2277 Berry Road Amelia, Ohio 45102
As long as I can remember, I've always been interested in tractors and machinery of all types. But with the thought in mind that they would always be around as we know them.
Unknown to me on a cold January day in 1985 my thoughts and attitude would be changing from, it will always be around, to having importance and zeal of capturing part of the past that is fast disappearing.
On that cold January day in 1985, a friend, Ray Curry, told me about a burned tractor he had just traded for. Said he'd sell it. A man might be able to put a small four-cylinder engine on the transmission and build himself a small tractor. As to the make of the tractor, no one knew.
I went to his shop and saw the tractor in sad condition. Burned to a crisp. Aluminum brackets melted off. All rubber parts burned. The wheels unusable being warped from the heat. But oddly enough the cylinder head and piston cylinder didn't seem to be affected and the engine would turn over with compression, no less.
The transmission housing and basically the whole structure of the tractor was impressive. For it was built like a large tractor, only small. Made from heavy gauge steel castings and steering system that would put a large tractor to shame. It even had a four-point hydraulic hitch. You could see a person could do anything with this machine. All this powered by a one-cylinder diesel engine, which we thought was junk.
The boy and I purchased it and loaded it up with the intent of mounting a four-cylinder Chevy engine on it and building our own tractor.
Once we got it home we noticed that in the scrap parts there was an extra injection pump that miraculously escaped the fire and an extra starter that was badly corroded, but not burned. We thought let's take a chance and get this starter rebuilt. Put this injection pump on, rig it up someway or another and see if it will run. We did and it did, to our total amazement. The only problem was the seals and gaskets were all bad.
This has to be one of life's great satisfactions, to hear a machine that has been dead for many years and hope given up on it, come to life sounding like it's designers and makers intended it to be.
I called many people. Everyone said they thought it was a Deutz. I talked to several Deutz factory representatives, one from Germany, they never saw anything like it. So we realized we are all alone on this one. All we could do is put it together the way it was originally and take it to the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show and Reunion at Georgetown, Ohio, that summer. Having experience in restoration on antique cars and a millwright by trade, I knew even if parts are not available there are ways of making and getting made what we needed. The worst scenario would be that we would never find out what make of tractor it was and no extra parts, but we would still have a working machine.
So we went to work making a fuel tank, hydraulic tank and hoses, rigged up a hydraulic pump, made wheels, got tires, etc.
We discovered that everything was metric and had German Mann oil filters all pointing to its origin being Germany.
Then an exciting discovery. One night working on the engine, I laid the trouble light down against the engine. The engine still had the aluminum I.D. plate on it, but all paint and letters burned off. With the light shining on the plate in just a certain way, I could make out the letter H. After about an hour of staring at this plate it seemed the letters spelled out HATZ. I made more phone calls, all dead ends, no one knew of a Hatz tractor.
So we made a usable tractor out of what we had, not knowing what it should look like, not knowing what it was. Excitedly we approached August and the 15th Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show at Georgetown, Ohio, with the burning question; What in the world is it!
Well we got to the show and everyone there was just great. Everyone took our cross and carried it; what is this machine? The boy and I talked to everyone, listening to every word for a clue to the burning question.
On Saturday evening, one event we entered was the slow engine race. This tractor has nine forward speeds, three reverse and being diesel, you can slow the engine way down. At the starting line the judge said 'you can go now'. I let out the clutch, he said 'Okay, you can go now.' I said, 'I'm going.' About that time you could see the wheels were moving ever so slowly.
Everyone started laughing and carrying on, telling other people to come over and see this tractor. A great crowd started to gather and the excitement was building up.
The P. A. announcer, Gene Bowen, called everyone's attention to the fact that some kind of record was being set at the slow race. The tractor won the slow race, 50 feet in 3 minutes and 45 seconds! So then everyone wanted to see it go fast, so I obliged them. Of course this made everyone more aware of the burning question, what is it?
Well Sunday rolled around more interviews. We talked so much it hurt to talk any more. It was about time to go home when an older, experienced man walked up and said 'I don't know about that tractor, but it is a Hatz diesel motor, you can get parts for it at Dixie Parts in Dayton, Ohio. EUREKA! He further said 'that is one of the most economical running motors in the world and the U.S. government buys a lot of them for generators, water pumps, etc.' In all the excitement I didn't get the mans name and I've never seen him again at any shows. I would like to thank him again and have him see this tractor again, now that it is restored properly. That took care of half the burning question. Then the very next fellow that walked up said 'I don't know about that engine, but that is a Bungartz tractor. I know, because a nursery close to where we live in Hillsboro, Ohio, had one or two of them. My dad was going to buy one himself in 1959, in fact, I still have the brochure. And by the way, that nursery burned down, so this could be one of those tractors. The dealer for parts was Burton Supply in Youngstown, Ohio.'
Don Chambers is the name of this fellow who lives in Hillsboro, Ohio. A couple of weeks later he sent me the brochure he talked about. We got a first glimpse of what this tractor looked like in its prime and an idea of what it could do.
Needless to say the next day, Monday after the show, I started making phone calls. Engine parts are still available from Dixie Parts of Dayton, Ohio, just like the gentlemen told me. Burton Supply is still in business, but did not sell parts or Bungartz tractors any more, but they were very helpful in giving me the names and phone numbers of people who may be able to help.
Next we planned trips to see these people and purchase parts to restore the Bungartz tractor.
First we went to see Bill Millspaw in the Erie, Pennsylvania area. When giving directions to his place, he said 'you can't miss the place for all the tractors'. We spent most of the day there, just couldn't get away. We learned a lot about tractors and the Bungartz tractor in particular. We purchased a 6 foot belly mower, decals, service manual. He offered to get any parts from Germany we needed. A very unselfish man concerned about getting our tractor together again.
Next stop in the same trip was to see Glen and Harley Authorholt in Transfer, Pennsylvania. These fellows have been in the tractor business since 1932, they used to sell Bungartz tractors and had some parts. Again the nicest people you would ever want to meet. They sold some parts and gave us some parts. They wanted us to spend the night, we had a hard time getting away.
We still need a hood, front weights, and a lot of minor parts. Remember, everything was burned out.
The next trip was to Culver, Indiana, to see Jerry Walker. Jerry used to have a fleet of these Bungartz tractors on his tree farm. These tractors were primarily used in hot houses, orchards, nurseries, tree farms. The 90° steering lends itself to tight corners, one-cylinder diesel to indoors and heavy construction with hydraulics and power take-off to any job you needed to get done in tight places. They were sold in this country from about 1958 to 1964.
We got to Jerry's place, he showed us the last Bungartz of the fleet. It was in excellent condition, a perfect example of what ours needed to look like. Then he took us to the remains of one out back. It had all the rest of the parts we needed to restore ours. For a nominal price, he sold us all the parts we needed. That tractor looked like a turkey after a turkey dinner, when we got done. As all the people we have dealt with on tractors, Jerry was very helpful and one of the nicest people you would want to know.
It's obvious in talking to people who know the tractor that a great many of these tractors have been scrapped out just because people didn't know how to service them or where to get engine parts. A tractor would be scrapped out for a minor problem.
With all the parts and help received, we were now prepared to start all over again and restore the Bungartz properly.
It was an exciting project bringing it back to it's original condition as new. We were capturing history in solid form. I thought 1959 wasn't that long ago, but look around, most of these tractors are gone. Look at all the more common makes of tractors, Oliver, Massey-Harris, Minneapolis-Moline, Ferguson, Fordson and more, fast disappearing. A way of life fast disappearing before our very eyes.
We got the Bungartz restored and returned to the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show and 16th Reunion, August 8-10, 1986 at Georgetown, Ohio. Everyone received great satisfaction in seeing this tractor restored to its' original glory. If it wasn't for everyone's help and concern this tractor would have been dead history. And an added dividend is, we use the tractor all the time to till the garden, mow the grass and other various chores. It does this very economically also.
From this tractor, we have moved on to restoring other tractors, trying to hold onto a way of life and machinery fast disappearing. We have many more stories to tell you, and hope to tell you in the future. We are now offering restoration services to people who, for one reason or another, aren't able to do it themselves.
We need to hold on to some of the past, for continuity of the future. We are fast approaching a new century and the life, as we knew it, is fast disappearing. Let's save some of it for future generations to enjoy the personalities of these machines.
Who knows, life and history have a way of turning around, maybe we'll be forced into using these reliable machines again.