RCMP used an excavator to slowly dig out from around the buried Steiger in June 2012.
(The following story originally published Oct. 20, 2013, at www.grainews.ca. It appears with permission of the publisher and author. Click here to read the original report by Dave Bedard, online editor for the AGCanada.com Network in Winnipeg.)
For a few days in the summer of 2012 it may have been the most famous tractor in Western Canada, though it would never pull an implement again.
But a southern Manitoba equipment dealer who bought the 2009 Case IH Steiger 485 says the unit, long since dismantled for parts, could possibly have been put back in use -- even after it languished for months completely buried in manure.
When it was reported missing on Dec. 21, 2010 from Leo's Sales and Service in the RM of Rosser, just northwest of Winnipeg, the Steiger Quadtrac was valued at about $300,000.
Needless to say, the tractor had depreciated by the time it was found in early June last year. RCMP from Fisher Branch -- about 150 km north of Rosser -- followed a Crime Stoppers tip to a farm in the RM of Fisher, southwest of the town.
RCMP said they took out a search warrant, hired an excavator and, over the next couple of days, found the tractor "buried underneath a 12- to 15-foot manure pile on the property."
RCMP photos of the dig were widely circulated. The tale of the tractor's discovery made nationwide news and was the second-most viewed story on AGCanada.com in 2012.
The photos show a tractor in which the cab's glass broke under the weight of the burial. "The pile of manure was like a sponge to water," and water had collected in the unit's major cavities, Gerald Grandmont of Leo's later recalled.
The tractor's insurer had already settled with Leo's for the unit after it had disappeared, he said, thus the insurance company owned the recovered tractor. It was put up for salvage tender, thus wouldn't be put back into service, he added.
However, the 534-horsepower tractor could conceivably have run again, according to Bernie Chabot of Chabot Implements of Elie, Man., which bought the Steiger from the insurance company for parts.
Service staff at the dealership hooked up a battery to the unit and were able to restart it, Chabot said. Two offers came in to buy the tractor whole, he said, but in any case it turned out to be worth more as parts. The engine, transmission and rear end and other major components were all salvaged and sold.
"We thought (the damage) would be worse than that," he said, noting a bit of rusting.