A Dream of My Teen Years


Three Rumelys

Three Rumelys: one restored 20-30 Oilpull, two homebuilt 3 HP and 6 HP.

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223 Ridge Road Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17015

My story begins in the early thirties right after the great depression of 1929. I lived on a 39 acre farm in the center of the beautiful Cumberland Valley of central Pennsylvania. It is a rich limestone farming country between two beautiful blue mountains about 12 miles wide and 39 miles long. Here I learned about the long hours of hard work from dawn until after dusk. We milked cows by hand, plowed one 12 inch furrow with two horses, pitched hay on the wagon and thrashed by forking the sheaves of grain into the tractor powered thrashing machine.

We had one 3 HP gas engine which pumped the water for the cows, horses and pigs. This rare engine also sawed the winter wood in the late fall and ran an old thrashing cylinder to shred corn fodder for the cows. That faithful old engine had no name tag and to this day remains a mystery. It had no cast water tank on the block, but a round tank was made up with a pipe up front for the inlet from the cylinder for the hot water to bubble up, and a return pipe at the back for the cooled water to return to the head. It had a spark plug fired from a buzz coil and a six volt battery. When Dad had a sale it was sold to a junk dealer and that faithful engine became another statistic.

My interest in engines began with the experiences of repairing that engine every time it failed to start. I often dreamed of putting a drive train under it and making it a miniature tractor. But not having any tools to drill holes, cut iron and weld, it never became a reality. Fifty years passed and after finally retiring from my regular job, as a minister, I still wanted to make a small tractor.

So, in 1990 I bought a 20-30 Rumely OilPull very similar to the one my neighbor used to run the thrashing machine on our farm to Separate our wheat, oats, barley and rye. That old two cylinder tractor fascinated me to no end, as it pounded away all day running the thrasher. Now I had one of my own. What a thrill!

I took it apart, cleaned up the parts, repaired the fenders and broken pieces. Then I primed it all and painted it the original Brewster Green. That was dream number one fulfilled.

The next winter 1993, I decided to fulfill my youth dream of making a small tractor from a 3 HP gas engine. I collected the necessary parts: steel wheels from an old wagon, gears from a two-hole corn sheller, transmission from a riding tractor, V pulleys, shafts, bearings and channel iron. It took all winter to cut, weld, bend, fit pulleys, and make everything mesh with a belt clutch. Finally, it was finished with a 3 HP International M on the frame for the gas engine to power it. It looked like a Rumely, it sounded like a Rumely and it has a Rumely radiator and smoke pipe, so I called it my mini-Rumely OilPull. That was my second youthful dream of fifty years now come to pass.

As you can see by the picture, I made a second tractor last year, using a 6 HP International M gas engine. It too runs real good and people enjoyed seeing it operate at our Williams Grove Engine Show, the week leading up to Labor Day.

No boy will ever get into trouble if he spends his time learning how old antique engines or tractors were made and operated to do so much work on the farm. Like Peter, Paul and Mary sing: 'Don't Let The Light Go Out!'