This is a 1949 Minneapolis Moline ZAU that was the first tractor my Dad, Norbert Zangl, bought after farming with horses on the Zangl family homestead since the mid 1930s. It was purchased from Otto Neumann Steam Engine Company of Fond du Lac, WI in 1949 for the price of $1350. That price also included the corn cultivator.
I inherited the tractor after doing a large welding job for my Dad. When he insisted on paying me I told him I’d rather have the “Z”, as it was always called. After stopping in the field in the mid-1980s, it had been coaxed to the fenceline and that’s where it sat for 7-8 years. Sometime after that it was pulled into an old storage shed with a dirt floor, and sat there for another 6 years. When I towed it out in 1997 the tires were sunk in the ground up to the rims.
I worked on it off and on for 10 years, taking it apart down to the last nut and bolt, cleaning the parts by hand, burning out one drill, and going through so many wire brushes I finally lost count. I bought a second tractor to use for engine parts, fenders, etc. Total time on restoring just the tractor was 700 hours.
In April 2008, when it was finally done and ready for painting, we had a garage fire. The Z was still up on blocks only needing new tires and couldn’t be moved. Luckily the fire never made it to that corner of the building, and it was saved. Painting was completed by Capital Painting of Waupun, WI in July of that year. The corn cultivator that Pa bought with the tractor was restored during the winter of 2011-’12; and the hay mower, purchased in ’54, was finished in July of 2013.
In the August 2008 the Z made its debut at the MM National Summer Show in Burnette, WI sponsored by the Dodge County Antique Power Club. Now that it’s completely restored, it’s only used for parades and display at tractor shows – a well deserved rest for Pa’s first mechanical horse.
Roger Zangl of Lomira, Wisconsin
*This photo is a winner of the Steiner Tractor Parts 2020 catalog photo contest.