180 Hope Valley Road Amston, Connecticut 06231
I am always glad to read articles written by younger people. I have been collecting and restoring tractors for about four years now: I am eighteen.
Five years ago the little 1948 Allis Chalmers C, serial number 64967, had no hope. Its owner had become ill and too sick to farm with it. He had then passed away, and the little Allis was left sitting outside under several pine trees, as he had left it. The tractor was covered with pine needles and leaves, accounting for the dreadful condition of the sheet metal. Almost no paint was left, and everything was pitted. In many places, especially the fenders, it had totally rotted through. Our East coast weather does wonders to these poor tractors, as many of you know.
With the left rear wheel gone, the tractor rested on a tree stump. The wheel was later uncovered not far from the tractor, buried under leaves; the rim was totally rusted away. It had no lights or radiator shutters (which I still need). The hood was cut and torn up to accommodate a new muffler. The battery had frozen and cracked, spilling acid in the battery box and on the frame.
After much serious consideration, the man's wife, a friend of my mother, sold me the tractor. She said it was her husband's favorite tractor and she was glad it was going to someone she knew. I definitely had my work cut out for me!
My father and I rented a U-Haul trailer and we brought the tractor home. Engine-wise, everything was covered and secured, and with very little cleaning of the carburetor, by the next day it was running. The engine was surprisingly very strong.
I was able to save enough money from my part-time job to order some new things. With another rim, and the original tire, I was able to drive it around. It was fun to use the tractor, but it looked like it had been through World War I!
I decided to restore the tractor, and I began to take it apart with the help of my father. I was young and I learned a lot, right along with my father! The sheet metal took the longest time to restore. I got another battery box and rebuilt the rest. The electrical system had to be changed from 12 volt to 6 volt. The radiator needed to be repaired and I needed two new front wheels, as both the tires and rims were bad. The left front wheel bearings were found to be bad, and were replaced. I restored the muffler that came with the tractor because I liked it better than the original and I thought it would get the exhaust further away from the driver. Everything on the tractor was cleaned and the pits filled with body filler. Slowly the tractor began to resemble its original condition.
When I was almost finished with the restoration, I became involved with a tractor club. The club pulls and shows tractors at several fairs around Connecticut. We finally designed a good set of wheelie bars, to keep the tractor from flipping over. (If anyone would like to copy them, I would be glad to give out the design.)
The tractor pulls great, but as is true with anything, not without its own share of problems! I broke the other rim and because of this, the tractor has remanufactured rims. The original rims would slip out of the clamps that held them in place. Later in the summer at another pull, the steering box got sheered in mud; ironically I still won my weight class! After pulling the tractor several times, the valve springs were replaced and the tappets adjusted. Other than usual cleaning, this was all that was done to the engine.
The restoration took a little over four years. My Allis is very competitive in the club, and it brought the daughter of the former owner to tears when she saw the tractor totally restored to the original condition as she remembered it. In 1990 it won the Best Restored Pulling Tractor in the club, as well as several pulling prizes.
I would like to thank Ed Hodge, who helped me and encouraged me to become more involved in the hobby; Mark Maikshilo and Don Spragg, who helped me when I needed it; and my parents, who not only help me, but put up with the 'yard ornaments,' as they call them. I am now the proud owner of ten antique tractors, all in various stages of restoration. However, there is still room for expansion!