Big Bud tractors are hard to miss, being some of the biggest tractors in the world. Big Equipment Company in Havre is starting to produce a new one for the first time in over 30 years.
"1991 was our last production run," owner Roy Harmon said.
A lot can happen in 32 years. Harmon has seen a void created in the ag industry, a void they're looking to fill with their new 2023 640 Big Bud Tractor that is using all Caterpillar drive components.
"The void that's been created is that the tractors have become so computerized and so specific that farmers really don't have a choice but to hire outside mechanics to come in and do even minor work to the tractors," Harmon said. "We just felt strongly that there was a need for someone to make a good heavy-duty tractor and do it differently than what's presently being done with the major manufacturers."
They are partnering with Rome Agricultural and Construction Equipment of Cedartown, Ga., to help put Big Buds back in production. They don't have a final price but Harmon said they want it to be the same or less than what someone would pay if they went to a big manufacturer.
One of the primary objectives of this new tractor is to provide a tractor that has components that can be repaired by farmers, mechanics, or dealerships without restriction.
"We wanted to go back and build another tractor that represents what we think is putting the end user, or the owner, in control versus leaving it as it is at the present time where they can do very little to keep their own equipment running," Harmon said.
It is one of many designed by Keith Richardson, who said he has designed dozens of different tractor variations over the years working with Harmon and Big Equipment. They produced 14 different tractors leading up to 1991 and he says he appreciates the lack of simplicity.
"I can just sit and draw a picture all day long. I enjoy it and I always like doing something new, you know, any time. And so this is a challenge. One of the things I like about it is involving more people. You can get more ideas and we have a lot of interest in this idea. We've had customers from Canada, Australia, you name it, call and ask once the word was out. It seems like we've had a lot of calls and a lot of interest, a lot more than I really anticipated."
The 640 is set to be released in March so they can show it at the Con Expo Trade Show in Las Vegas.