Maple Springs Farm is located in Verona, Wisconsin just southwest of Madison. We truly enjoy working on our Oliver tractors and meeting and talking with the many Oliver owners and restorers out there. Our business today focuses on restoration parts for Olivers that we actually manufacture ourselves. When we restore a tractor and we can't find good used parts to use, we will make it ourselves.
The big question is how and when did we get started? My dad was the businessman of the family and back in the 60's, his philosophy was everything had to have its price (except his wife and kids and some days I didn't know about the kids). His main business was a motel but we also had a farm with cattle and horses and he sold antiques in the motel lobby just to fill it up. There were many days something would be missing because someone world meet his price and it was gone. At that time, we farmed with Ford tractors because he grew up with Fordson tractors on his dad's farm. One day we had left the tractor and blade parked out front when someone drove in and offered him more that "his price" for it and it was gone. Bam--we had a new business enterprise! So in 1966 dad, my older brother (the engineer) and I started Rego Enterprises, rebuilding 8N Ford tractors and selling parts for them. Hard to believe that was over 50 years ago. The business grew and we also sold Satoh and David Brown tractors and a number of short line implements. The parts business grew and grew, we used the trade name Stone Ridge Tractor Parts and published a 40-page catalog of just Ford parts.
So what does this have to do with Olivers? That same year I did some work for one of the neighbor framers when he replaced his IH M (that is another story) with a 1655 Oliver. The quantum leap in productivity with the 1655 was hard to describe. I was hooked. Though we continued to farm with Ford equipment, I always knew that the over/under in that 1655 would put the Fords productivity to shame. Owning an Oliver would have to wait for a while--I was only 1/3 of the partnership. In the 70's, I bought some farms and in the 80's we started selling farm products under the name Maple Springs Farm.
In 1997 we finally bought a 1755 and that has led us to where we are today. We were putting up thousands of small square bales of hay and the little Fords weren't cutting it. The 1755 had the weight to control the bailer, kicker and wagon with 200 bales on it and the Over/Under to adjust to varying windrows but you all know that already. This tractor was pivotal as it was the first tractor Eric tore down, rebuilt, and restored and is what gave him and I the bug. As Eric grew the farm, so did the fleet of Olivers. We currently have an 880, 2-78, 1650 with a 4BT Cummins, 1950 and a 2-135 with a 6BTA Cummins along with a few others which have come and gone. Every tractor we own needs to serve a purpose on the farm so we tend to have a leaner collection than most typical collectors.
Eric is a degreed mechanical/agricultural engineer. He’s worked for Cummins Engine Company and currently works for an off road diesel engine manufacturer as a senior engineer developing long block components. He also has worked as a design engineer for several years at a company called Tomotherapy, a manufacture of radiation delivery devices for cancer treatment. It's there where he gained experience working in high tech manufacturing and design.
While becoming an engineer, he worked as a manual machinist and CNC programmer which is where he gained his skills in manufacturing. This job is really what cultivated his passion for working with metal and also instilled in him the attitude of being able to manufacture anything if he puts his mind to it.
Eric’s professional engineering career has allowed him to interface with dozens of suppliers, rapid prototypers, injection molders, and machine shops. Not only has this allowed him to build a tremendous list of connections, but by being on the receiving end as a customer, it’s taught him some very valuable lessons and do’s and don’ts for how to build a successful manufacturing business. He’s heavily focused on developing internal capabilities and being vertically integrated. By manufacturing in house, it brings the quality control in house as well which is key.
One of the capabilities we’re most proud of is our 3D machining capability which has allowed us to essentially duplicate any part that come through the door with a high degree of accuracy. A good example is a pair of Super 44 steering arms we just produced for a customer. These arms were originally a casting, but we are able to 100% duplicate the original geometry in billet steel for a stronger part. For low volume, 3D machining from billet is often a more economical alternative to casting. Our 3D manufacturing capability also lends itself to mold making capabilities, which, when married to our urethane casting abilities, allows us to reproduce rubber and plastic parts such as our dash trims.
The one common theme with all of these restorations was that it was very difficult to find perfect used parts which met our standards. Eric being a machinist and engineer gave us our answer--make the parts we need. So after considerable investment in an engine lathe, CNC milling machine and software, we were on our way. We’ve also partnered with businesses which have plasma cutting, laser cutting, and forming capabilities to fill gaps in our capabilities. One of which uses an Armada 5 axis press brake along with other tools which makes them one of the most advanced sheet metal fabricators in Southern Wisconsin. If anyone can form a part, they can.
If we can't find the parts we need, there is a pretty good chance others are having the same difficulty. A good example is the chromed wheel centers for 1550 1600 1650 1750 1800 1850 1900 1950 2050 and 2150 tractors with telescoping steering wheels. New ones we machine out of billet aluminum will last much longer thanks to the triple layer chrome plating applied by AIH Chrome in Dubuque IA. I'm not as machinist but I understand a thing of beauty when I see it and I know the amount of work that goes into these.
One aspect of our business that most people don't see is our Cummins Repower Kits. We bought a 2-135 for heavy tillage. When we ran it, there wouldn't be a mosquito within 500 feet so rebuilding or repowering were our choices. Eric's previous work experience as an engineer at Cummins Engine Company developing emissions solutions for the B series engines made doing Cummins repowers a natural fit for us. Whites are an easy repower but we have done a number of Oliver's. We gained 2+ gallon an hour fuel savings on the 2-135 chiseling & disking with the Cummins versus the Hercules so there is a significant payback
And one last unique point of Maple Springs Farm is that over 95% of what we sell is MADE IN THE USA! We strongly believe in the American Worker and the best way to keep them working is to buy American made parts. It’s important to remember that buying American not only supports a manufacturer, but a whole host of other companies. As an example, our dash trims required us to interface with over a dozen other US based companies. Going overseas would have reduced this by 75% or more.
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