to grade his driveway. However, to this day, he still wants a 1954 Farmall Super MTA as it remains his all-time favorite.


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