Gaining Traction Home | BEHIND THE SCENES | IN THE FIELD

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Min


When the largest farm tractor in the world needs new tires, you better believe only the world’s largest tractor tires will do. Get behind the scenes on the legendary Big Bud 747’s return to glory.
Scott Sloan, Global Ag/LSW Product Manager    3/15/2022

Everybody knows the Big Bud 16V-747. The massive, 1100-horsepower tractor is legendary, and at 120,000 pounds, it’s the biggest farm tractor in the world. It also has a huge following. Ask any grower, they’ve all got their favorite tractor — you can be a red guy, a green guy, a blue guy, but everybody is a Big Bud guy. I know I am — especially after being lucky enough to be involved in bringing it back to life. 


Big Bud had been sitting basically unusable in the Heartland Museum in Clarion, Iowa for almost a decade due to its tires being beyond repair and no longer available from the original manufacturer. That’s where I was lucky enough to get pulled in. 


The Williams brothers (owners of the tractor) had always dreamed of bringing it back home to Montana to get it in the field, but until the tire situation was solved, that wasn’t doable. So, the Williams brothers worked with the Heartland Museum and they reached out to Janesville Tire Service out of Janesville, Minnesota to come up with a solution. My buddy Paul from Janesville ended up giving me a call and we talked through some options. Right away, I thought, “It’s the world’s largest tractor — we have to put the world’s largest farm tires on there — the LSW1400s.” 


I also knew getting the LSW1400s on there would require some custom wheel development to be able to be spaced correctly for a dual configuration and also fit the bolt pattern of the tractor. So, I worked with Wold Rim & Wheel in St. Ansgar, Iowa to do the custom modification. Almost two years after initiating the conversations, we were ready for the install. 



Installation couldn’t have gone better. We set up the cameras with Big Bud getting the new shoes on, then had the guys from Welker Farms talking about the tractor because they're Big Bud aficionados, and you’ve got the Williams brothers right there — and they’re literally encyclopedias when it comes to the full history of Big Bud, so there was a ton of excitement in the air. 


Once the tires were on, people thought we were just going to take some pictures and call it good. I said, “No we're gonna drive this thing! And if we’ve got to get a police escort to drive it in downtown Clarion, we're going to do it.” So, Larry Maasdam from the Heartland Museum got on the phone and 15 minutes later a cop car showed up and we fired up Big Bud and away we went! 


When we were running the tractor downtown, the way Randy and Robert Williams smiled was priceless. They’d never even had it out in the field! When they tuned it to 1100 horsepower, that was in the museum, so it'd never even been out in the field pulling at 1100 horsepower. We had a great time.




When the Williams brothers made it back out to Montana with Big Bud, they were all anxious to get some video of it turning dirt again. The tractor pulls this massive 80-foot cultivator chisel plow behind it, which is unheard of — it’s just phenomenal.

Robert Williams said when they got Big Bud out there and they opened it up pulling that 80-foot cultivator at nine miles an hour (also unheard of) he said that the tractor didn't perform like it was even pulling a cultivator behind it. It wasn't slipping at all. Robert said it was almost like Big Bud was just happy to be back out again 

For me, it was really cool to see him enjoying getting this piece of history back out in the field, and also to get the Williams and the Welkers together — their relationship is continuing, they’ve since gotten together in Montana. And the Williams even approached us on another project for one of their smaller 650 Big Buds and suggested working with the Welkers again. We have more details to hammer out, but that’s something to look forward to soon.


Do you have a unique project that needs a BIG upgrade in tires? I’d love to help. You can reach me at or on Twitter @ScottSloan6164.

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