1920 Moline Universal D

1920 Moline Universal D tractor

In 1920 Moline Universal owned by Harris Saele, R.R.2, Box 77, Munich, North Dakota 58352

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R.R. 2, Box 77, Munich, North Dakota 58352

I am enclosing some pictures of my 1920 Moline Universal, Model D tractor. I acquired this tractor 17 years ago from a farm four miles north of Devils Lake, North Dakota. The farmer had passed away and they had an auction. I was not at the auction but heard that there was an old tractor on the sale that never got a bid. We went out and looked at it and were able to purchase it for $50.00.

We quickly got it home and being young and foolish, I took it all apart. Finding that it had a cracked block and broken pistons, we took the head, block and pistons to a machinist. Being short of money we made a deal with the machinist where he would work on it in his spare time. After over a year had gone by and nothing had been accomplished, I went to retrieve the parts and was informed that they had all been hauled to the local junk yard by accident.

At this point, all work had stopped. Sixteen years later I had about given up ever finding the missing parts.

In January of 1983 we learned that Allen Larson of Newburg, North Dakota had four Model D's. A telephone call and a 100 mile trip to his farm assured us that he had the parts we were in need of. Out of the four tractors, Allen was making two.

We picked up the block, head without valves, rocker arms and pistons in March of 1983. We had been working hard on all the other parts of the tractor, as my goal was to have it completed for the July 4th Centennial parade in Devils Lake, North Dakota.

After many hours of work cleaning, loosening parts, repairing and painting, we had everything ready to go except to complete putting the engine together. That was in a different machine shop in Devils Lake. Morris Hietala, machinist for United Auto Parts was putting all the fine touches on the engine. Morris spent many hours on this engine and was never quite satisfied until everything was just perfect. The 4th of July was coming up fast so we worked evenings to complete it. The night I took the block home Morris worked with me until 2:30 in the morning. In order to make a long story just a bit shorter, we got the Model D running two days before the parade.

We got set up for the parade early in the morning and by ten o'clock the parade had started. I made it only one block, after running the engine that morning for over 1 hours. (This was the longest it had ever run.) The coil got hot and shorted out. For the next two hours it would do nothing, then when the parade was over it cooled itself down and ran like a top. We took it home and did not take it to any more shows for that year.

This spring we found a coil that would work. On July 8, 1984 my wife, Dianne, and youngest daughter, Tonya, took our Model D to Killarney, Manitoba where we showed it in the Turtle Mountain Flywheel Club annual show. We were well rewarded as we received the best antique display plaque, one traveling plaque and one we got to keep. I have very few old tractors but am grateful for our Model D.

Our Model D has a four cylinder engine that burns only gas, not kerosene. The engine is equipped with oil pump and runs from 300 to 1800 RPM. Most old timers that remember this tractor, always seem to have remembered one with a rod through its side.

It also has an electric gas control and is equipped with starter and lights, front wheel drive with engine offset to one side. Therefore, the manufacturer found it necessary to counterbalance the tractor by putting concrete in one drive wheel. The engine is set out in front of the drive wheels, having 98% of its weight on the main drive wheels.

In closing I want to say that I find Gas Engine Magazine the best magazine I have ever received. I have a lot to learn about this business and your magazine is an excellent source. Keep up the good work!