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World’s Largest Agricultural Tractor to be Displayed at Kalispell

The Big Bud 747, the world's largest farm tractor, will be coming to the Flathead County Fairgrounds between July 2-5.

Chintu Das
Big Bud 747
Big Bud 747

It is 14 feet tall, with a capacity of 1,000 gallons of fuel, and can cover an acre and a half in under a minute. Its eight 8-foot-tall tires alone weigh as much as a regular farm tractor at 36,000 pounds. The Big Bud 747 is the world's largest agricultural tractor, and it's on its way to Kalispell. 

The Guiness World Record holder for the largest farm tractor, owned by Robert and Randy Williams of Big Sandy, will be on display at the Flathead County Fairgrounds Trade Center Building July 2-5 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. 

“My Kalispell-based daughters, Lisa and Mandy, wanted to do something positive for their town while also honoring their roots in the eastern region of Montana,” Robert Williams stated. “They believe it's fantastic that Big Bud was built in Montana and is a part of the state's farming history, and they want to tell everyone about it.” 

Big Bud, a 100,000-pound giant manufactured by Ron Harmon and the workers of the Northern Manufacturing Co. of Havre in 1977, was originally built for the cotton-farming Rossi brothers in Bakersfield, California, at a cost of $300,000. 

In 1997, the Williams brothers brought Big Bud home to work on their vast farm in Choteau County, less than 40 miles from where it was first made, after a stay at Willowbrook Farms in Indlantic, Florida. 

The Williams brothers put Big Bud to work after a minor restoration that included a fresh paint job, chrome stacks, and a staggering new 900-plus horsepower engine. 

Robert Williams explained, "We simply kind of spiffed it up and took it out and farmed with it." “This tractor has never just sat there doing nothing. It has been working its entire life.” 

Big Bud can work 1.4 acres of land per minute with an 80-foot tiller at speeds up to 8 miles per hour with a fuel economy of three-quarters of a gallon per acre. 

While the huge tractor was acquired to help reduce the amount of people required to run the family's large farm, the Williamses quickly found themselves with a slew of unexpected visitors. 

“People started coming out just to see the tractor after a few years,” Robert Williams said. “We entertained a lot of people from all around the world, and one or two hundred people came all the way out to Montana every year just to see Big Bud,” he said. It was a little upsetting, but we were able to deal with it.” 

For years, Big Bud was the farm's workhorse, until a particular ailment brought it to an end. Big Bud's one-of-a-kind set of gigantic tires were created by the United Tire Co. of Canada in 1977, but the company went out of business in 2000. 

“Like the rest of the company's tractors, Big Bud has a fairly straightforward design. It can be worked on and maintained by almost anyone with some agricultural expertise. It's simple to find and reassemble the parts. “Finding replacement tires was our biggest issue,” stated Robert Williams. 

The Williams brothers had little choice but to retire Big Bud after the original set of tires wore out, and they chose to display the tractor at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois. 

Big Bud was knocked out, but he wasn't out. Big Bud now has eight Goodyear LSW1400/30r46, the world's largest agricultural tires, thanks to the Williams brothers' work on new wheels and spacers with the support of Goodyear. 

Big Bud will travel to the Farm Progress Show in Illinois after its visit to Kalispell, but the Williams family plans to retire Big Bud soon, even with the new tires, and hopes to make Kalispell its new home, according to Robert Williams. He said the family is seeking for a place where Big Bud might be permanently displayed. 

“The tractor has a Detroit-built engine. And the tractor was constructed in Havre, and the tires were manufactured in Iowa. This tractor is entirely built in the United States, which is unusual these days,” stated Robert Williams. “By placing Big Bud on display for all to see, we hope to let people to participate in that.” 

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