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South Texas Living

My ‘Cat’ lives in an Austrian castle

My ‘Cat’ lives in an Austrian castle
Larry Boening’s 1931 Caterpillar Model 30 wide-gauge tractor is now part of a farm equipment collection in the Historische Landtechnick Österreich Museum in Leiben Castle in Austria.

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November 28, 2012
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Hobson resident Larry Boening came to the Wilson County News with an interesting tale of his “Cat” that left Texas to haunt the halls of a castle in Austria ...

I am a farm equipment mechanic and have been since 1968, when I started working for my uncle, who had an Allis Chalmers dealership. I quit there in 1979 to open my own business. I have restored quite a few tractors and other equipment over the years, for myself and other people.

A while back, I bought a 1931 Caterpillar Model 30 wide-gauge tractor from a farmer close to home. He used it to pull stumps and did some plowing with it. It had been sitting quite a while and I had to do some work to get the tracks loose. But I got it to my shop and got the engine freed up.

I sent the carburetor and magneto off to Jim Zimmerman to get rebuilt. I went through the engine and the track system and got it all painted, and had a new seat installed and put some rubber pads on each track pad. This way, it is a dream to load and unload from a trailer, and does no damage to asphalt or concrete.

The tractor has appeared in different shows in the area. At one show, Peter Holt, the great-grandson of Benjamin Holt (of Holt-Caterpillar, the manufacturers), was there and autographed my tractor.

In 2009, I took a trip to Germany to visit some friends there. We toured the countryside and visited some beautiful churches.

Then we went to Austria to visit a friend of theirs, Martin Trausnitz. He is a member of a tractor club, and some of the members of the club have some of their equipment on display in a museum, housed in a castle owned by the village of Leiben.

The Historische Landtechnick Österreich Museum will be 900 years old in 2013. It contains all kinds of farm equipment and other antique items. The farm equipment part has a little of everything pertaining to farming. A majority of the tractors are German-made, or from other countries in that area. But they also have some American-made tractors, such as a John Deere B and an old Fordson.

Well, Mr. Trausnitz came to the United States in September 2011, and came to visit me at my shop and home, to see some of my farm equipment collection. He fell in love with my 1931 Cat 30 and offered to buy it for the museum.

We made a deal. I sold it for less than I wanted, but I thought that it would be great to have something I restored in a museum -- and in another country, to boot!

After all the paperwork was through, on Feb. 21, 2012, a shipping container was brought to my shop in Hobson, and some friends helped me load the Cat into the container, along with two other tractors Mr. Trausnitz bought -- a Moline and a Case -- and two hit-and-miss engines.

The container left Hobson for Houston to be loaded onto a ship bound for Germany, set to leave Feb. 29. From Germany, it traveled by rail to Austria, to arrive by March 29.

Mr. Trausnitz called me March 30, to let me know everything arrived on time and all in one piece.

Now, instead of on a farm in Texas, my “Cat” lives in a castle in Austria.

I guess I will have to make another trip back there to see my old tractor again.

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