By Samantha Norman
“It’s interesting…every tractor has a story, that’s the neatest part. You have to listen to their story,” said Mike Schantz of Luray, who has been restoring tractors for over 30 years.
“I do probably 13 tractors a year…any color. Mostly older tractors is what I try to do.” he says.
His projects can take anywhere up to six months to complete, with stripping down the tractor, re-priming and repainting it, and getting new parts and then replacing those parts. Mike’s brother Steve, his son Kellen, and his daughter, Glenna, all help out with work on the tractors as well.
Schantz got into restoring tractors many years ago when he needed extra money, but then the business started to grow. There was a need for his service and he took the challenge, but he keeps doing it mostly because he enjoys it.
He does most of his restorations for people throughout the tri-state area, and a lot of the people he restores tractors for are older, maybe wanting a tractor restored from their younger years. Many of the tractors he works on have been in families for several generations, but some are from people who are just getting into older models. Regardless of how it got to him, Mike said that one of the most important parts of the job is getting each tractor’s story.
He likes reviving the older tractors and keeping the history that comes with them alive.
Schantz explained that he keeps restoring tractors to improve, not just to repair a product, and to make each project better than the last. He also said that the most rewarding aspect of restoration is seeing the final product and making people feel proud of their tractor.
“I guess what you like the most about it is taking something that looks horrible, you know, and it comes out shining like a new diamond. Some of the tractors that I have in there haven’t been run for 10 years, and you take that old bucket of rust and turn it into something that the guy can be happy with, and take it and show it off,” he said.
A photo of a tractor that Mike Schantz restored was one of just forty that were picked from over 1800 entries to be featured in the 2019 Steiner Catalog. The catalog, where people can order parts for restoring tractors, is sent out all over the United States, and even internationally, Schantz explained. Steiner Tractor Parts Inc., who puts out the catalog and hosted the contest, boasts over 6000 products used for restoring tractors. Their Facebook page, which has over 46,000 likes, says, “We sell new parts for antique tractors. We are dedicated to preserving our agricultural heritage by helping customers find obsolete parts for their old iron restorations.”
It is no surprise that Schantz’s restoration was chosen, seeing that tractors Schantz has restored have won best of show at the Davis County Fair for the last four years.
The photo that will go in the catalog of the tractor that Mike Schantz restored can be found at steinertractor.com/tractor-photo-winners along with the other winning restorations.