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The Toy Box: Wilkinson’s auction for R&M Motors


Ryan Roossinck

April 11, 2024

R&M Motors: 1981 Kenworth W900A

Welcome to the R&M Motors toy box, folks.

Wilkinson Auction and Realty Co.

Browse all equipment from Wilkinson Auction and Realty Co.

Find additional farm equipment for sale from Wilkinson Auction and Realty Co. in Muscoda, WI.

Good gravy, this is a neat auction. There’s literally something for just about everybody on this sale – whether you push dirt, collect tractors, float gears, or just want a snazzy pickup!

If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself!

Wilkinson Auction & Realty – R&M Motors Retirement Auction (April 29, 2024)

Who is R&M Motors, anyway?

Glad you asked.

In the late 60s, Richard Moriarty and his wife Karen opened up R&M Motors, a repair shop in downtown Berlin, WI, about an hour southwest of Green Bay. Richard was a good mechanic who loved equipment, and built a healthy business keeping the local milk trucks on the road. He also moved quite a bit of used farm equipment from the locals. Karen handled the accounting, as well as raising their sons Jon and Pat.

The 80s brought considerable growth, and R&M Motors relocated to a new building on the outskirts of town on Hwy 49 in 1980. Richard also started selling new equipment, becoming one of the first Deutz dealers in the area. Pat told me that they picked up quite a few short lines over the late 80s and into the 90s. If I remember right, he told me that at their peak, they sold new equipment from 42 different companies – plus quite a bit of used equipment! 

This is what the dealership looked like when the Google Street View car drove past it in October 2008. As you can see, they’ve got quite a bit of used equipment on the left, plus a lot of 3/4/5000-series Massey Ferguson utility tractors near the sign.

Over time, manufacturers increased pressure on R&M Motors to expand. That wasn’t the direction Richard and the boys (who were now partners in the business) wanted to go. So, in 2011, they made the decision to drop their new product lines and focus on used farm and construction equipment. 

That was a good decision, too. The used equipment business has been good to Jon and Pat, and their hard work has allowed them to build a pretty sweet collection of interesting tractors and trucks!

Previewing the R&M Motors auction…

Here’s the 10,000-foot overview from Pat & Jon themselves.

One of the most interesting things about this auction is the makeup of what’s on it. There’s been quite a bit of buzz about the low-houred SoundGuards on the sale, and a couple of other things here and there, but not much about the rest of it.

The majority of the assets on the sale are pieces of late-model construction equipment – and I mean a bunch of it. 13 excavators of all sizes, 11 backhoes, 8 dozers, 8 wheel loaders, 5 skidloaders, and a lot more. There’s also a few service trucks, a half-dozen very nice pickups, a couple of very nice tri-axle detach trailers, and quite a few other odds and ends. (There’ll also be a lot of attachments listing pretty soon, too – buckets and blades and the like. Wilkinson is cataloging them as we speak.)

However, you read this blog because you like toy box-type stuff.

So, let’s look inside the R&M Motors toy box.

The 826 Gold Demo

R&M Motors: 1970 Farmall 826 Gold Demonstrator
When a farmer bought a dealer’s Gold Demonstrator, it was technically supposed to be repainted IH red before delivery. This one apparently slipped through the cracks. (Photo: Wilkinson Auction & Realty)

I think IH’s Gold Demo tractors are some of the more interesting tractors from the golden era (no pun intended), mainly because the way the program rolled out was so weird. The program included 544s, 656s, 826s, 1026s, and 1456s, and only tractors produced in 1970. The serial numbers of tractors that were painted gold were seemingly chosen at random, and as far as I know, nobody ever thought to keep track of them. Furthermore, they were supposed to promote the hydrostatic-drive tractors, but there are lots of examples of gear-drive tractors that rolled out wearing gold paint! Such is the case with this 826 in the R&M Motors collection. It’s a gear-drive 826 Gold Demonstrator.

Jon and Pat bought it at an Iowa auction about 15 years ago, give or take. They’ve never been able to find out much of the history of this tractor, but it sure looks to me like an all-original machine. I did a little digging at the Wisconsin Historical Archives and based on the serial number, this one was built in mid-late October of 1970, so it’s definitely late in the production run.

Originality is a big deal for tractors like this, and this one has it. Honestly, I’m pretty impressed with the way this tractor has survived. The gold paint is thin and typically didn’t fare very well. If I had to guess, while this tractor was used (it’s got almost 8200 hours on it), it didn’t sleep outside very often. The paint never would’ve held up as well otherwise.

The 4020

R&M Motors: John Deere 4020 Pioneer test plot tractor
This 4020 came out of Indiana. It spent most of its life working for Pioneer with a 4-row test plot planter on its 3-point hitch! (Photo: Wilkinson Auction & Realty)

Yes, I know 4020s are a dime a dozen. This one has an interesting story though, and some interesting features.

Pioneer bought this tractor back in the day to plant test plots with a 4-row planter mounted on the 3-point hitch. That’s why it’s so heavily loaded on the nose. The big red box on the console is a Murphy Tattletale switch that would kill the tractor if the motor lost oil pressure or overheated. It also has mounts for multiple fire extinguishers as well. I suppose if I were in Pioneer’s position, I’d probably try and outfit the tractor with as many safety features as I could, too.

This is a pretty original side-console synchro tractor. The wheels have been repainted, but near as I can tell, nothing else has. It’s been remarkably well-preserved, too. Being a corporately-owned tractor, I’d sort of expect that there were policies mandating that it was stored indoors when possible. I’m not sure how many years it was in service, but I’m pretty impressed that the paint survived as well as it has.

At any rate, it’s got about 5500 hours on a working tach, and it’s getting hard to find original 4020s like that. The story is pretty neat, too!

The 1955

R&M Motors: Oliver 1955 FWA
Oliver only built 166 FWA 1955s, from what I understand. I believe this one was originally sold in central Illinois in 1972. (Photo: Wilkinson Auction & Realty)

Oliver front wheel assist tractors aren’t the rarest things in the world, but they’re still not all that common. Original examples like this one are out there, but they’re not easy to find. Jon and Pat bought this tractor at an auction in central Illinois a few years ago. Initially, I think they were debating on whether or not to restore it with pretty paint and all that. I’m glad they chose not to, as the patina will ultimately end up adding to its value. This one shows 7133 hours, and it’s knee-deep in rubber, too!

The 4055

R&M Motors: John Deere 4055 MFWD with 22 actual hours on it!
At 22 actual hours, this 4055 is likely the lowest-houred example on the planet. Y’all want a unicorn? This is it. (Photo: Wilkinson Auction & Realty)

This 1992 John Deere 4055 MFWD is something of a unicorn. As I understand it, this tractor was sold by a Kentucky Deere dealer to a local attorney who liked tractors. The guy apparently took it home and parked it in a dirt floor tobacco shed on a farm he owned, and it sat there for at least ten years before it went to a used equipment dealer in the area. When it made its way to R&M Motors from Kentucky 10 or 15 years ago, it had a whopping 17 hours on the meter and they’ve only put five hours on it since. The meter reads 22.9 right now. 

It’s a nicely-optioned tractor, too; Powershift, 3 remotes, mechanical front, PTO, 3-point, and front fenders. It was perfectly-spec’d for a medium-sized Kentucky farm back in the day. It just never got to actually do any farm work. If I had to guess, the attorney who bought it had a farm as an investment and picked this one up because somebody said, “Well, you bought a farm, you probably need to buy a new tractor for it!”

As strange as it may seem, that does happen from time to time. A doctor in Michigan bought a 2WD Quad Range 4055 from a mid-Michigan dealer and hung on to it as an investment. He sold it at an auction about 10 years ago with about 500 hours on it and it brought close to $64K! These low-houred unicorns are out there. They don’t show up very often, but they’re out there…and this one is part of the R&M Motors toy box!

The 4455

R&M Motors: John Deere 4455 MFWD with 2260 original hours
This 4455 MFWD had to have been somebody’s pride and joy. 2200 hours and almost all of the options! (Photo: Wilkinson Auction & Realty)

The 4455 is the 55-series that everybody wanted. When they were launched, they outsold every other tractor in Deere’s lineup by at least double, and clean examples are still hard at work earning a living on farms across the country. I can just about guarantee you that somebody you know either planted with a 4455 back in the day, or plants with one today.

The Moriarty brothers picked this tractor up at a farm auction in Iowa. As best as I can tell, it was one of those “I’m gonna splurge just this once” deals for the original owner. Whoever that guy was, he set it up right – 42″ rubber, axle-mount duals, 3-remotes, quick hitch, Powershift, and a full rack of front weights!

This tractor evidently never saw much use, either, because it’s only got 2260 original hours on it. Everything is original to the tractor as well; original rubber, paint, the works. Heck, I think even the fuel filter is original!

I wasn’t at all surprised when Donnie Bleich, the auction manager, told me that he’d fielded a ton of phone calls on this tractor. Furthermore, nearly every one of ’em wanted to put it to work! Honestly, I see their point, too. These machines were built to last!

The 7510

R&M Motors: John Deere 7510 with 13 actual hours.
Another tractor from Kentucky, this was originally bought as something of an investment. It’s only got 13 hours on it today. (Photo: Wilkinson Auction & Realty)

I don’t know what it is about Kentucky doctors and lawyers and low-houred green paint, but this is another example of it. It was originally sold by Roeder Implement in Hopkinsville, KY (which is now a Hutson location, I believe) to a local doctor back in 2002. If I had to guess, he probably had a farm or an acreage and felt like he needed a tractor. However…in the ten(ish) years he owned it, he only put about an hour per year on that machine.

One hour per year. Crazy, right?

Then in 2012 or early 2013, he brought it back to the dealership and traded up to a new tractor. Jon and Pat bought it from Roeder in the spring of 2013 with the same ten hours on it. They brought it back to Berlin, WI, and since then, they’ve only put three hours on it.

It’s loaded, too. Deluxe cab, axle-mount duals, triple remotes, fenders, e-Range Pow-R Quad transmission, and the corner-mount exhaust. This is a really nice tractor. I’m not sure what’ll end up happening to it on auction day, but I suspect that it’ll go to work when it’s all said and done. I hope so, anyway!

That brings up an interesting discussion about these super-low-houred tractors…

Use ’em or stash ’em away?

Honestly, I don’t know where I come down on this one. The 4455 will go to work, I’m almost sure of it – and that’s probably where it should go. At 2200 hours, it really deserves to be used. The motor’s had enough time to break in, and you can do a heck of a lot of farming with a tractor like that (and fix it when it breaks)!

But 13 and 22 hours? I dunno. I think Jon and Pat are torn on the deal, too.

At any rate, those are the highlights on the tractor side, and it’ll be interesting to see where they end up when the hammer drops on April 29th.

That’s just the tractors, though. Let’s talk about the semis on this sale for a minute!

The R&M Motors semis

There are a handful of semis on the auction, and they’re all really nice. Let’s take a look at some of ’em.

The Day Cab

R&M Motors: 2022 Kenworth W900L
This W9 Day Cab was a special-order, and it’s only got 30,000 miles on it. (Photo: Wilkinson Auction & Realty)

This W9 day cab was a special order from the Kenworth dealer in Green Bay. It’s got a 565-horse X15 under the hood with an 18-speed, 3.91 gears, and it sits on a heavy duty single frame with a factory pusher axle. If there was ever a truck built to do work, this one is it. This was Jon’s baby, and he put a lot of time and effort into making it the way he wanted it. It’s a sharp truck, it’s loaded, and as he put it, “All it’s really missing is a driver and a license plate!”

The 379

Wilkinson Auction & Realty: Peterbilt 379
There’s only one thing I’d change on this truck – I’d make it a flat-top. (Photo: Wilkinson Auction & Realty)

This truck sure looks good for a million-miler! It’s a 2005 Pete 379 American Class edition that started out as an all-black truck when the Moriarty brothers bought it. At the time, it was a stock, well-optioned 600,000-mile truck with a C15 CAT and a 13-speed. That wouldn’t last for long, though. After a trip home from Missouri with a fully loaded detach, it felt pretty lazy, and that just wouldn’t cut it. A local CAT wizard worked a little magic on that truck and let it breathe a little easier. Now it makes an easy 750 horse, and fully loaded trailers aren’t nearly as much of an issue now. At the same time, they gave the truck a bit of a cosmetic makeover, too; custom paint, stacks, and a few other things. She’s a looker now, that’s for sure!

Furthermore, the inside is just as nice as the outside. Hardwood floors, leather, nice sleeper, the works. It’s sitting at just over 1.1 million miles now, and it’s been the main workhorse for R&M Motors. It’s picked up and delivered equipment all over the country!

Here’s a walkaround video of both the day cab and the 379.

The 389

Wilkinson Auction & Realty: 2021 Peterbilt 389
This Pete 389 has literally never pulled a trailer. It’s only got 390 miles on it. (Photo: Wilkinson Auction & Realty)

This truck is the one that honestly has me scratching my head.

It’s a 2021 Pete 389, and it is beautiful. Pat special-ordered this machine with almost every single option box checked. It’s got the big Cummins X15 under the hood rated at 605 horse, an 18-speed push-button shift transmission, 3.42 rear axle, air ride, two-tone Platinum & Sahara Tan interior, and a 78″ UltraCab sleeper, too. I mean, this is an absolute Rolls Royce of trucks. Furthermore, though, there was a ton of time and effort spent on this truck after it got home. Pat shaved the frame, had it custom-painted (it was originally painted Legendary Teal top to bottom – the White Diamond and gray stripe were custom-applied), added the big stacks, and probably a million other little things he forgot to tell me.

So after all of that time and money was put into this truck, why would you never drive it?

I asked Pat that question. He told me, “Ryan, it was initially ordered to replace the 379. However, after it was all said and done, it just felt like it was too nice to drive. I had grand designs of putting it through its paces and honestly I was really looking forward to not having to row gears in that truck…but it was just too nice. Believe it or not, one of my kids probably has more miles on that truck than I do. Avery and I went up to Green Bay to get it, and he wanted to drive it home!”

Here’s a walkaround with Pat.

This last truck, though? This one is probably my favorite machine on the sale.

The A-Model

Wilkinson Auction & Realty: 1981 KW W900A with a Coors Banquet Beer trailer
The Smokey & The Bandit vibes are pretty strong here, huh? (Photo: Pat Moriarty)

My oh my, I really like this truck. Pat was, too, because he went to some length to get it.

He wanted a really nice, all-original A-Model because like most of us, he has a thing for Smokey & The Bandit. Furthermore, since he worked hard for his success, he was in a position where he could create something similar, so he did. I don’t have a CDL, nor do I really need a semi, but if I were in the same position, I’d probably entertain similar ideas. I mean, wouldn’t you?

The search for this truck took a long time, but eventually he ended up finding this very unique, very original 1981 W900A. It was essentially a barn find. It had sat for quite a few years, but the farmer who owned it had taken very good care of it. The last thing it had pulled was a hopper bottom, and I’m fairly sure that was a pretty brief stint.

It shows 390,000 miles, and they are original. Donnie Bleich, the auction manager, took it down the road not too long ago to test it out. He told me, “Ryan, I wish you could experience this thing for yourself. Those miles are accurate and the second it goes down the road, you can feel it. It’s remarkable how much this really feels like driving a new truck.”

An A-Model…in an A-Model

I did a little bit of research on how this truck was optioned. I’m not prepared to say that this was a one of one truck, but I don’t think Kenworth turned out too many A-models like this. It was definitely a custom-order for an owner/operator.

It’s a loaded truck, especially for 1981 standards.

I believe it’s a 265″ wheelbase truck with a full diamond-tufted two-tone VIT (Very Important Truck) interior and 60″ flat-top sleeper. It’s powered by a 3406A CAT set at about 400 horse, and it all runs through a 13-speed. It sits on an 8-bag air-ride suspension too (all eight bags are new), so it probably rides pretty darn nice! The paint and stripes are both original to the truck, too. The pattern is called Mojave, and it’s not a real common pattern. In my opinion, they really lend a nice, period-correct look to the truck!

Like I said earlier, this is probably my favorite machine on the sale. I’m a sucker for old-school stuff like that, though. Would it be a great truck to run up and down the road every day? I mean, you could…but if anything happened to it, it’d be awfully hard to ever get it back to the way it was.

Here’s a pretty detailed walkaround video with Jon, Pat, and Ryan Kelly. The video is a long one, but it’s well-worth watching. Ryan gets Richard Moriarty talking towards the end about growing up and spending summers at his Grandpa’s farm just west of Berlin.

One thing to note – the Coors Banquet trailer isn’t on the sale. It’s staying with Pat.

So why sell now?

That’s the question that’s been on everybody’s mind. Why sell the collection now?

There’s a few answers, and they’re a lot more straightforward than you probably think.

It’s all about priorities, timing, and perspective.


Jon and Pat are brothers, friends, and business partners. But when passions and priorities change, for the sake of the business, you’re faced with decisions like this. Both Jon and Pat have lots of irons in the fire outside of R&M Motors, and there’s only so many hours in a day, y’know? Jon’s got a few dump trucks that he and his sons run, and it makes more sense for his priorities to put more of a focus there. Pat’s planning to scale back on selling equipment a bit so he can continue building a paint and polish business as well as his latest passion project.

See, just south of town, there’s a little bar and grille called The Old School. It’s a neat piece of local history; back in 1871, it was a one-room schoolhouse. Then at some point in the 50s, it was converted into a restaurant. In the 80s, the owners added a bar area on to the restaurant, but for one reason or another, it never opened. Well, Pat saw an opportunity, and bought the place.

It finally opened in 2022, and it’s been pretty popular!

So, like I said earlier, it’s a shifting in priorities. There’s more than that, though.


It’s also a case of timing.

Let’s face it; ag and construction aren’t in a great spot right now. Grain markets are way down and the economy isn’t all that great. Pat and Jon could certainly keep R&M Motors going, and maintain the collection as-is, but who knows how long it’ll take before the economy starts getting better again?

From where they’re sitting, it just makes sense to move the inventory out while buyers are still there. I can understand that, especially if the idea of collecting isn’t as important as it once was. I mean, a year or two ago, equipment prices were going crazy because the supply wasn’t there. If you didn’t need a tractor, it was a great time to sell – and we saw a lot of that. In my mind, it’s a similar situation.


Lastly, it’s about perspective. As we get older, we start to realize that at the end of the day, it’s all just “stuff.” To Jon and Pat, while it’s really cool stuff, a lot of what makes it so cool is the memories attached to it. The thrill of the hunt, the process of building it together, and the people that they’ve met along the way…that’s the really important part. Furthermore, just because the tractor or truck or whatever is gone, it doesn’t mean that the memories and friendships disappear. When this auction is all over and everybody goes home (or to The Old School for a burger and cold one), the stories and friendships will remain.

That’s one of the reasons that Jon, Pat, and the team at Wilkinson Auction & Realty were intentional about having a live auction in addition to the online bidding. For the Moriarty family, this will be a cause for celebration. It’ll be a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones!

I’ll just about guarantee that if you buy something at this auction, Jon and Pat will both want to know where it goes – especially Pat! When I was talking to Donnie Bleich the other night, he said, “Ryan, I’ve known Pat for a long time. When that 389 sells, he’s going to want to know who it goes home with. He’ll be that guy who wants to see photos from the places the driver takes it, because there’s a part of him in that semi, y’know?”

Yep, Donnie, I get that. I’ve got a little bit of that perspective in me, too.

Wrapping up…

When I was on the phone with him, Pat asked me to come up for the auction. He said, “You told me that you’re a storyteller. But when you write these things, how often do you get to see how the rest of the story plays out?”

He’s got a pretty good point, if I’m being honest. Since so many of the machines I write about are sold online, I rarely get to see the next chapter of the story play out. In all of the Interesting Iron articles I’ve ever written, there’s only been one buyer who reached out to me after seeing the article I wrote. It was a guy who bought a Versatile 145 on an auction in Minnesota a few years ago. He and his dad were planning to restore it and put it back to work! (Note to self – Time to check in with those guys and see how the restoration is coming along!)

At any rate, I promised Pat that if I could make it work with my schedule, I’d come up for the auction. So, as long as nothing falls apart at the office, I’m going to head for Berlin, WI for that sale. It’s been a while since I’ve had some good cheese curds, and it’s been ages since I’ve been able to get to a live auction!

So, if you’re there, look for the big fella with a camera wearing a Tractor Zoom hat. Introduce yourself, and tell me a story about a tractor that’s special to you! Who knows…maybe we’ll tell that story in an Interesting Iron article someday!

Make it a great week, folks – if you’re in the field planting, send me a photo here!

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