Robert and Randy Williams, owners of the largest tractor in the world, the Big Bud 747 tractor, will be at the 35th annual KFYR Radio Agri International Trade Show at the Bismarck Civic Center Feb. 14-15.
While Big Bud won’t be with them, the brothers will have toy models of the tractor, along with other farm equipment toys there along with memorabilia of Big Bud, such as T-shirts and vests, that they will autograph at their booth.
“We are coming to the KFYR Agri-International as part of the Toy Show and will autograph the toy tractors, hats and shirts for customers,” Robert Williams said.
Robert said he and his brother own and operate a farm in Big Sandy, Mont.
He is currently in his shop fixing farm equipment for spring and working on spring seeding plans. The brothers grow 90 percent winter wheat and 10 percent spring wheat, Robert said. While they no longer use the Big Bud 16V-747 for farming, they do use other Big Bud tractors.
They are the third owners of Big Bud 16V-747, having purchased it in 1997 because they wanted a tractor that could pull an 80-foot cultivator and work the ground quickly. The tractor can work more than one acre per minute, at speeds up to 8 mph, he said.
“Big Bud could pull that cultivator easily, and we could get quite a lot of acres covered in one day,” Robert said, adding the tractor has nearly 1,000 horsepower. “The biggest thrill of driving it was getting through lots of acres quickly.”
Currently, Big Bud is on display at the Heartland Acres Agribition Center in Independence Iowa, he said.
“We don’t use Big Bud 747 anymore because we have been mostly no-till farming and have been seeding with an air seeder for the last three years,” Robert said.
While Big Bud 747 was used to pull a drill for seeding a few times, it was mostly used for cultivating the soil, he said. They farm in Choteau County in a region of Montana that receives only about 11 inches of rain annually, so they work the soil in the spring and fall, he added.
Originally, Big Bud 16V-747 was custom built by Ron Harmon and the crew of the Northern Manufacturing Company near Havre, Mont., for the Rossi brothers, cotton farmers in California in 1977. The Rossi brothers owned and operated Big Bud for 11 years, Robert said.
“When the Rossi brothers had it custom built, they told Ron they didn’t care what it cost, they wanted the largest tractor in the world,” he added.
The tractor uses a 16-cylinder Detroit Diesel engine, and is 27 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 14 feet tall. The tires were specially made by United Tire Company of Canada and are 8 feet in diameter. When the 1,000-gallon fuel tank is full, the tractor weighs more than 100,000 pounds, Robert said.
The Rossi Brothers then sold Big Bud to other cotton farmers in Florida, who also used it for deep ripping of compacted soil. Willowbrook Farms of Florida retired Big Bud after several years.
Robert said he knew the original builders of Big Bud since they work 60 miles away from where he and his brother farm. They were aware that it was retired, and worked with the owners to purchase it for $100,000.
They had the tractor brought up to Big Sandy on a couple of trucks. The Williams brothers used it on their farm up until about three years ago.
“Since then, some large farm shows have asked us to bring it down for display,” Robert said. “It costs quite a bit to transport it but we have taken it to a farm show in Illinois and now it is in Iowa.”
They expect to go down and get it soon and bring it back to Montana, where it will again be displayed at a farm show. When they had the tractor on their Big Sandy farm, some 200-300 people would come and see it in the summer. But Robert said some 30,000 people have seen it in Iowa over the last two years.
When the Williamses bought it in 1997, it had been repainted from its original white color to black. They worked on it to get it back to its original look, including its white color, Robert said.
“Our main purpose now is to have the Big Bud on display where as many people as want to see it can,” he said.
They hope folks stop by their booth at the Toy Show at the KFYR Agri-International and visit with them about Big Bud.
“The toy model looks just like the real thing,” Robert added.