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Steiger Stories

A Big Cat in the Family Stays in the Family

Our Steiger tractor story—and how it came to our farm—began at the Coles County Fairgrounds in the summer of 1981.

Terrydale Farms | Charleston, IL
I hope you like long stories.

Terrydale Farms’ 1981 Steiger Panther PTA 310 152-000084

To be fair, this is a tale almost 42 years in the making–and still going. Our Steiger tractor story—and how it came to our farm—began at the Coles County Fairgrounds in the summer of 1981.  Mattoon Farm Service displayed this very tractor in the big machinery show that was common at county fairs back then. Mattoon Farm Service owner, Delbert Diepholz, had just added the Steiger Tractor line to its brand offerings which already included Massey Ferguson equipment. As displayed, the tractor was hooked up to a red and white 40’ Wil-rich field cultivator. We not only purchased that big Steiger Panther, but we also purchased the displayed cultivator and a 10-bottom on-land Wil-rich plow to use in the fall.

Our need for this beast was due to expanded acreage; this meant we required more power than our White Field Boss four-wheel-drives had. The founder of Terrydale Farms, my Grandpa Bill Furry, was very impressed; this tractor was exceptionally large in comparison to any tractor in the area at the time. After considering ordering the more economical  and smaller Steiger Cougar, Bill was convinced by his wife, Wanda, to go ahead and get the bigger tractor, as it was already there. Shortly after the fair, Grandpa Bill and Delbert Diepholz shook hands, and the Steiger Panther was brought home to Terrydale Farms.

For the first ten years, the Steiger worked diligently at about every demanding task you could think of—from pulling the big field cultivator and the ten-bottom moldboard plow to chisel plowing and ripping.  Within the first couple years, Grandpa Bill Furry also installed a 14’ Leon Mfg. dozer blade to the Panther to do dirt and snow moving in a quick fashion around the farm. With the other tractors on the farm being under 200 horsepower, we depended on the Steiger to take on a very heavy workload and to cover a lot of acres for many years.

After a very busy first decade, our farm, like some others, shifted to much less aggressive tillage, slowing down the work pace for the Panther. That didn’t mean the Panther was in any way retired; we quickly found it a new and regular job pulling our Great Plains 30’ no-till drill. The Steiger Panther handled the very heavy drill with much less problem than our row crop front-wheel-assist tractors (FWAs). As we moved into the new millennium, we actually went back into more tillage on our farm. As our Steiger approached its 20th year, it was apparent with the way we were operating that we needed more horsepower on the farm. Should we remove the Panther from our fleet?  The thought of trading in our Panther didn’t last ten seconds! Bill’s wife, Wanda, and son-in -law / farming partner, Bob Easton (my dad), flat out said “NO WAY!!” So, when our red Case IH STX 375 Steiger showed up, the Panther was lightly semi-retired. By 2001, it had just enough free time to give the old tractor a nice 20th birthday present – a full repainting in Steiger green!

Being an older tractor with dwindling dealer support presents challenges in keeping it running. Fortunately, in Central Illinois, we have the Beerys1 and their associates. The late master of Steiger Mechanics, John Beery, kept the Panther running strong for years. His son, Michael, later replaced the original Cummins engine (that we unfortunately had “detonated”) with a very meticulous rebuild.

In the years since, many tractors on our farm have come and gone but our Steiger Panther is the basis for our farm’s logo and is considered a family heirloom.

Left: Todd received this beautiful metal artwork from his wife for Christmas 2023, and this is what he had to say, “I’m the guy who didn’t need anything, yet she figured out what I needed!”

Above: The Steiger Panther and two Case IH Steiger tractors at Terrydale Farms, Charleston, IL.

1 SHOUT OUT TO THE BEERY’S!! As noted in Todd’s story, the late John Beery and his son, Michael helped keep his Panther running.  For more information about Michael Beery and his business, MJ Agri-Service, a company that focuses on keeping old Steiger tractors running, here is the link to the business website:

And, you can read this interesting story about the Beery’s in FARM SHOW magazine.