Fourth generation Waikato dairy farmer and quarry owner, Bruce Wallis, has a shed full of John Deere tractors, machinery, gators, and branded paraphernalia, dating from the 1940s to today.
One tractor in his collection stands out for him, as he went to substantial lengths and expense to acquire it from the States.
Bruce has always loved the Kevin Costner movie ‘Field of Dreams’, which is set in Iowa, USA. In 2011 he recreated the scene where the players walk out of the corn to play softball, in his own maize paddock, and it is still talked about today.
While recuperating from a double hip replacement in 2015, Bruce discovered the internet and began surfing.
“I found an American website with a 1992 John Deere 4455 for sale and I’d always admired them,” says Bruce.
When he contacted the farmer, he wasn’t taken seriously, and the farmer had never heard of a place called New Zealand! Bruce persevered and the two got talking.
“This guy actually farmed about 10 minutes down the road from where that ‘Field of Dreams’ movie was made, and I told him about my recreation of it.”
After convincing the Iowan farmer that he really was a potential buyer, Bruce talked to his son Jack. The combination of a favourable exchange rate at the time, and that Jack absolutely agreed that the fact it was from the ‘Field of Dreams’ state of Iowa was indeed a “sign they should have it”, led to Bruce buying it sight unseen.
“I had no idea what a complex process it was to ship a big machine like that!”
Luckily Bruce has a longstanding relationship with a local machinery dealer who included the 4455 with a shipment of theirs.
The John Deere 4455 has a six cylinder, 150 HP, diesel engine. It is rear wheel drive, with an American, bar axle, dual wheel system.
“The American rubber, 42 inch tyres have cleats at a 45 degree angle, rather than the 23 degree New Zealand standard, and it gives the 4455 much more pulling power on the farm.”
Bruce’s 4455 had only done 3500 hours work, and he uses it regularly for discing, power harrowing, and drilling. It’s still in excellent, original condition, including the paintwork and cab.
“The SG2 cab is really something.
“It was streets ahead of its time, with rounded glass, panoramic views, and easy to reach controls.”
A fitting end to the story is that Bruce and the Iowan farmer became good friends and have remained in touch to this day.