‘Every one of the tractors has a story to tell’
By Scott Thoma
Raymon Luschen first drove a tractor on his father’s farm when he was seven years old. He’s been in love with tractors ever since.
In fact, while some hobbyists collect tractors of 1/16th or 1/32nd scale models, Luschen collects the real things. To his credit, he has 10 restored John Deere tractors in a pole barn at the farm he and his wife Maryanne live on south of Benson.
“He really enjoys working on tractors and fixing them up,” said Maryanne. “These are his toys.”
Three of the 10 restored tractors once belonged to his father, who farmed the land next to where Raymon and Maryanne now live. Raymon was born in Montevideo and was three years old when his family moved to Benson.
Among the 10 tractors in his collection are a 1938 John Deere A which holds special meaning to Luschen, as that was the year he was born.
“It has the old hand crank to start it up,” Raymond, 82, noted. “Every one of the tractors has a story to tell. When the grandkids drive them, some of them are the same tractor their great grandpa drove.”
Raymon and Maryanne have three children, Tammy, Martin and Troy. They also have 10 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
The other fully-restored tractors in his collection include three 1941 John Deere Bs, a 1943 John Deere H, a 1950 (dual wheeled), ‘51 and ‘52 John Deere A; a 1956 John Deere Model 50, and a 1967 John Deere 3020 Diesel.
The latter is Luschen’s favorite because it was the last tractor his father bought.
Over the years, some of the tractors he has restored have appeared in tractor shows around the area.
“I’ve been fixing and restoring old tractors for as long as I can remember,” the personable Luschen said. “I learned how to repair tractors from my father. There’s always something to fix growing up on a farm.”
When Luschens’s family recently requested that he take all 10 of the tractors out of storage in his pole barn in order for them to take photos, the green and yellow paint shone brightly in the sun. The tractors were aligned in chronological order.
Luschen’s grandson, Nathan Noel of Montevideo, looked at the lined up tractors and asked his grandfather “What do you think of all this?” Luschen smiled proudly and simply said “A lot of memories.”
Luschen farmed from 1973-93 before retiring and going to work for Case IH in Benson, working on an assembly line that built Patriot sprayers from 1993-2015.
He now devotes his time on the farm to restoring tractors for others, or repairing any from his collection.
Luschen has always had a love for John Deer tractors because that’s all his father had on the farm while growing up. And he has passed his affection for the green and yellow tractors to his kids, grandkids and great grandkids.
“(Raymon) always told our son Troy that red tractors were bad and green tractors were good,” Maryanne said, laughing.
Besides those tractors he inherited, Luschen purchased some others that were no longer being used because of engine trouble or some other reason. He rescued the idle tractors and began the restoration project on them at his farm.
Another tractor he acquired was one he was fixing up for a neighbor, but when it started running into a lot of money, the neighbor gave the tractor to Luschen.
Luschen replaces parts, repaints them, and even orders new decals and affixes them in their proper place on the tractor. The finished product looks like the tractor is still sitting on an implement dealer’s lot waiting to be sold.
“If you do a good enough job, they look brand new,” he said. “I’ve had some help on some things from a body shop man and some help with painting the bodies. Besides the 10 that I have, I’ve probably restored 10 or 12 others for friends or neighbors.”
Luschen also has collected a few John Deere toy tractors, as well as some other John Deere items.
“They have all kinds of John Deere collector items in the house,” said their daughter, Tammy Heinzman. “Dad has a painted John Deere work bench that his land renters made for him, too.”
But his real toy collection is tucked away in his pole barn.