Allis chalmers lawn tractor. Allis chalmers lawn tractor

Allis chalmers lawn tractor

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

I bought this Allis Chalmers tractor from a guy who’s dad had restored them to factory like. The older fella went through the whole motor and rebuilt it. Went through the clutch and transmission. He restored all kinds of tractors Farmall, Allis Chalmers, Case, John Deere and more. Unfortunately he passed. He left all the tractors to his children.

I found the tractor listed on in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Aiden WeilerSchoolcraft, Michigan

If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!

Allis Chalmers D-21

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

This is our families Allis Chalmers D-21 series 2 that we have owned and used for over 30 years. When my grandfather purchased the tractor, him and my father restored it. We still use this tractor every year for fieldwork like discing and plowing. We love to also try and show it off every now and again when we get the chance.

This picture was taken at a family friend’s barn just down the road.

Harnishfeger FamilyFairland, IndianaTractor Photo Contest Winner

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

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My Father’s Allis Chalmers G

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

This 1948 Allis G was purchased in the early 1990s by my father. It sat in his barn still wearing its very neglected work clothes until his death in 2014. I told my family that I would like to have it to restore and keep because it was my Dads.

After 4 years of working on it in my spare time it is 99% complete. This was a fun project to do, to honor the man that taught me so much about mechanics and perseverance to complete this project.

Tom CreggerCascade, Maryland

If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!

Jesse and Grandpa’s Tractor Time

When my Grandson, Jesse, was less than a year old he began to ride with me on our tractors, and you could see the smile show his joy in anything tractor. He was born with a heart issue and spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital, but when he came home he was ready for a tractor ride.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

We had a Kubota cab tractor, John Deere skid steer, Farmall H, and I bought a Farmall Cub just for him. He loved to work on the tractors, fix flat tires, and bush hog the pastures. Every Friday at the end of a long work week, I would get a cold beer, Jesse would get a Root Beer and we would ride the tractors, he called it Tractor Beer Friday. This became a tradition that I will always cherish because Jesse passed away recently at 4 ½ years old from a ruptured artery.

He may not physically be with me but he is always riding with me on the Farmall Cub, observing Tractor Beer Friday.

Thomas R. ShirleyPendleton, South Carolina

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48 Allis Chalmers G

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

As a boy growing up on a cotton farm in Arkansas, I remember an old man that drove his little Allis G from town to a field near our home. He would pull a little wagon with some implements on it to use during the day. From the seat of an old Super M Farmall, I would pine over one day getting me one of those little tractors.

This is my 1948 Allis Chalmers model G. I rebuilt it from the ground up. The little 4 cylinder Continental engine purrs like a kitten. What is interesting, while cultivating the corn in one of the pictures, my wife and I could hold a conversation. A quiet little thing. I reminisce about that old man 50 years ago, every time I drive my G.

What I wouldn’t give now for that old Super M of my grandfathers. Both great tractors.

Jefferson SlinkardLincoln, Arkansas

If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!

The Last Chapter

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

When the call came that a set of tractor tires was ready for pickup, I made a quick trip to the tire shop and then met Van at his shop. In a couple of hours’ time we had the tires mounted to the tractor and then stepped back to admire the total results of our labor. It looked like a million bucks or at least a lot more than the two thousand that we had invested in it. If it would run as well as it looked, I’m sure that Grandpa Lee would be proud of us. I got the crank and started cranking on the engine. When I got tired, Van took over cranking the engine. When he got tired, we checked the fuel, the spark, and the timing. Everything seemed right. I tried cranking it again and after some frustrating minutes, decided to call it quits. I would go home for lunch and then return later, and Van and I would try pulling it to start it. I reasoned that the engine was pretty stiff from the rebuild and might require towing to get it started just as it had after the previous rebuild.

I was eating a sandwich when I got the call from Van that he had gotten the tractor started It was running fine except for one major problem – the gauge was registering no oil pressure. Being that the gauge was the original gauge, I assumed that it was gummed up and not functioning properly. That was my hope. When I arrived back at Van’s shop, an investigation proved that the gauge was not the problem. From reading Allis Chalmers repair forums, I had learned that after an engine rebuild, the oil pump sometimes needed to be primed. We tried priming the pump but had no success. The joy that I had felt when Van had informed me that he had gotten the tractor started disappeared and turned to utter despair as I faced the predicament confronting me now. The oil pump would have to be checked to find the cause of the problem, and that would mean splitting the tractor to gain access to the pump.

On most engines, the oil pump is located inside the engine and can be accessed by removing the oil pan. On the 1938 Allis Chalmers model B, the oil pump is located on the back of the engine behind the flywheel. In order to get at it, we would have to unbolt the back half of the tractor from the engine and then remove the clutch and the flywheel to allow us to unbolt the oil pump. I didn’t know how removing the pump and checking it would solve the problem because I had thoroughly checked the pump during the engine rebuilding process. Still, the pump needed to be rechecked, so disassembly began.

As I was removing the oil pump, I congratulated myself on my decision not to use gasket sealer when I had installed the pump so that I could reuse the gasket in the event that the pump would have to later be removed. Instead of patting myself on the back, I should have been kicking myself in the butt because using the sealer would have prevented the problem. If I would have used gasket sealer, I would have noticed the small piece of old gasket still in place on the engine. This piece of gasket was providing an air leak that prevented the pump from priming itself. Disgusted at my failure, I scraped the mounting surface clean and remounted the pump using gasket sealer. Once the tractor was reassembled, Van cranked the engine and it started. importantly, there was oil pressure. Another lesson learned the hard way.

I have a video of Van driving the tractor with his five year old son, Nolan. I watch it often. It is very rewarding watching Grandpa Lee’s tractor running so well and looking so fine. However, it is not the tractor’s performance and appearance that makes me happiest. The smile on Nolan’s face is what really lights up my heart. It is my Grandpa Lee’s smile. That smile is a tribute to the perseverance and hard work that went into the fifty-five year process of fulfilling a dream. There were setbacks along the way and even times when the dream was nearly abandoned. I have my son, Van, to thank for keeping the dream alive, and the folks at Steiner Tractor parts for helping me through the setbacks with their expertise and thoughtful help. They went above and beyond the service I would expect from a tractor parts dealer. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture is worth ten thousand words.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!

Out of Retirement – Again

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

The autumn months were fast approaching, and I knew that it was crucial for me to get going on the restoration project if it was going to be painted before the weather turned too cold. At my request, Van loaded all of the parts he had stored in his shop onto his trailer and delivered them to my shop. After a careful inspection, I determined that all of the parts would be suitable to use on the Allis tractor’s restoration. Of course they couldn’t be perfect, even with the skills I had acquired in my fifty years of bodywork experience. The parts were all original which aged them at over eighty years old, and there was no way I could make them look like new. However, they would be presentable if they were sandblasted, primed, and painted. The important factor was that they had been a part of the tractor when my grandpa rode that tractor, and they would be a part of that tractor when his great-great-grandkids rode that tractor. I bought several bags of blasting sand and spent the next couple of weeks sandblasting the parts.

At this time I would like to emphasize the fact that sandblasting car parts, or tractor parts, or any kind of parts for that matter, was not my favorite restoration activity. With my do-it-yourself equipment, the process was slow, tedious, and dirty. Working for hours with heavy gloves, a mask, face shield, and hot clothing is pretty tough on a seventy year old man. I set up tarps to collect the sand once it had been blasted so that I could reuse it again and again. I learned by trial and error that before the sand could be reused, it needed to be spread out on tarps under the sun so that it was completely dry. Otherwise it tended to clog up the blasting unit which resulted in a frustrating disassembly procedure followed by an equally frustrating reassembly procedure. By working daily four hour shifts, the pile of orange parts was at last transformed into a pile of gray parts.

I knew that I still needed to get parts that were still attached to the tractor like the axle and the members that held that axle to the tractor, so I made a trip to Van’s shop and with his help, the axle as well as the engine were removed. I was anxious to get the parts needed for an engine rebuild ordered, so we started disassembling the engine. I was pleasantly surprised when the valve cover was removed because the top of the head seemed to be in pristine condition. The rocker-shaft and arms were as good as the day I had installed them forty years prior. There was some anxiety as the head was unbolted because I anticipated rusty worn cylinders which shouldn’t have really caused anxiety because they were going to be replaced anyway. To my complete surprise, the cylinders appeared perfect. In addition, there was not one crack in the webbing between the cylinders which was a very common occurrence with the Allis Chalmers B engines. There was no ridge on the cylinders, and a check with my measuring instruments revealed that each cylinder had about ten thousandths wear. The manual recommended replacement when wear exceeded twelve thousandths, so a decision would have to be made.

Being that a complete restoration was being done to the tractor, I naturally wanted the engine to perform like new, so both Van and I were inclined to replace the cylinder liners in spite of the fact that they were marginally acceptable. Most of the later model B Allis engines had a bore diameter of 4.375 inches. Van’s tractor was a very early model with 4.250 cylinder bores. Liners for the larger bore were very easy to find but finding them for the smaller bore was quite a different matter. Try as I might, I could not locate them on the internet. Finally, I contacted Steiner Tractor Parts to enlist their aid because they had come through for me before. They informed me that the smaller liners were very scarce but that they would find them for me if I wanted them. They also informed me that the cost could be very high. That information, along with the fact that this particular Allis would have very limited use, settled the decision as to whether or not to replace the cylinder liners. We decided that the little Allis would be very happy with her original liners. Meanwhile, back at our engine inspection procedure, main bearing caps were removed to check the crankshaft journals. Visually, they appeared as fine as the day they were reground forty years ago. Plastigauge was used to check clearances which measured at two-thousandths of an inch for each journal. The main journals were nearly perfect and after a similar test, the rod journals proved to be just as good. The pistons were removed, and they along with their corresponding rings underwent a rigorous examination. They all passed the test with flying colors. The anticipated high cost for an engine rebuild was thankfully quickly declining. At this point, the only required expense was a gasket set for about seventy bucks. Unfortunately, the good news stopped when the camshaft was inspected.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

Of the engines that I had rebuilt prior to the Allis engine, there was only one that had required new camshaft bearings. Being that I didn’t have the equipment or the experience to change these particular bearings, I had farmed the work out to a machine shop. When I removed the camshaft and lifters from the Allis engine, I was relieved to find that both the lifters and the cam were in useable condition. The bearings were quite another matter, and I knew that if they were not replaced the engine would soon fail. The question was whether I would take the engine to a machine shop or attempt the repair myself. I decided that I would add cam bearing installation to my list of accomplishments.

From my internet research, I was very familiar with the bearing replacement procedure. The original bearing were knocked out and the new bearings were knocked in using extreme care to insure that the oil holes in the bearings aligned perfectly with the oil holes in the engine block. The question was how do you go about knocking the “old” out and the “new” in? It was apparent that a special tool would be needed to perform the “knocking” procedure, so I turned one out on my metal lathe. With this tool, I was able to very easily knock out the old bearings. The tricky and crucial part was installing the new bearings. Marks were precisely placed on the bearings and the holes in the block where they would reside. By perfectly aligning the marks and carefully driving the bearings into place with my installation tool, the job was completed with professional results. With the bottom half of the engine completed, the only job remaining was to recondition the head.

I took the head to my shop and completely disassembled it, placing all the parts in a special storage jig I had constructed to insure that each part went into its original position in the head. I had a valve seat grinding tool that I had used on small engines and luckily it could be expanded to grind the seats on the Allis head. The valves were cleaned from all carbon deposits and then tested in the guides. The fit was very good. I didn’t have the equipment to grind the valves so I hand lapped them to the seats. Afterwards they were given the leak test and every valve prevented leakage. The completed head was set aside until it could be installed on the engine. With most of the precision engine work completed, it was time to go do some more blasting.

Once the front axle and its associated parts had been cleaned of rust and old paint, most of the parts were in good shape and ready for some new paint. I had planned on using automobile primer and paint in order to give the little Allis the best appearance possible, so I headed for the auto parts store. The manager pulled out his book and found the correct Allis Chalmers color and then quoted me some prices. A gallon of paint with its required thinner and hardener would set me back three hundred and fifty bucks. The primer would be another hundred. I almost fell off the stool that I was sitting on. I informed the manager that show-quality paint probably wasn’t needed on an eighty year old tractor. He suggested that I use implement paint like they used in the old days. I got on the internet and found a gallon of genuine Allis Chalmers implement paint for thirty dollars. The Rustoleum primer cost me another thirty bucks. I was ready to do some painting.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

When a week of warm weather was forecast towards the end of September, I was ready to shoot some paint. Parts were arranged on sheets of plywood in the field by my shop, and I gave them two heavy coats of primer. The next day was spent lightly sanding the primer in preparation for the final orange coat. That coat was lovingly applied the following day. I was very impressed with the way that the implement paint went on. I sprayed a light coat to prevent runs and then started shooting some serious coats. I was amazed that the paint wouldn’t run and soon the dull surfaces started to shine. When I was finished, the results far exceeded my expectations. Unlike some of my previous auto paint jobs, there was no orange peel. The implement enamel produced excellent results without the hassle involved with the expensive car paints. While the warm weather persisted, I went to Van’s shop and the tractor engine block and body were painted with similar excellent results. A day later, I was in my shop congratulating myself on the fine looking tractor that was evolving. Grandpa Lee would be proud, but then I think that Grandpa twisted my head until I spotted it – the steering wheel.

The steering wheel had always been a questionable part of the Allis Chalmers model B tractor. It was in truly deplorable shape. The outer rim had chunks of rubber missing while cracks ran deep in the remaining rubber. Inside spokes, devoid of the protective rubber, were pitted with rust. Van had checked and found replacement steering wheels on the internet for thirty-five dollars plus shipping. After talking to him, I got on my computer and found those same steering wheels. They were guaranteed to fit perfectly. I was about to hit the “Buy” button when a vision entered my mind of Grandpa gripping the steering wheel of his tractor as he maneuvered it around his garden. Call me a sentimental old fool but I couldn’t shake that picture from my mind. At that moment I declared that my grandkids were going to be gripping the same steering wheel that their great-great-grandfather had gripped. Time to go to work again – Grandpa.

After contemplating several options to restore the steering wheel, I selected the one that seemed to offer the best result and got started. The first step was to take a hammer and unceremoniously knock all of the hardened cracked rubber off the outer rim. Now I was left with a steel rim connected to a center section by three rusty spokes. A wire wheel removed the rust and then it was time to build up the outer rim to its former dimensions. Menards sold a product that was used to replace and restore rotted wood in buildings. The material was a plastic that wouldn’t shrink or expand and was impervious to weather. It was similar to auto body putty but had a longer working time and was designed to be applied in thick layers. I thought that it would be perfect for my intended use and proceeded to apply it to the outer rim of the steering wheel. It went on pretty rough but after some rasping and sanding, it looked acceptable. The final step was to apply a heavy coat of black Flex-Seal brush-on rubber over the entire wheel. When it had cured, I had a steering wheel that looked like new, and it only cost me three hours of my time and forty dollars in materials. When I left my shop, I turned off the lights and said, “that one’s for you, Grandpa.”

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

Before I mounted the steering column and refurbished steering wheel to the tractor, I figured that it was time to take care of the wheels and tires. As I stated previously, Van had decided to mount all new tires on the tractor of the correct size. He had ordered the best tires he could find online, and the purchase had set him back nearly a thousand dollars. That act alone told me that he was pretty serious about his great-grandfather’s tractor. A fine set of tires deserved to be mounted on some fine rims and that would prove to be a major problem.

I had taken all of the mounted tires to a tire shop to have the tires taken off the rims. The rims would be taken to my shop, sandblasted, primed, and painted. Once they were the fine rims that this tractor deserved, they would be returned to the tire shop, and Van’s thousand dollar tires would be put on. When the call came from the tire shop that the rims were ready, I went to pick them up. When I saw them, I was met with some major disappointment. The rims looked like the eighty years old rims that they were, so a plan was needed to restore them to their youth. Both rear rims would require some serious sandblasting and then a minor brazing job to repair a couple of cracks and a few pinholes. With some heavy primer and paint they should almost sparkle. One front wheel was in about the same condition as the rear rims and would receive similar treatment. The other front wheel was a disaster and presented another major problem. The rim was beyond repair. Numerous cracks and rust holes were too large to braze and would make properly mounting a new tire impossible. I considered buying new wheels but I could not find wheels that were riveted rather than bolted to the bearing housing. If new wheels were bought, new spindles and bearing housings would also be needed. Besides being costly, the new setup would not be correct on a 1938 tractor. I needed a better solution. My good friend, Scott Swanson, solved my problem.

I mentioned Scott in a previous section where he provided a like-new bumper for Dad’s Chevy truck. Scott is the most knowledgeable farmer that I have ever known. Besides farming, Scott taught a high school Ag class and also served as a field man for a major dairy. Scott was a successful farmer because he maintained his old farm equipment rather than buying new. To keep his machinery running, he had acquired a vast stockpile of used parts. In this stockpile, he happened to have a wheel with the exact size rim that I needed. I could cut the rims off the old tractor wheel and Scott’s new wheel and then weld the good rim on the center section of the old wheel. That’s exactly what I did, and the problem was solved.

The rear rims and front wheels were sandblasted and then the defects were repaired. Once the primer and paint had been sprayed, they were very presentable. I would never be ashamed to drive them to a tractor show. They were returned to the tire dealer to have the tires put on, and the dealer’s approval of my work made it all worthwhile. While I waited for the tires to be installed, I decided to tackle a task that I had long been avoiding – a brake job.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

The 1938 Allis Chalmers model B used hand brakes, that when applied, would tighten brake bands around steel drums. Of course they weren’t nearly as effective as a modern braking system, but they worked quite well to stop a little Allis. The present brakes on Van’s Allis couldn’t stop a toy tractor. I had watched videos demonstrating the procedure to replace the brake bands. It was a simple procedure made almost impossible by the fact that over time, rust has a tendency to weld steel parts together. The pins securing the brake bands to the cast iron housing had to be removed to get the bands out, and the videos that I watched required a heating torch, a large hammer with an equally large punch, and hours of hammering. Just watching that video had pushed the brake job to the back of my list of things to do.

Being that the jobs on that list had mostly been crossed off, I got a big hammer and went to work. Just a few blows knocked two of the pins out, and I guessed that I had vastly overrated the difficulty of the task. The remaining two pins wiped that notion from my mind. Just as I was about to fire up my torch in desperation, one of the pins budged and then moved a little more with each hammer blow. When it popped out, my success led me to deliver even heavier blows to the lone remaining pin, and it too popped out. With a heavy bar, I was able to pry out both rusted brake bands. An hour later, the large mouse nests surrounding both brake drums had been removed, and I went to work reconditioning the drums. Sanding belts were snaked around the drums and pressure was applied while I turned the rear axle. In time the rust was removed, and the sanding belts were replaced by new brake bands. Another job was crossed off the list.

As the tractor restoration was nearing completion, I looked back over that list to relive some of my experiences. Parts such as the carburetor, the magneto, the steering gear, and the water pump had all been rebuilt and were functioning properly. The excessive wear in the front axle and spindles had been eliminated. All of the engine work was completed but could not be evaluated until the engine was actually running. The radiator had been reconditioned and tested for leaks. All of the tractor’s steel had been sanded, primed and painted, and then bolted back together. Grandpa’s steering wheel looked as good as new mounted to the column. The seat that grandpa had bounced around his garden on, had been repaired and varnished and mounted with new bolts so that it looked better than it ever had. The braking system functioned as well as it had the day it rolled out of the factory. I smiled when I noticed that there were just two items on the list that didn’t have a line drawn through them – mount the wheels and start the tractor. Very soon it would be determined if my final restoration project would be a success.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

The Third Time is the Charm

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

On those rare occasions when I found the need to be in the machine shed on Mom’s farm, I would check out the little Allis resting forlornly in the corner. There was always the temptation to grab the crank and try to start it up, but knowing that the procedure would tax my arms and most likely prove to be futile, led me to ignore the temptation. For the next twenty years my little Allis was largely ignored in her corner of the shed.

One weekend my son, Van, happened to be with me on a visit to my mom’s place, and we found ourselves doing an errand for Mom in the machine shed. For some reason, the little orange tractor in the corner captured Van’s attention, and he moved in for a close inspection. After climbing onto the seat, he looked over at me. “What’s the story on the tractor?” he asked.

“Well, that tractor has quite the story,” I answered, and then began a history lesson starting from the first time that I saw Grandpa Lee working his garden with the tractor and culminating with my son perched on the tractor’s seat.

“That is quite a story,” Van said after I had finished my presentation. “Do you think I could start it and maybe take it for a spin around the field?”

I shook my head. “Nah, there’s no gas in the tank, and the engine hasn’t run for years. We could spend all day trying to get it to run and probably not succeed. Right now we’ve got more urgent matters to attend to. We should get going.”

I winced at the dejected look on Van’s face as he climbed from the seat and then remembered an offer Grandpa Lee had made to a high school kid. I made that same offer to my son. “The tractor is yours if you want it,” I said.

The smile on his face was what I had hoped it would be. “I think that I will take you up on that offer,” he replied. “Someday I will get that tractor running.”

That “someday” would be a long time in the coming. In the ensuing years Van would finish his college education and take a job with Menards, serving as a construction manager responsible for supervising the construction of new store buildings. After a couple of years of traveling around the country to help Menards expand its business, Van met and married his wife, Jessica. Not wanting to be on the road away from his wife, Van quit his job at Menards and found employment with a local electrical contracting business. Van and his wife bought a house, built a nice shop building, and started a family. With all that going on, who would have thought that Van still had a little orange tractor on his mind?

I believe the year was 2019 when Van came to me with a request for my help. I’ve got a nice heated shop building,” he began. “My company has a large trailer they said I could use. How about you and me taking a trip to Grandma’s house and bringing home the Allis tractor you said I could have?”

His proposal, though unexpected, was welcomed. My brother had recently asked me what I wanted to do with the orange tractor taking up space in the machine shed. I didn’t have an answer for him. I certainly didn’t have a need for a tractor that would take some time and money to get running. I had contemplated selling it, but then again, it had once belonged to Grandpa Lee, and that fact saddened me every time I saw it deteriorating in the corner of the shed. Van’s suggestion to haul it to his shop and get it back to running order was an answer to my dilemma.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

Bright and early Saturday morning we were on the road to Mom’s house. We loaded up the eighty year old Allis Chalmers model B and hauled it to Van’s shop. Once it was rolled off the trailer and into the shop, I grabbed a tablet and began taking notes on what would be required make that tractor look and run like it had eighty years ago. The engine that hadn’t run in close to thirty years was my first concern. Even though it turned over with the crank, I anticipated that it would require a complete over-haul. The crank would probably need to be reground and new pistons, rings, and bearings would have to be bought. I was pretty sure that the cylinder liners would also have to be replaced because they were eighty years old and who ever heard of an eighty year old engine that had never had any work done on the cylinders? A complete engine rebuilding kit including cylinder liners would cost about six hundred bucks. The brakes on the tractor no longer functioned, probably due to the fact that they had never been serviced in eighty years. New brake bands would solve that problem if the old ones could be removed. The steering was very loose, so the steering gear would need some work, and the steering wheel was completely shot. Luckily, replacements were readily available. The front spindles as well as the bushings they rode in were badly worn and would need to go to a machine shop to be rebuilt. Fortunately, the rear tire rims were in useable condition, but one of the front rims would need to be replaced due to the numerous rust holes present. The rear tires were in fair condition but undersized, so Van determined that they would be replaced.

When I had previously repaired the engine, Dad had bought new tires for the tractor, but the correct size had not been in stock, so he settled for a smaller size. The tires had functioned well with the little use that they had been exposed to and were still serviceable, but Van wanted his great-grandfather’s tractor to ride on the correct tires. “I’m going to put new tires on the front also,” he declared. His determination to equip the tractor with proper tires raised the bar I had set in my mind for the tractor’s restoration to a little higher level.

With most of the expensive repair items listed on my notepad, I began to jot down the smaller repairs. The carburetor as well as the magneto would have to be disassembled and inspected. New spark plugs and wires would definitely be required but that was about all that would be needed because the electrical system was so simple. A new muffler was in order, and the manifold had a corner broken off, but I was confident that I could repair it in my shop. The clutch components couldn’t be evaluated until we split the tractor, but I was pretty sure that they were in good shape being that I had replaced all of the parts on my prior engine repair. The transmission had always performed flawlessly, and the gears still shifted smoothly, so I assumed that no work other than an inspection would be needed.

With all of the mechanical estimates in place along with a new set of tires, I guessed that Van and I were about to sink close to three thousand dollars into Grandpa’s little Allis. This total did not include any bodywork because up to this point I had not considered any bodywork. How much bodywork do you need to perform on an eighty year old tractor that probably won’t be used more than a few hours a year? As I stated previously, when Van decided that the tractor would need new tires to look proper, my restoration bar had been raised a few notches. When I realized that my grandchildren would one day be driving their great-great-grandfather’s cherished tractor, the bar was raised a whole lot. I would use all of the skills I had developed over my fifty years of automobile bodywork to make Grandpa’s little Allis something that would surprise even Grandpa Lee.

During the fall of 2019, Van officially began the reconstruction, or maybe deconstruction would be a better term, of one 1938, serial number B9047, Allis Chalmers model B tractor. All of the body panels and parts that could be removed from the main tractor frame were removed and placed on pallets. All the bolts and small parts were labeled and placed in small sandwich bags so that they would not be lost and so that they would eventually find their rightful place on the restored tractor. Van must have heard my tales of woe about missing parts when I was working on some of my rebuild projects. Every part of his tractor would be available when it was needed. His great.grandpa would have been proud of him. I asked Van to box up the manifold, magneto, and carburetor so that I could take them to my shop and work on them.

I ordered rebuild kits for both the carburetor and magneto. While I was waiting for them to arrive, I went to work on the broken manifold. Somehow a corner with one of the mounting bolt holes had broken off. I reasoned that I could repair it quite easily by brazing a proper sized nut where the missing piece had once been. Once the proper sized nut had been found and carefully brazed in place, the manifold was as good as new- or almost as good as new. I sprayed it with some black manifold paint and baked it in my wife’s oven when she wasn’t around. When I pulled it out of the oven, it was as good as new.

Repairing the carburetor turned out to be a pretty simple task compared to some of the automobile carburetors that I had rebuilt. In fact it was more comparable to rebuilding a lawnmower carburetor. 1938 carburetor technology was not very complex, and being that both the choke and throttle shafts were not worn, the rebuild involved only a thorough cleaning and installation of the new parts in the kit.

The magneto rebuild had concerned me much more than the carburetor rebuild because I had had no experience rebuilding tractor magnetos. The engine from an airplane that I was building had two magnetos very similar to the tractor magneto, but I had taken them to a magneto shop to have rebuilt, so I had learned very little from that experience. I often tell my grandkids that we learn best by doing. It was time for me to get to “doing”. Of course the first step was to watch a computer video on magneto rebuilding several times. When I understood everything that my instructor was trying to teach me, I went to my shop to put my newly acquired knowledge to the test. I guess that I passed the test because when I had everything cleaned and assembled, and when I turned the magneto shaft, a half-inch long spark jumped the gap. At this point there was nothing to do but to box up a carburetor, a magneto, and a manifold and wait for Christmas when Van would receive some special gifts.

Christmas has always been a special time for our family when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus. We commemorate God’s great gift to us by giving gifts to those that we love. Most of those gifts are bought in a store, wrapped up, and put under the tree. On Christmas, the kids excitedly tear open the presents and joyfully play with their toys. In time the toys are broken, or discarded, or put away in boxes, and lost to the memory. The special gift is the gift that will be cherished for years and will forever hold a memory. Those are the gifts that I like to give. One day, years from now, when I am but a memory, one of my grandkids will take their son or daughter out to the shop to see a little orange tractor. They will point to the manifold and say, “there’s a story about how your great- grandpa fixed that.”

With the winter months work slowed, or I should say came to a halt on the little Allis. The spring brought a new addition to Van’s family-a little girl to join his two sons, and as is the case with most great fathers, Van’s time and attention were focused on his family while his personal projects were neglected. Among those projects was a tractor named Allis. The months passed. The weather grew colder. The snow fell, and it was Christmas once more. This time Van received a couple of tractor spindles with bushings, a muffler, and a set of brake bands. The gifts were not a demand that he get to work immediately on a delayed project. They were meant only to be a gentle reminder that there was another girl in his life named Allis that needed some of his attention. The early months of 2021 passed and Allis wasn’t getting her attention.

I believe that I was attending the first birthday party for Van’s daughter, Claire, when I happened to go to his shop to check on his tractor. It was still there with all of its parts neatly arranged on pallets and nuts and bolts resting in packages on shelves. I didn’t frown on Van’s lack of progress on the tractor’s restoration, rather I was gladdened by the fact that he was truly a great father. I knew how disappointed he was not having the time to work on the project that he really wanted to work on. Of course he could have made the time but then his family would have suffered. Van was putting his family first which is what great fathers do. I told myself that the tractor can wait. At that moment, I realized that I too had put off projects until I could find the time to work on them. My Mustang had sat in my field for over twenty years until I retired from my teaching job and found the time to work on it. I realized that in a few years I probably wouldn’t be able to help Van complete the restoration on Allis. Maybe it was time for me to take action.

I had thought that My Mustang would be the last restoration project that I would attempt. When I had completed it, I was sure that it would be the last project because the work had truly tested my strength and endurance. I had passed the test, but it was a test that I didn’t want to take again. Then I was faced with the dilemma of my dad’s Chevy truck going to the salvage yard. If it was just a Chevy truck there would have been no dilemma. It would have gone to the salvage yard without a second thought, but it was Dad’s Chevy truck, and it got a second thought and a third thought and then a restoration. That restoration really taxed my sixty-eight year old body, but it was an experience I would never regret. Every day that I was working on that truck, I was thinking about my dad. Treasured memories that I had lost, returned to me. Often times I even caught myself talking to Dad. Luckily, only he was there to hear me or the project would never have been completed. The men in the white suits would have taken me away. In my heart I knew that if I were to start seriously working on a little orange tractor, memories of my Grandpa Lee would be with me each hour that I worked. Who knows, I might even have a little chat with Grandpa. It was time to get to work.

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A Boy’s Promise Fullfilled

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As time passed, Grandpa’s little Allis was pushed further and further back in my mind. I finished high school and then went on to college. I bought a car and expanded my mechanical abilities in my attempts to keep it on the road. The first section of my book gives a detailed account of those learning opportunities. That car took me to college for four years and after graduation, it took me to my construction job for another year. During that year’s time, I decided that maybe I would like to become a teacher and teach others the skills that I had learned thus far in my young life, so my car took me back to college for another year. After my second college graduation, I was offered a teaching job at a high school in northern Wisconsin. At the school, I was a one man Industrial Arts department. I taught woods, metals, drafting, electricity, gas engine repair, and any other manual arts that I thought the kids should learn. It was a perfect fit more me. I was expanding my own mechanical abilities while passing my knowledge on to others.

The first year passed with the usual trials and errors that beginning teachers experience, but I survived and was off to a great start my second year when I received the phone call that awakened memories of a promise I had made eight years ago. The voice on the other end of the line regretfully informed me that my beloved grandpa had died. In the days that followed leading up to his funeral, memories of Grandpa flooded my mind. The picture of him riding his tractor through his garden was one that just wouldn’t go away and then I realized that Grandpa’s tractor was still in my dad’s shed waiting for me to keep a promise.

When the weather warmed in the spring, I made a visit to my parent’s farm and naturally went to the machine shed to check on the little Allis. She still sat there just as I had left her over eight years ago. I climbed onto the seat and as I sat there, I realized that my knowledge of rebuilding engines had greatly expanded due to the lessons I had taught to my students. The shop where I taught also had the specialty tools that would be required to rebuild an engine. A plan began forming in my mind, and I smiled and nodded my head. It was a good plan, and I would start on it immediately.

When I headed back to my home Sunday evening, I had an Allis Chalmers model B engine in the trunk of my Mustang. Luckily, the little four cylinder engine only weighed a couple of hundred pounds, so it didn’t put too much strain on my car. In the morning, I took it to the school shop and had a couple of my students help me unload the engine onto a workbench. That same day, during my Gas Engines class, I demonstrated the procedure for completely disassembling a tractor engine. At the end of the class, all of the parts were neatly laid out on the bench in the proper order. Grandpa would have been proud of me.

The next day my Gas Engine’s class got a lesson on checking engine parts for wear. The cylinders were in amazing condition for an engine that was nearly forty years old. The walls were smooth and shiny and measured only a few thousandths inches of wear. The pistons were in similar condition and would definitely be reused, but the forty year old rings would be replaced. It didn’t take much of an inspection to determine that the crankshaft would have to be sent to the machine shop to be turned down. New bearings would be ordered when the crank’s final dimensions were known. The oil pump showed no signs of wear which is typical of oil pumps in well maintained engines, and I knew that Grandpa had maintained his engines. The rest of the components in the block consisting of the connecting rods, camshaft, and lifters were all in acceptable condition.

The head was completely disassembled just as the block had been, and the valves, lifters, springs, and keepers were tagged so that they all ended up in their original positions. The rocker-shaft was cracked and would have to be replaced and of course the valves and seats would need to be ground, but otherwise the head was good to go. I picked up a new rocker-shaft that night at the implement dealer, and the next day I demonstrated the proper way to grind valves and seats. I got the students involved by letting them hand-lap the valves to the seats. The next day in class, the head and its parts were reassembled, and the completed head was set aside until it could be installed on the block.

The following week, the reground crankshaft arrived with the news that the main journals were ground ten-thousandths under while the rod journals required twenty- thousandths to be removed. I made another trip to the implement dealer and picked up the proper bearings. My Gas Engines’ students honed the cylinders and then cleaned them until they passed my white gloves test. The crankshaft was installed, and main bearing clearances were checked with plastigauge to insure they met the tolerances. Pistons were installed with their new rings, and the rod bearings were also checked with plastigauge. Lifters and the cam shaft were slid into place making sure that the timing marks were aligned. Once the head was torqued to the block, the engine was ready to go home.

On my next trip to visit my parents, there was a rebuilt Allis Chalmers B engine in the trunk of my mustang. Dad was surprised when I opened the trunk and showed it to him. “Do you think it will run?” he asked with a tone of skepticism in his voice.

“It better,” I answered with a chuckle, “or my Gas Engines’ students will probably be looking for another teacher.”

With Dad’s help, the engine was back in its proper place in a couple of hours’ time. Water and anti-freeze were put in the radiator. Gas was put in the tank, and Dad smiled when I said, “don’t forget the oil.” I grabbed the crank and started pulling. I cranked that engine over until my arm was sore and only got a couple of sputters out of it.

“I guess your students are going to have to break in a new teacher,” Dad joked and then went over to his Jubilee and climbed into the seat. He started it up and then drove over to where I stood by the Allis and tossed me a chain. “Hook it up,” he said, “and I’ll give you a pull to see if it will start.”

I reasoned that the newly rebuilt engine could be stiff and hard to start and welcomed his suggestion. I hooked up the chain, climbed onto the seat, and slipped the gear shift into second gear. When I nodded, my head, Dad gave me a tug. He pulled me fifty yards but the engine only sputtered. Finally, I held up my hand to stop what was proving to be a futile effort. Shaking my head in frustration, I stepped off the tractor to more closely examine the engine. I focused my attention on the magneto and spark plugs and then I spotted something that made me shake my head a second time-this time in embarrassment. The plug wires were installed as if the number one cylinder was in the back of the engine instead of the front where it actually was. I quickly changed the wires remembering that the firing order was 1-2-4-3 from the FRONT of the engine. I climbed back onto the seat, gave Dad another nod, and in less than twenty feet the engine snapped to life and continued to run smoothly.

It’s amazing how much joy a simple thing such as a smoothly idling gas engine can bring to an individual. When you factor in the cost for parts and the hours of labor spent disassembling and then reassembling a mechanical thing, maybe that joy isn’t so amazing. What truly was amazing was the fact that Grandpa’s little Allis was running better than it had run in many years, and my dad and I wouldn’t and couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.

My dad now had two tractors to work his little forty acre farm where he raised sheep and pheasants. He used the Ford Jubilee for the field work and to pull the baler when he made hay. The Allis was used mainly to pull hay wagons to the barn where they were manually unloaded. When dad bought a used hay elevator, I surprised him with a PTO unit for the Allis tractor that I bought from a tractor salvage yard for seventy-five bucks. Now in addition to pulling wagons, the Allis could also power the elevator and that’s just what she did for the next twelve years.

It’s been said by many great minds that life should be lived each day to the fullest and that the joys that each day presents should be enjoyed to the fullest because one never knows when life will throw the clinker that will bring those days and those joys to an end. I experienced the joys of helping my dad on the farm that he loved so much. I felt the satisfaction of driving my grandpa’s tractor, pulling loads of prized alfalfa hay. Feelings of total happiness would overcome me as I watched the little Allis churning the bales up the elevator. All of those feelings came to an end May 20, 1991 – the day my dad died.

From forty acres of weeds, and broken fences, and dilapidated buildings, a young man and his wife, having little in this life other than love for each other and a dream, built a home and a beautiful farm. In my dad’s absence, the farm could not be the same because there was no one on this earth who could love it as much as he had or work so hard to make it prosper. Oh, the forty acres would continue to be a farm because my mom would have it no other way, but the sheep would be sold, and the pheasant pens tore down, and a little Allis Chalmers tractor would go back in the shed.

Grandpa’s Tractor

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Chapter One – Grandpa’s Gift

It had sat for nearly thirty years in my dad’s storage shed; unused since his death in 1991. The “it” in this case happened to be an old beat up model B Allis Chalmers tractor that had rolled off the assembly line in 1938. Being of that vintage, the tractor lacked any electrical system other than the magneto that provided the spark to the plugs to make the engine run. The engine put out an unimpressive twenty horse power and for that reason its work on the farm had consisted primarily of pulling hay wagons and powering the elevators. It performed these functions exceedingly well until its services were no longer required when the farming operations came to a halt at my dad’s passing. Overtime, the mice seemed to take a fancy to the forlorn tractor, and their numerous nests amplified the belief that the little Allis would never run again.

In time, as is the case with most storage sheds, this particular shed became overcrowded to the point where it was nearly impossible to maneuver safely inside it. Some things had to go, and the little Allis was at the top of the list. As a plan was being formulated as to the best way to get rid of the tractor, memories of that little Allis putt-putted into my mind and once there, would not leave. Those memories emphasized the fact that this tractor had a history, and based on that history, this tractor wasn’t going anywhere. This tractor had once been one of my Grandpa Lee’s prized possessions, and as such, it held a special place in my heart.

My Grandpa Lee had a great influence on my life, and I think of him often, even today, over forty years since his passing. I wrote about some of my experiences with him in a prior section of my book. He was a mechanic and passed some of his skills on to me, which I am grateful for and am still using to this day. Grandpa loved his grandkids. He loved fixing old cars, and refurbishing firearms and Grandpa loved his garden.

Grandpa Lee lived in a small house on over two acres of land located in the city of Blair, Wisconsin. His huge lot made him one of the largest landowners in the entire city, and he used his land to fulfill his passion for gardening. He grew strawberries, tomatoes, sweet corn, squash, green beans, potatoes, and melons. I can still picture him and my grandmother tending their garden. There was a giant soft maple tree next to that garden with several lawn chairs spaced under its shade. When the sun was too hot to be out in the garden, Grandpa and Grandma would retire to the shade and drink lemonade. As the years passed the garden grew in size and Grandpa bought a walk-behind-cultivator to help keep the weeds in control. During World War I Grandpa had suffered a knee injury which seemed to grow worse with age and eventually tending the garden, even with the aid of his mechanized cultivator, proved to be too taxing on his knee. The logical solution would have been to grow a much smaller garden because he and Grandma couldn’t begin to use all the produce they grew. Most was given away to their friends and neighbors in the city. Now Grandpa couldn’t consider the thought of diminishing his garden, so he went to the next logical solution-he bought a tractor with a plow and a cultivator. He fondly called the tractor his little Allis.

The next year, with the help of his Allis Chalmers B tractor, Grandpa’s garden was even bigger. In my memories, I still see Grandma hoeing her strawberries while Grandpa proudly cultivates the large field of corn with his tractor. The tradition continued for several years until advancing age and health problems proved that even the most favored of traditions will one day come to an end. One day Grandma and Grandpa were too worn out to go into their garden. One day the little Allis Chalmers quit running, and Grandpa Lee, master mechanic that he was, couldn’t muster up the energy to fix it. The little Allis sat under the shade of the maple tree.

I remember sitting under that tree next to the tractor talking with Grandpa one day. I was a sophomore in high school and sixteen years old at the time. Our conversation turned to the tractor, and I asked Grandpa why he didn’t get it running again.

“It’s old and wore out just like me,” He replied. “I don’t have a garden anymore, and the tractor just isn’t worth fixing.”

I could see his sad face, and I knew how much he had loved that tractor. It made me sad to sit there and realize that my grandpa was getting old and that he was no longer able to do some of the things that he loved to do. I loved my grandpa and wanted to raise his spirits. “I could fix it for you,” I offered hesitantly, realizing that with my limited mechanical skills such an offer was ridiculous. His answer surprised me.

“You get your dad to help you tow that tractor to your home and it’s yours. If you get it running, fine. If you don’t, maybe you’ll at least learn something about tractors.”

And that’s how I became the proud owner of a 1938 Allis Chalmers model B. Why my dad drove the three miles to town on his Ford Jubilee and helped me tow the Allis back to the farm is a question I have never found the answer for, but I’m thankful that he did. My first experience at attempting to restore a supposed piece of junk probably inspired my eventual passion for restoring old vehicles, and the skills that I acquired in pursuing that passion have served me well thus far in my life. Despite being responsible for planting the seed of mechanical knowledge, that first major repair experience wasn’t all that successful.

Grandpa had told me that everything on the tractor had been working fine until the engine quit, and he couldn’t get it to run again. This provided me some hope because I had learned the basic operation of the gasoline engine from a course I had taken at my high school. I knew absolutely nothing about brakes and transmissions so the fact that they had been working properly when the engine stopped running meant that I could disregard them for the moment. The engine would be my primary FOCUS in bringing the little Allis back to life. I figured that I should get a good look at the engine’s working parts, so I drained the oil and dropped the oil pan. There were no broken parts lying in the pan so that was definitely a good sign. The bottom ends of the connecting rods were very accessible, so I removed the caps and shims recalling a very important lesson that Grandpa had taught me.

As a young boy I had looked forward to visits with Grandpa when the two of us would sit on his couch, and he would tell me of his life experiences. He was a World War I vet and when he recounted his war experiences it made me sad because Grandpa had truly suffered during the war and carried wounds that would trouble him his entire life. I liked to hear his stories about his job as a maintenance man at the dairy plant because he was a master mechanic, and I liked to learn how to fix things. He explained that his job required him to work on complicated machines that he had no plans for. He had to take them apart to find the problem, then fix the problem, and finally put everything back together so it worked. Grandpa had stressed the fact, so emphatically that it was firmly imprinted in my brain, that when you take something apart, you lay all the parts out in the proper order so that you would know how they went back together.

This was the lesson I remembered as the rod caps were removed. Each cap was numbered and laid out on a board with its corresponding bearing and shims in the position that they would be reinstalled. As I removed each assembly, I examined the bearing surface. Bearings one, three, and four looked fine and they felt fine. I hadn’t yet discovered plastigauge to check clearances, so my visual inspection would have to do. Bearing number two troubled me. Its surface was scratched and irregularly worn. The second journal on the crankshaft had similar wear marks. Lying on my back, staring into the innards of the engine, I knew that there was no way that I could take out that crankshaft and properly repair it, so I did the best I could do. I got some emery cloth and went to work polishing the bearing and the journal until they appeared acceptable and felt smooth to the touch. Satisfied that I had done all that I could do with my limited experience, I put everything back together, and I thankfully didn’t have any extra parts.

Feeling a little uneasy about my attempted repair of the engine’s internals, I moved on to the parts that I was more familiar with. Spark plugs were a snap. I just screwed them out, cleaned the tips, and set the gaps. Before screwing them back in, I wanted to be sure that they were sparking, so one at a time, I hooked them up to the magneto and cranked the engine with the hand crank. With each spark, the smile on my face got a little bigger. I reinstalled the plugs and cranked the engine once more. It didn’t start, but I had compression, and I had spark. If I could get fuel to the engine, maybe, just maybe, it might start.

The carburetor didn’t look much more complicated than the lawn mower carburetors I had worked on in my small engines class, so I took it off, disassembled it, and laid out the parts just the way that Grandpa had taught me to. I cleaned everything with some gas and then blew out the passageways with an old tire pump that I found in the shed. It went back together just as easily as it had come apart. I blew out the gas line and then bolted the carburetor back to the manifold.

The sediment bowl looked like it was filled with crud, so I drained the gas tank and then removed the sediment bowl assembly. It was pretty simple compared to the carburetor, and I had it cleaned and reinstalled in less than an hour. I was about to pour some fresh gas into the tank when I spotted my dad driving his Jubilee in from the field. I poured a gallon of gas into the tank and decided to wait for him before I tried to start the tractor. When he was beside me by the Allis, I explained everything that I had done and then grabbed the crank. Before I could give it a tug, Dad raised his arm to stop me and then walked to the other side of the tractor and pulled the dipstick. A sickening feeling came over me when he held up the dipstick. I had been so involved in getting the parts cleaned and put together that I had forgot to put in the oil.

“Won’t go far without oil,” Dad simply stated and then went to the shed and returned with four quarts of oil. I was too embarrassed to say anything, so I silently watched him pour the oil into the engine. “Sometimes we get so busy with the complicated things that we forget the simple things,” he said and then smiled at me. I was still too embarrassed to answer, so I grabbed the crank and gave it a pull. I pulled on it for several minutes with no results, so Dad flipped the choke closed and opened the throttle a bit. When he gave me nod, I pulled hard on the crank and the engine sputtered. Dad opened the choke a bit and gave me another nod. The engine sputtered again but kept running. Grandpa’s tractor was running. “Jump in the seat and see if it’ll drive,” Dad said, and in a flash I was in the seat with my foot on the clutch pedal. I pushed the shifter into first and let out the clutch. The tractor jerked forward. My joy was complete. I was driving Grandpa’s tractor. I went around the barn and then back to the machine shed. When I pulled on the hand brakes, the tractor stopped.

Dad let me sit on the tractor for a few moments, reveling in my joy, before he grounded out the magneto and stopped the tractor. When I jumped off the seat, he patted my back. “Well you got her going,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t think this old tractor would ever run again, but you got her going. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the engine has a terrible knock. I was a little worried when you told me about the work you did on the crank journal. Normally when you have a bad crank journal, the engine has to be disassembled, and you take the crankshaft to a shop and have it ground to new specs.”

“I was devastated. “You mean after all of my work we can’t use the tractor?”

“Oh, you can drive it around a bit, but the problem will just get worse, and you’ll be doing more damage to the engine. I think the best thing would be to put it back in the shed and maybe someday fix it properly. But you can tell Grandpa that you got it running.” So that is what I did. I drove Grandpa’s little Allis into the shed. “One day I will fix you properly,” I promised and closed the door.

If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!

Allis Chalmers WD and Things Dear to Me

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This picture means a lot to me because it includes several things that are dear to me.

The Allis Chalmers WD is a reminder of my Dad who received this tractor brand new on April 16, 1953, according to the weathered and grease-stained owner’s manual in my possession.

Our new pup, Cindy, a golden retriever with whom I plan to spend some of my golden years.

A big, steep hill, that my Mom had dubbed Old Smokey when she first saw it in 1955 or so, part of the farm on which my Dad toiled to make a living for his family, a hill that has been in the center of my family’s farm for 150 years, now seeded to native prairie and returned to nature as my mother had always wished but never came to see.

A clutch of evergreen trees that my wife and I had planted on the side of that hill when we moved to the farm some 35 years later.

The pasture where I first drove the Allis while my Dad walked the fence in Spring preparing a place for the heifers to call home that summer. Dad pointed the tractor parallel to the fence, put the gear-shift lever in first, set the throttle at a low idle, and snapped the hand clutch into gear. He walked the fence cutting last year’s weeds from the rusty but otherwise, smooth wire, replaced a few insulators, and tightened that wire as I white-knuckled the steering wheel in my 6-year-old hands. Allis crawled forward along the fence with the fencing trailer, the cut-off box of an otherwise discarded pickup, in tow. Suddenly, Allis and I lurched forward and lunged down a short but steep slope just to the left of and outside the frame of this picture. Allis had popped out of gear and we were now free-wheeling down the slope! I hung on to the steering wheel for dear precious young life not knowing how to apply the brakes and being at least a foot too short to reach them. After an interminable run, I suddenly pitched forward toward the steering wheel. Both front tires had plunged into the dead furrow at the bottom of that slope and the tractor and I came to a sudden rest…almost! For there was just enough forward momentum to push the wheels up out of that trench setting the tractor careening forward again. Allis and I briefly resumed our wild flight until the back tires settled gently in the same dead furrow and we truly did stop. The entire harrowing ordeal had lasted less than twenty seconds and covered less than a hundred feet. I imagine our speed topped out at about 6 miles per hour. It was the wildest, most death-defying ride of my life!

Curtis OlsonWebster, MinnesotaTractor Photo Contest Winner

Featured Tractor – 1978 Allis Chalmers 185

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I have always been fond of Allis-Chalmers tractors, my father and grandparents on both sides of my family farmed row crops, hay, tobacco, and cattle and ran Allis-Chalmers tractors. Tractors small in size like the CA used for plowing tobacco, all the way up to the 7045 used to work ground and pull the drill.

I have always wanted an Allis of my own and happened to find this 1978 model 185 sitting in a barn, not being used. I knew it would be a good addition to my cow/calf operation, and after a few years of talks with the owner, I was happy to be able to purchase it. The 185 is a well-suited tractor used for all hay production work, grinding feed, pulling fertilizer buggies, moving feeders, and sitting out hay bales in the winter. It is well made and useful size tractor for my operation.

Brandon ChandlerDixon, KentuckyTractor Photo Contest Winner

Allis Chalmers WF45 Restoration

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My Allis Chalmers WF45 is a custom-built restoration project. The tractor began life in 1949 as an Allis Chalmers WD. But by the time I received it around 2013, it was in really bad shape. All the sheet metal was missing, and the engine was locked up from water getting down the exhaust. The transmission and rear end were locked up as well due to the gear shift being removed and mice making a nest in the diff that locked up the ring and pinion. It was missing many other parts, governor, tires, original rims drawbar, starter, and distributor. It did come with a parts tractor with no motor and with bad rear rims that didn’t at all complete the other tractor. I paid 150 for both machines. When I got the tractor I had this crazy idea to lower it and make it a standard tread tractor. On my property is a 2-acre pasture field with many trees and I wanted something shorter to mow under the trees with. But I’m a die-hard Allis fan and the only tractor that really would work would be an IB or a WF and neither of those has a good three-point lift or live hydraulics or PTO. Both of those tractors are rather rare to find too and usually come with a 2,000 or more price tag. So I thought I could build one out of this WD cheaper.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

It took a few years to get started on the tractor but in 2015 I started working on it and it took 2 years to fully finish it. I started by getting the transmission loose and lowering the tractor. I pulled the final drives (which was not easy as the break pins wouldn’t come out) and drilled new break pin holes and spun the final drives up one bolt. I then repaired the rims on the parts tractor, one of which I had to cut out 1/4 of it and replace with a new section. Then I mounted the smallest 28in tires I could find 11.2 x 28 in rims. I then leveled the tractor to start working on the front axle. I dropped the tricycle front pedestal, cut the end of the frame rails, and then began fabricating the front axle. Most of it is made from scratch but it is made to fit many Allis parts. I pulled the axle pieces out of the tricycle front and fabricated the wide front to fit these parts. The steering arms are off an Allis B and the drag link is off of a B. The steering box is off of a 1954 Chevy 2-ton truck. The steering wheel and the seat were lowered. I also had to make new fender brackets and decided to fabricate a full platform to resemble the wf and the U. And of course find many of the missing parts. After that was all done, I then started the engine. I couldn’t get the motor free so I did a full overhaul on the motor, new piston sleeve kit with overbore and got a 226cuin crank and new bearings, and refaced all the valves and seats. I decided to go to 226 cranks because by then I wanted to dub the tractor the WF45 and wanted to make it such. I thought about finding a WD45 block too but I had to move the oil filter to fit the steering box and that was much easier with the valve guide plate on the wd block. Ultimately the longer I worked on the tractor, the more it made me want to do it right and make the tractor look like it could be factory-made.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

So ultimately my cheap standard tread tractor quickly became pretty expensive. It wound up costing me over 3500 to complete and tons of hours of labor. But I think it turned out really nice. We now use it actively on the farm. It bush-hogs the pasture each year and is the backup tractor for baling and many other tasks.

David KaslerAshville, Ohio

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!

Allis Chalmers WCs

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

This photo is our 1933 Allis Chalmers WC, serial number 14, It is the oldest known to exist at this time. Along with the 1948 Allis Chalmers WC, serial number 178202, it is the last WC made according to the serial number listings. The next tractor off the line was WD #1.

We have a few other unique pieces also. An Allis/Dodge M7 snow tractor in its Army uniform. We have 2 WC maintainers, an unstyled 1938 and a later styled one as well. We have an unstyled wide front WC. Also, another interesting piece is a Plymouth tractor. Thank you for your interest.

Fred BJ WilkeHanover, Pennsylvania

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor
allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!

Allis Chalmers WD

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

I started pulling tractors when I was in junior high, starting out on my dad’s Farmall M. After a while I wanted my own tractor, and I knew I wanted an Allis Chalmers. We went to an auction and brought home this Allis Chalmers and she quickly was named ‘The Lil Allis’. She received a paint job from my dad, the old Allis Orange with the new Allis Orange flames coming off the grill going through the decal, and coming down the fenders.

We continued to pull throughout high school. When I went to college my dad continued to pull her while I was gone. One year he flipped it during a pull, after that she came home and sat in the shed until now. I decided I wanted to get back into the pulling game. We pulled her out, dusted off the cobwebs to reveal her custom paint job, and got to work. In this picture she is showing off her custom-made weight bracket in the front and in front of the rear axle, and the custom-made wheelie bars in the back. This Winter she will receive a whole new paint job that I’m excited to be part of. Won the weight class (3,750 lbs Farm Class) that I pull in with the WeakEnders Tractor Pulling Club this year.

Cassie MackHarvard, Illinois2022 Tractor Photo Contest Winner

December Featured Photo

December’s featured photo was submittedby Marc Dietsch of Livingston, Montana.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

“I purchased my Allis Chalmers WD that I found in Wisconsin because it had a factory loader. At the time I was living in Livingston, Montana and needed it for snow removal and landscaping after we built our home. This baby did the trick! Our 4 year old granddaughter loves to dig and scoop with the tractor too. The WD is back in Wisconsin as we sold the Montana home and moved back to be closer to family. I’m sure she will serve us many more years with parts from Steiner Tractor!” – Marc Dietsch

Get me to the church on time

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

Four years ago I refurbished my Allis Chalmers B 1949 tractor having sourced several parts from Steiner Tractor Parts. The Tractor was in complete disrepair; needing new valves, big end bearings, miners wick for the crank and replacement final drives. In total the restoration took three years to complete and now Allis is in show condition.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

A year after completion, my daughter, Kirsty, was due to get married and asked if I would build a trailer to go on the back of the tractor to carriage her and the bridesmaids to the ceremony. Of course I said yes!

The Wedding took place in Herefordshire, United Kingdom on the 10 th of August and ended up being a wonderful day for all.

Phil BealeTibberton, Gloucester, United Kingdom

Tractor Time

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

I want to share with you a couple of pictures of completed projects done using Steiner parts. The clock was made by my husband’s dad using old wood pallets, scrap black walnut wood, and tractor hood emblems my father-in-law ordered from Steiner representing all of my husband’s favorite tractors. Keith did an excellent job on the clock, and we are so proud to display it in our home.

My husband, Stacy, just finished the Massey Ferguson 165 restore using Steiner parts. As you can see, it turned out great.

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

Glad to have Steiner to turn to for all of our tractor part needs.

Trina Fortner Wood of Centre, Alabama

Tractor Ride Sunday

allis, chalmers, lawn, tractor

A few years ago, recognizing that a lot of local families had old tractors that they were restoring, my uncle decided to organize a “tractor ride” as a way to get local families together to socialize, have some fun, and enjoy driving them around the country roads.

Each year, he maps out a route and contacts some of the local families to arrange permissions for the route to go through a few farms to bypass some of the more traveled blacktop roads, and to have large enough places to stop for breaks and lunch. When “tractor ride” Sunday (usually in October) rolls around, tractors start showing up at the Holy Martyrs of Japan Church’s gravel parking lot from all over. Some are hauled but most are driven….rain or shine. Many pull hay or grain wagons to haul families with their picnic lunches. It is truly a day for the whole family.

Around noon, my uncle Teddy climbs up on his Farmall, and leads the way, with everyone else falling in line behind him. To add to the fun and to raise a few dollars to support our country church, there is an optional poker run, where you can pay a few dollars a hand and draw a card at each of the scheduled stops, with the winner receiving half the money collected and the other half going to the church to be used where the current need is.

There are all kinds of makes and models, new and old, and often several generations of family members driving them. The particular photo contains several members of my family. I took the photo from the back of the hay wagon being pulled by my husband and his Allis Chalmers WD45. The photo is of my daughter waving while driving her daddy’s Allis Chalmers D-14, with her uncle Chris behind her on his Case, her cousin on his Ford 901, and her grandpa Ron on his Case, with many other friends and relatives behind him. We never know what the weather will be like in Missouri, in October, but, that year we lucked out with cool temps, sunshine, and Fall colors! The perfect day in the country!

Veronica Brown of Sullivan, Missouri

2021 Tractor Photo Contest Group Photo Winner

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