In 1949, I saw this very rough 1927 Advance-Rumely 15-25 OilPull for the first time. It belonged to a fellow I knew, and he had it set up in a field cutting firewood. 'I bought it from Wright Township (Pa.) for $50,' he told me, and it had been stored in a barn for at least 12 years. I didn't collect engines or tractors at this time, but I took a liking to the rusty old Rumely.
The years passed, and I got married and had a family. In about 1963, we were visiting the Lancaster, Pa., area and camped at a place called Rommers Retreat. Waking up the next morning, I heard the sounds of a steam whistle and some mechanical noise. I wanted to see what the noise was all about, and all I had to do was cross the road to arrive at the Rough and Tumble show grounds in Kinzer, Pa. After Rough and Tumble, I had to have a hit-and-miss engine, and two days later I found a 4 HP International Harvester Famous. I didn't know much about hit-and-miss engines and I had a lot to learn, but two weeks later I had it running.
More years rolled by, and I started thinking about the Rumely. Where was it, I wondered? I talked to many people who might have seen it, and finally one person told me they thought it might be in White Haven, Pa., not far from my home.
In 1971 I finally found 'ROP,' as I call it, sitting just a 1/4-mile off Route 437 in an old cornfield, overgrown with brush and small trees.
I found ROP's owner, but he was not so quick to sell. After 1-1/2 years of visiting him about the ROP he said, 'You want this tractor very badly, so when I am ready I will sell it to you.' Three months later he called me and said he was ready. I asked how much, and he said a fair price would be okay -$1,500!
Well, I had a lot to learn now. A friend who helped me bring ROP home said, 'What are you going to do with this junk?' When I got ROP home my wife and neighbors couldn't believe I was going to fix this thing.
Old ROP definitely needed a lot of work. The engine was free, but one sleeve had an 8-inch-long crack in it. On the plus side, the transmission and differential were good. The first thing I fixed was the front frame, which was broken under the cooling tower. Squirrels had been living in the cooling tower and the top parts of the fins had rotted. It took me about a month, but with some brass shim stock (and a homemade pressure tester to check my work) I soldered the problem areas.
By this time I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for, so I turned my attention to getting ROP running. I got a new sleeve and rings, and set to the engine work. After months of work I finally got the engine back together, and one night in 1973 my sons and I tried to start it, but with no result. The next day I got a phone call; it seems after school, one of my sons started ROP and called me to hear it run over the phone! We had some trouble still with the engine, but it ran okay, so we left it alone.
A few years more passed by before I took the cooling tower sheet metal apart, which I took along with the fenders to a sheet metal shop to have them redone.
I left it that way for another 25 years.
Finally, I decided it was time to finish ROP, and with the help of Gas Engine Magazine I found Shayne Moshier at Romo Machine in Andes, N.Y. Shayne knows all about OilPulls, and after 11 months he had it painted and the engine troubles sorted out. On May 15, 2004, I brought ROP back home. The restoration was finally done.
The ROP is back in Wright Township, and looks just like it did when it was new in 1927. My thanks to the folks at GEM for all the years of fun, and I'd also like to thank my wife, Marian, my two sons, Jimmy and John, my good friends at A&R Building Supply Co. for loaning me a rollback to transport ROP, Zimmerman Sheet Metal for all the metal work, Niagara Machine Shop for making piston sleeves and new rings, Romo Machine for their machine work, and all the other people who helped me.
Contact engine and tractor enthusiast Richard Ayre at: 207 Church Road, Mountain Top, PA 18707-2342