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Custer Implement, Tama Iowa


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Custer was Dad and Grandpa's IH dealer for many years.  My uncle (Dad's brother) was a mechanic there from 1971 to 1985.  Uncle Norman always worked on our equipment when it needed repairs.  He and I analyzed this photograph and determined that it must have been taken in 1977. There are 86 series and 2+2 tractors visible in the photo. Also a 915 combine. This photo was taken from the west side. My current view is from the east.

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My uncle and I studied this photo awhile and he offered some insights that I will share.

The showroom was on the NE corner. Employee parking on the south side along the building. Norm's motorcycle is visible in the photo. To the south along the property line, customer units would wait for service and delivery. Across the street to the North, new and used equipment was on display. West on the next block a lot and building housed new equipment and a place for set-up of new units (tillage and such). Most new combines were parked there.

The wash bay/ paint booth was on NW corner. Three overhead doors on the north wall allowed access to wash bay ,shop and showroom. The overhead door in the center of west wall allowed another entry into main shop. Taller door on SW corner allowed entry into combine shop. Parts room was on SE corner. It was torn down when the tire store moved in. (Customer parking visible in my photo.)

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Few more interesting facts.  The white IH pickup with red stripe; visible on SW corner was used for service calls. Sold new, traded back in. Uncle Norm painted it white with red stripe prior to becoming the shop truck.  The green Travelall parked along south property line belonged to old man Custer. His daily driver. 

Two 86 series tractors parked north of shop were likely going through dealer prep.

Behind the paint booth, adjacent to the tractor shop door in the corner was the scrap metal pile. See the auger along the building?

Lots of equipment  around the building.  I can see a 241 baler,  corn head, 990 mower conditioner,  model 80 snowblower,  square baler.

Our 915 combine was a trade in on the first rotary combine Custer sold. We bought the 915 after the 815 overheated and locked up the engine combining beans.  Our 1976 1500 Truck also came from Custer. Uncle swapped the box and hoist over off the 1947 Ford we traded in.  

I hope you enjoy my rambling. I love sharing these old stories with everyone. Helps keep these old places alive long after they are gone.

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Cool!  Do have one nit pick....you obviously have the real photo and can see better....but the Mo-co's look like they have a "Solid" rear wedge hood and a wheel frame sticking out at each end.  My 990 sitting out back just has two gathering fins sticking out--and no end frames.  The 1190 had the solid rear hood and big end wheel frames.  I think those are likely 1190s.  I looked closer because the shape just didn't look right to me!    Would that help date the picture??

Sigh....everybody always gotta pick on any....?

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On 4/2/2019 at 7:44 AM, SDman said:

Neat pictures. Always love stories of old IH dealers and their buildings. 

2+2s actually came out in the spring of 1979 IIRC. Might help date the photo a little more. 

I missed that. You are likely right on the money. ?

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  • 8 months later...

I have an update to share.  A gentleman contacted me with the attached photo. Wondered if I would like to have it.  I called him and we struck a deal. It came off a farm northeast of Grundy Center.  20191219_182454.thumb.jpg.062ad504b1452cce27ce8b2ab2cf4aee.jpgHe will deliver it to me after the holidays!  An early Christmas present to myself. ?

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On 12/19/2019 at 8:49 PM, nepoweshiekfarmalls said:

I have an update to share.  A gentleman contacted me with the attached photo. Wondered if I would like to have it.  I called him and we struck a deal. It came off a farm northeast of Grundy Center.  20191219_182454.thumb.jpg.062ad504b1452cce27ce8b2ab2cf4aee.jpgHe will deliver it to me after the holidays!  An early Christmas present to myself. ?

That's extremely cool. Nice piece of history for you especially since your uncle worked there.

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You say it closed in 1985. May I ask why? Retirement? Bankruptcy? Was not offered a dealer contract after the Case/IH merger?

Pretty tough time to be a dealer in the Corn Belt at that time. Many dealerships closed up in that time frame. Not all of them were red, either. 
 

Still always interesting to me to learn about the IH dealerships from back in the day. Many were dealerships for 2/3 generations of the family. Sad how the business of US agriculture went so sour in just a few short years. 

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On 12/22/2019 at 9:16 PM, SDman said:

You say it closed in 1985. May I ask why? Retirement? Bankruptcy? Was not offered a dealer contract after the Case/IH merger?

Pretty tough time to be a dealer in the Corn Belt at that time. Many dealerships closed up in that time frame. Not all of them were red, either. 
 

Still always interesting to me to learn about the IH dealerships from back in the day. Many were dealerships for 2/3 generations of the family. Sad how the business of US agriculture went so sour in just a few short years. 

I believe after the merger the corporate store in Tama stayed open and they had to close.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Our family bought equipment from Custer's Implement over four decades until it closed down. Sad to see close down, good family to deal with.Vintage Aerial photos has a pretty good picture of the dealership with some 66 series tractors so assuming it was taken either late 70's or early 80's. I can provide the link to the picture if anyone is interested. I believe Doug Custer is still in Nevada, possibly Reno. My folks lived in the Sheridan area and have both passed away. Have gone through there paperwork from 1954 when they were married and found numerous contracts and invoices they kept for the equipment and parts they purchased at Custer's. Didn't have the best cameras at that time so don't have many good pictures of our equipment and wish we I did. I would think someone in the Tama/Toledo area would have a good picture of the dealership from the ground but haven't been able to find one, just the aerial photo. Tama paper probably took one when they closed or had their auction but who knows where any of their photos are now.

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  • 3 months later...

I worked for IH and CaseIH until 1985 when I resigned to take a position with the Iowa Department of Economic Development (now the Iowa Economic Development Authority).  I called on Custer Implement in the early 1980's and thoroughly enjoyed the Custer Family.  Kenny  reminded me of my father and his IH dealership in Nebraska.  I would often have noon lunch with them at their home.  Doug and Kenny were great sons to have in the business with him.  They weren't the biggest dealer around and often clashed with IH over inventory and shortline equipment, but they were a class act in my mind.  I have great memories of them.  I found Kenny and his wife to be great mentors  to me, both business wise and personal.  

Ken Boyd

Winterset Iowa

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  • 8 months later...

Found a couple more items to add to my Custer Implement memorabilia collection.   Both are very pristine condition.   A fellow forum member sent me a link to another Custer item, but the condition for the price just did not work for me.  I appreciated the heads up!  If anyone runs into other Custer items, I would appreciate the tip. Thanks!

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I remember all the dealers had those match books with their name on them. Somewhere I have the Hauser Implement, Hubbard Imp, Turner Farm Store and Sage International ones. Those were all the dealers Dad used when I was a kid. Remember going to Turners sale, Sage lost out to the Case store, Hubbard was eventually bought out while Hauser's stayed the longest. Did most all our business there, they were a great dealer. Have seen more of those tool boxes over the years with other dealers names on them. I never saw a new one at the dealers though. Must have been before my time. That one sure is nice yet!

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I went to the sale I think I bought my Walker 4ton floor jack on that sale. I worked at the dealership in Maquoketa till they closed in 85. I had my own shop for 10 years working on mainly IH tractors.  Still have the shop with all the service tools and manuals. I can remember Kenny telling someone that he thought about putting   Custers last stand on the sale bill 

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24 minutes ago, gary1466 said:

I went to the sale I think I bought my Walker 4ton floor jack on that sale. I worked at the dealership in Maquoketa till they closed in 85. I had my own shop for 10 years working on mainly IH tractors.  Still have the shop with all the service tools and manuals. I can remember Kenny telling someone that he thought about putting   Custers last stand on the sale bill 

You worked at Dostal and Watters?

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