Betty's 'Little Pony'

Tractors show

Half scale Massey Harris 'Pony' in front of 1948 full size Pony and 1938 101 Twinpower Masseys owned by Rich Miller and Bill Hayes of Delmar, Iowa. Taken at Sandwich Early Day Engine Club Show in 1993.

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69 Dawn Avenue Piano, Illinois 60545

In 1991, while at the Badger Steam and Gas Engine Club Show at Baraboo, Wisconsin, featuring Massey Harris, I took some pictures of an M-H Pony. I drooled over that red and yellow masterpiece of restoration. I usually go to Baraboo every year, but this year was special. I took my 2/5 scale M-H model to be part of the featured attraction. (I never had a featured display before). When I arrived, I talked to Elmer Luck in charge of the M-H display and asked if I could go in the parade with the Masseys and he asked, 'Why, what have you got?' I showed him and he said, 'No problem.' I was content to be at the back of the pack, as long as it was with the Masseys.

Later on I was tinkering with one of the engines in my display when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and Elmer was standing there. He said the M-H people had talked it over and decided that my tractor shouldn't follow the Masseys. My jaw dropped, but I said, 'Okay.' Then he grinned and said, 'They think you should lead the Masseys in the parade. Will you?' I jumped up and said, 'Do I line up now?' He chuckled and said the parade wasn't until four hours from now. I was ready now! Well, it was one of the greatest honors I have ever experienced. A million thanks to Elmer Luck and the Massey Harris people.

Anyway, back to the Pony. I toyed with the idea of a real one and asked myself where I was going to keep it. (I have two 44s outside under the tarps now.) Then I thought, another model? Then my wife could have a Massey too. (We're a team, you know.) It would be easy to haul on the engine trailer. It would be CUTE! (Maybe.)

But when I built the 44 I had the real thing to measure when I needed to. Something to think about on the way home. Then an idea hit me. I took the pictures I had taken of the Pony to a Xerox machine and made enlarged copies of them. This left a lot of border on which to write measurements.

We went to the Rock River Thresheree at Janesville, Wisconsin, on Labor Day weekend. Lo and behold, there sat a shiny Pony belonging to Willard Green of Footville, Wisconsin. I asked him if I could take some measurements of his tractor and told him what I was up to. He said, 'Sure, go right ahead!' I spent a couple of hours measuring everything I could think of, including radiuses of hood cutouts and fender curvatures, etc. These were all recorded on the Xeroxes of the Pony pictures. Satisfied I had enough, I went back to my display.

After a while I pulled out the pictures and looked at them again. I realized that two dimensional pictures lose a lot of clarity when you try to relate the location of one part to another depthwise.

Then I got another brainstorm. When you look at an object with the eye, it becomes very clear, so I got out the video camera, went back to the Pony and went over every square inch of it slowly from different angles so there would be time to study it when it was played back. In the process, a humorous thing happened.

As I was lying on my back under the tractor shooting the bottom of the transmission and final drives, this fellow walks up and stares down at me. I didn't say a word. As I moved the camera slowly from the rear to the bell housing and frame, I picked him up in the view-finder. I kept him in one corner of it as I proceeded. He had a strange look on his face as he made up his mind whether to speak or not.

Finally he braved a question: 'How old is this tractor?' I told him. After a lengthy pause, he asked, 'What horsepower is it?' 'About 11 or 12,' I said. Then he looked around and slowly backed out of the picture and was gone. I chuckled to myself and imagined what he must have been thinking, 'This guy is really cracked. I better get the HECK out of here.' This tape became invaluable as I played it back 60-70 times during this project. It helped the dimensions make sense sometimes and was the source of a chuckle when things didn't always work right.

The rest of the story is about the same as the 'mini-Massey,' choose a scale , find parts, steel, tires, wheels, etc. at flea markets, auction sales, garage sales, scrap yards. The exception was the transmission, rear end, final drives assembly. I salvaged some gears out of an old riding mower trans. Then I built all the housings up from pipe and flatstock steel, welding together and grinding off the corners to look like one piece castings. Roller chain was used in the final drives. I used the cover off of the old transmission so I wouldn't have to make the shift forks and shift lever. A vacuum cleaner belt made a good fan belt. (I had to make the fan too). Except for the Briggs and Stratton engine, which received a modified crankcase, gears, sprockets, rear wheels, the rest was built from scratch. I also used a Honda motorcycle starter (160) and battery to put the go into the engine on command.

I enjoyed building both tractors (most of the time), but the debugging process can be very irritating. The 'Little Pony' runs great now, but it dropped me in two parades last summer. I guess these things happen but WHY in front of so many people?

Anyway, I am proud of how it turned out and my wife likes it too! It took about two years, start to finish, but I'm happy that I did it now. I have gotten many compliments on it. That's a great feeling that I will cherish forever.