Danny Anderson’s 1086: There’s only one “first one”

Aug. 31, 2023 • Interesting Iron

Danny Anderson's 1086 - The first 86-Series ever built!

…and Danny Anderson’s 1086 is that tractor.

Not only is it the first 1086 to ever roll out of Rock Island, it’s the very first 86-series tractor ever built. I think that’s pretty cool, and I think it’s historically significant, too. And next Tuesday, September 5th, you can buy it at an auction hosted by Nick Graves, a long-time Tractor Zoom auctioneer partner from Mazeppa, MN.

That’s not all you can buy, though. There’s a bunch of neat pieces of Harvester history on this sale. We’ll get into all that in a minute. For now, though, who’s Danny Anderson and why should you care?

Who’s Danny Anderson?

Glad you asked. Danny’s a pretty neat guy.

I’ve known Danny’s name for at least four or five years, but I’d never had the opportunity to meet him. That is, until yesterday morning when I picked up the phone and gave him a call about the auction.

He’s lived and breathed red tractors pretty much ever since he could walk. His first job out of high school? Turning wrenches for Joe Romberg’s IH dealership in Elkader, IA. In fact, he was the last IH employee to work on the first 1066 ever built! It was Danny’s neighbor’s tractor, and he gave it a once-over before it went across the auction block in 1981!

For close to two decades, Danny worked for red dealers in Iowa and Minnesota after he settled in Pine Island (just north of Rochester). In 1997, he bought an Arctic Cat dealership, but never lost the love of red tractors.

Dirt Boyz Proving Grounds Co.

When he sold the dealership in 2007, he started Dirt Boyz Proving Grounds Co., working out of his shop fixing machines, restoring old iron, and building the occasional hopped-up pulling tractor. He and his son also do a little dirt work here and there, hence the name.

Danny Anderson's Dirt Boyz shop truck
When he’s not busy working on customer projects, Danny builds some neat stuff for himself. This is his shop truck – a 1968 IH 1200 body sitting on a 1998 Dodge one-ton dually with a mechanical 5.9 Cummins and a 5-speed! This thing turns heads pretty much everywhere! (Photo: Danny Anderson)

All in all, he figures he’s restored about 435 tractors for customers all over the world. Lots of fairly standard stuff, but he’s restored some pretty cool pieces of agricultural history – a couple of which are on next week’s auction!

Danny Anderson's restored 7140 Prototype
A few years ago, Case IH asked Danny to restore this prototype articulating Magnum 7140 that never made it into production. I believe it’s currently on display at the Customer Experience Center in Racine, WI. Note: This is not on the auction! (Photo: Danny Anderson)

Danny and I could go into a much lengthier article about some of the other tractors and pieces of history that he owns or has had a hand in, but we agreed to save that for later. Next time he’s in Des Moines (or if I take a road trip up to the Proving Grounds), I suspect we’ll have lots to talk about!

For now, let’s talk about what’s on the auction. There’s some neat stuff on this one!

Nick Graves’ auction for Danny Anderson – Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Here’s a rundown of a few of the special tractors on this auction.

1086 #8601 – The first 86-Series ever built!

Danny Anderson's 1086 - the first one ever built!
Danny Anderson’s 1086 is serial number 8601 – the first 1086 ever built. More than that, though, it was the very first 86-Series tractor ever built! (Photo: Danny Anderson)

Whenever anybody thinks of International Harvester’s most iconic tractors, there’s a half-decent chance that the 1066 is the first one that comes to mind – not the 1086. The 86-Series tractors haven’t been as fondly-remembered as the 66s. Perhaps there’s a basis for that (there were a few notable design issues that haven’t aged well from an in-cab ergonomic perspective), but on the whole, those machines were good tractors.

They still have a lot going for them, in my opinion. They were the first red tractor ever designed with a cab in mind, and honestly, it’s a pretty good cab. Good visibility, reasonably comfortable, and you could get ’em with heat and A/C. They’ve also got a short wheelbase, so they’re pretty handy things. Honestly, I’ll bet that there are more 86s earning their keep on farms today than there are 66s – for all of the reasons I just mentioned.

Show Pony

This particular tractor started life as something of a show pony. If you were to go back and look at Harvester’s advertising brochures and marketing stuff, this is the tractor that they used for the photos taken at Hickory Hill Farm. I’m sure that it made the rounds at the farm shows during the summer of 1976, too.

However, after they were done with it, it did end up going to a farmer. Danny suspects that it farmed somewhere in Iowa near the Quad Cities, until it was traded in to Kunau Implement in Dewitt, IA. Kunau sold it to another farmer in eastern Iowa who had it until he retired. In February of 2009, it turned up on Dague Equipment’s lot in Maquoketa, IA.

Ironically, he was on the Red Power internet message board just an hour or two after somebody posted that they’d seen the tractor at the dealership and that it was going up for sale. He said, “I dialed them up at 630AM the next morning and waited until I could talk to the sales manager and claim it!” I don’t know if he was the first in line or not, but Danny did end up getting that tractor bought. Later on, he found out that there was at least one other guy interested in it. He was going to put it on a TMR mixer!

Recent life

Danny Anderson's 1086 during harvest 2018
Once the 10 was home, it was treated to a nice restoration, but it didn’t automatically become the show pony that it was when IH initially built it. It worked on the farm a little until Danny rented his ground out a few years ago! (Photo: Danny Anderson)

Lately, the 10 has seen more tractor show duty than farm work; you may have seen it at the Half Century of Progress in Rantoul, IL last week!

Right now, it’s got just under 6100 original hours on it, and it runs like a Swiss watch. Danny replaced the water pump this past March and gave it the full once-over with fresh fluids (HyTran and IH 30W #1) and filters. At the end of the day, it’s as nice as 1086 as you’ll ever find. It’s just that this one is a little more special…it’s the very first one. All the rest are copies!

886 #8602 – The second 886 ever built!

Danny Anderson's 886 Harvest 2018
We used to have an 886 on our farm, but it wasn’t as nice as this one when we traded it in on an 885 MFWD! (Photo: Danny Anderson)

This 886 (serial number 8602, making it the second 886 built) rolled off the line on April 14, 1976, just five days after its big brother! It’s got just over 5900 hours on it, and Danny said he’s had it for about five years now. The motor has also been overhauled and the tractor’s had a few things replaced on it, but aside from that and painting the roof, it’s about as original as can be!

It’s pretty neat to think that these two 86s were built basically at the same time, then separated for over four decades, and then brought back together! Hopefully they end up going home with the same buyer!

The Prototype 1206s

Danny Anderson's prototype IH 1206s
I know what you’re thinking…they look weird without white wheels. I think so too. (Photo: Danny Anderson)

The 1206 went into regular production in October of 1965. However, a few months prior, there were a fleet of a dozen (we think) pre-production prototype tractors built in June or early July to be used at Harvester’s facility in Hinsdale, IL. Where the regular production serial numbers began with #7501, these began at #501. At any rate, when IH was finished with them, some of these units ended up being offered to dealers to sell without any warranty.

These are two of only five or six known to still exist.

Danny Anderson's Prototype 1206 #508
This tractor, serial #508, is the one that Danny restored for himself. It’s rather unique, too; it’s a bareback model – no 3-point, and other than a T/A, no hydraulics. (Photo: Danny Anderson)

In several cases, the tractors (or parts of them) were located in boneyards or dragged off the fencerow. I don’t believe any of them were found as complete running units. Danny used documentation from the engineering department in Hinsdale to guide him when restoring these units. They’re fairly close to final production units, but there are a few differences. The obvious ones are the red wheels – and for the narrow front on the right, the 806-ish paint scheme.

Danny Anderson's 1206 prototype #505
Danny restored this prototype 1206 for a good friend’s 50th birthday. Heck of a present, huh? (Photo: Danny Anderson)

This pair of prototypes have spent a lot of time together over the past few years. So, Danny and his friend Bruce have decided to list them together. I suspect they could go to the same collection when the auction ends next Tuesday. I mean, it seems fitting, doesn’t it?

But wait…there’s more!

There’s a bunch of other goodies on this sale too; a very rowdy ProFarm pulling tractor wearing WD-9 sheet metal, a rolling chassis or three, an utterly gorgeous Scout II with 80,000 original miles on it, some dealership memorabilia, die cast, and more! Heck, there’s even an old M&W PTO dyno and an 88-Series load cell tractor! If I covered it all, this article would be twenty pages long and you’d never read all the way through it!

So why is he selling this stuff if it’s so cool?

Before we signed off on the phone the other day, Danny said, “Do me one favor in the article, would ya? Would you make sure you stress that I’m not broke, I’m not getting a divorce, and I’m not dying?”

I laughed, and said, “Absolutely. I’ll make it crystal clear!”

So here goes.

  1. Danny isn’t broke.
  2. Danny isn’t getting a divorce.
  3. Danny isn’t dying.

Hopefully that makes it clear.

At the end of the day, here’s the reason why he’s parting with some of these toys.

He needs the space. He and his son have expanded their operation a little, which meant losing cold storage where the projects and tractors were once stored. Danny wasn’t keen on having to store the tractors in the elements; Minnesota weather is pretty brutal.

More than that, though, he doesn’t need them anymore. Part of the fun for Danny was the hunt and the restoration process, and the people he’s met along the way. Those tractors started some tremendous friendships that will last the rest of his life. In his words, “It’s time that somebody else gets to share those tractors and start new friendships of their own!”

And he’s totally right, too. I’ve seen and felt that in my own life since I got so heavily involved with tractor pulling. I’ve met some of the closest friends and family I have through that sport. At the end of the day…if the camera went away tomorrow, I’d miss it, but the relationships will always be there!

Plus, remember what I wrote earlier? He ain’t dead yet. Furthermore, if you’ve ever met Danny…you know he’s still got pet projects he’s working on! (I know what one of those projects is; it’ll get its own Interesting Iron article sometime down the road!)

Wrapping up…

It seems like a lot of times, when collectors have auctions like this, people tend to automatically assume the worst.

I know there were people who were concerned for Gary Peterson when he sent his collection of open station John Deere tractors home with new owners last fall. But like Gary told me, “Y’know Ryan…at the end of the day, it’s just stuff; when they’re gone, I might miss them once in a while. But through the whole process, it wasn’t the tractors that I cherished the most. It was the friends that I met and the relationships created that mean the most to me – and that’s how it’ll always be.”

That’s how it is with Danny. The best parts of the stuff he’s selling aren’t the machines. For him, it’s the experiences, the history, and the friendships he’s made along the way!

Here’s the link to the auction. Go check it out!

Danny Anderson’s 1086 & IH Collector Auction

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