Eye of the Beholder

Interesting Engines Found at the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa


Charlie Drahos’ handmade engine in all its glory.

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I ran across these two beauties at the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, in September. They are obviously homemade machines built with pure functionality in mind, and are two of the neatest pieces of equipment I saw at the show.

Drahos' Engine

First up is Charlie Drahos' homemade en-gine. Charlie bought the engine as you see it at an auction held last fall near his hometown of Ainsworth, Iowa. Since buying the engine, he hasn't done anything more to it due to his heavy work load. But he says all that's left to do is bolt on the pre-fabbed carburetor and come up with some kind of ignition system, although the spark plug, points and condenser are already installed. Almost everything on his engine is handcrafted: crankshaft, connecting rod, flywheels, even the governing system.

We're looking forward to seeing the final product, Charlie!

Cutler's Tractor

Now let me introduce to you Luke Cutler's (Columbus Junction, Iowa) pieced-together tractor. Although it looks as if it were built many years ago (which was Luke's goal in the first place), he just built it in the winter of 2002-03.

The engine is a 1943 3 HP FMZ, the transmission was pulled from a 1947 Chevy pickup, the rear end was taken out of a 1947 Jeep pickup, and rolling stock is courtesy of a now-defunct New Idea manure spreader.

As shown in the photos, the tractor is belt-driven, controlled by an idler pulley and lever on the right side. A brake rotor is mounted on the tail end of the driveshaft just in front of the pinion, as Luke plans to install a hydraulic brake system in the near future. But for now he just uses the friction of the idler pulley to stop the tractor.

An old Allis-Chalmers combine gave up its right angle steering box, and the steering wheel was found on eBay. Although Luke isn't exactly sure what the wheel came off of, he's betting it used to be an old gate valve wheel. The origin of the seat, bought at the Mt. Pleasant swap meet a couple of years ago, is unknown. It has "Western L. Roller Co." stamped on it, which Luke thinks probably stands for the Western Land Roller Co.

When asked why he built the tractor, he said, "I just wanted something to drive around at the shows." Little did he know how much attention he would get while driving it. People were flocking to him from all around just to take a few pictures of his creation!