Amusing Experiences With Crawler Tractors

Steam and Gas Threshing

Courtesy of Wilbur A. Skaar, 1429 Benton St., Alameda, California 94501.

Wilbur A. Skaar

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R. R. 1, Muscatine. Iowa 52761.

In G.E.M. Sept.-Oct. issue, Mr. Norbert J. Lucht wrote an article on Crawler tractors and wanted to hear of other experiences people have had. Here are a few that will bring a chuckle to him and many other readers, I am sure.

I was 'cat skinner' for Eliza Town ship road commissioner, Milo Linder, in Mercer County, Illinois, several years ago. Milo and I changed off greasing the equipment every other morning, and this was my time to do the job. We had an H.D 7 A.C. Cat, and the inside track fittings were underneath the tractor. We would grease everything else, then the one doing the greasing would lie down in front of the tractor and signal the other one to drive astraddle of him to reach those inside fittings, as this was easier and cleaner than crawling under the Cat. This particular morning an elderly man had showed up to check with Milo about some work he wanted us to do. When Milo started the tractor moving toward me lying on the ground, the man thought I was going to be run over, and he screamed and moaned until the Cat was stopped and the situation explained to him.

One time we were cleaning ditches along the levee in Bay Island, and small trees and brush had sprung up in the ditch. We were going along fine and I was sitting crosswise in the seat to better catch Milo's signals, now and then moving a steering clutch to keep the Cat in road. About this time we hit a large root and the Cat swung crossways in the road before we could stop. What made this so funny was that the New Boston, Ill. mail man was driving slow beside me when the Cat turned, and he took off like a dragster.

We were going to gravel this same road where we cleaned ditches, and had bladed it up nice, when we got a fall rain. The road got cut up some, and froze up with lots of knobs on the surface. We wanted to remove these knobs before rocking the road and the County Superintendent told us to use the Cat and grader. He said, 'You will think that old grader will fly apart the way it will pop and groan, but it won't.' We went down the next morning to get rid of the knobs, and we were both skeptical of the outcome. The cab had not been put on the tractor for Winter yet when we hooked up to the grader. We thought it would fly to pieces any minute and go in the Mississippi River. However, it was not the grader that worried me, it was those frozen mud balls, from the size of marbles, to larger than baseballs, whizzing past my head. The only chance I had was to lie down in the seat, and lie down I did.

One time we were blading a drive for a farmer, and he kept hives of bees under some shade trees by the' drive. I was watching Milo for signals, when he signaled to stop, which I did. He piled off the grader and into the brush, he went, yelling, 'What in H--- did you stop for? The bees are after me.' I said, 'You gave me the stop sign.' and he yelled back, 'I sure didn't aim to.' It is a funny thing, diesel fuel burning, drives bees wild, but they never bothered me on the Cat, just the man on the grader.

Minneapolis 'Old Minnie' 25-50 Hp. 4 cyl. O. H. V. gas tractor. Serial No. 109. Last job of hulling seed peas in fall of 1925, at Nick Freswick ranch in Manhattan, Montana. A 36 x 58 Case separator converted to huller with special cleaner on top deck. Chevrolet 490 trap wagon.

Old Minnie was ideal for hulling and threshing as well as moving. I ran both ends alone.

Holt 75 Hp. November 1930. We had just pulled through Manhattan, Montana and had one more river to ford before we could locate on the new homesite. We pulled across wheat fields and that made the engine 'speak up'. I held the governor open. I did my steam and gas threshing in Wisconsin and Montana.

A friend of mine drove this same Cat for another commissioner for a while, and thought he would be cute when he drove into the shed one night. He pulled both steering clutches back to stop in the shed, then discovered he had no extra hand to reach the hand clutch, or to push the fuel valve in. He yelled to his boss to come shut the Cat off. The boss liked a good joke, and saw the skinner's predicament, so he said, 'You got into that fix, get yourself out!' The driver let go of one steering lever and shut the Cat off, but not before the Cat had turned around in the shed.

Another friend of mine was moving a Cat on the road one time when he came to a very steep hill with a sharp bend at the bottom. He wanted to see if a Cat would coast so he pulled back both -steering levers. The further he went, the faster he went, and he was afraid the motor would go if the levers were released. He did release the levers just before the sharp bend, and he thought the Cat was going to fly to pieces. Needless to say he never tried that again.

The H. D. 7 A. C. Crawler was a nice tractor to handle. It started directly on fuel oil, needing no starting motor for warm up. A push on the starter button started it in the summer, and a hand pump putting fuel in the manifold around a firing spark plug, started it in the winter; of course, the starter button was pushed too.

The extra fuel pumped to the motor and not burned was returned to the fuel tank, the tank soon became warm. Nice place to warm cold hands in the winter.

Well, I've been pretty long winded so I better sign off.

I enjoy G.E.M. and the Album very much, wouldn't be without them, getting better all the time.