Detailed Descriptions of Vintage Tractors

Wilfred Koskela discusses descriptions of vintage tractors and a question about the McVicker automatic gasoline engine.

25-50 Massey Harris Tractor

Photo courtesy of Dorothy B. Smith, Ontario, N.Y.

PHOTO: DOROTHY B. SMITH

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Wilfred Koskela shares detailed descriptions of vintage tractors with G.E.M. readers. 

The front cover picture and the story by F. R. Orr in January/February issue is interesting to me as I have operated many Aultman-Taylor tractors and am interested in descriptions of vintage tractors. The oldest was No. 69 on the Pioneer farm 10 miles south of Lakota, N.D. This No. 69 differed in that it had no heater jacket on the intake manifold and there was a separate water pipe from each twin cylinder block into the radiator tank instead of a larger pipe from the manifold heater out that branched into two near the radiator tank in the later models. Also different in the No. 69 was the crankcase had no oil troughs under the connecting rods to dip in but had a flat bottom that had to have more oil in it. In going uphill the oil would run back to the pistons flooding the cylinders and fouling the spark plugs so on a longer uphill pull it would cause considerable trouble with missing ignition. In the later models with the oil troughs this trouble was eliminated altogether. On the Erick-Kyllonen farm near Brocket, N.D. they had two of the square radiator models and two of the later round tubular radiator models on which I worked for years so I got to know these tractors from end to end. The open air flow square radiators would collect dirt into the water jackets under the cylinders which had to be cleaned out occasionally. The closed round tubular radiators eliminated that trouble in the later models. They were good tractors.

Wesley Hammond of Leicecter, New York, owns this 25-50 Massey Harris tractor. It was made in late. 1935 or early 1936. The Massey Harris company bought out the Wallis Co. and at first called their tractors Massey Wallis. This tractor was the first one using the Massey Harris name. Only a few of this model were sold out of the Batavia, New York branch. This tractor had but two owners and was kept in good running condition until it was no longer used. Wes bought it and exhibited it at the 1966 Pioneer Gas Engine Reunion in Fairville, N. Y. In the picture, it is shown powering his Ireland drag saw. This was completely rotted down and he did a beautiful job of rewooding it. Makes a real nice exhibit.

This 1923 Model R 25-45 Oil Pull tractor is owned by Franklin Orbaker, Vice-President of the Pioneer Gas Engine. Association. It was bought new in 1923 by a thresher in Ovid, N. Y. Franklin purchased it in 1927. He used it to thresh grain and beans, to run a 4-run pea viner, to saw lumber and husk corn until 1936. It was rebuilt in 1962 and has been at the PGEA shows and the Pagents of Steam.

Does anyone have a McVicker Automatic gasoline engine? These engines had no timing gear or push-rod. The igniter was tripped in the combustion chamber by a set screw in the head of the piston. The exhaust valve was opened by a rocker arm under the horizontal main cylinder.

The arm was actuated by a small vertical piston that was pushed out after the main piston passed a port near the end of the power stroke. The intake valve opened by the suction of the intake stroke as usual. The speed was governed by a small weight on a leaf spring on the hub of the flywheel that would lift off the electrical ground contact from a commutator ring that was around the crankshaft fast on the main bearing. While idling it would keep compressing the same charge every revolution until the electrical contact would ignite it. Any stroke out was a power and/or intake stroke. The engine I knew was 6 hp.