Junk Pile Tractor

Harry with his junk pile tractor

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Rt. 1, Box 1041, Parma, Idaho 83660

First let me say that I am 91 years old and I can remember the first gasoline engine I ever saw, in 1900 my grandfather had it. Our power in those days was horse power and I have spent many days on the platform of an eight horse power, driving the horses furnishing power to saw wood. I have seen threshing being done with horse power, steam, big heavy oil and gasoline tractors. I also was in my teens before I ever saw an automobile. The first ones were single and two cylinder cars. Always having wheels in my head, I did trouble shooting on stationary engines, tractors, automobiles, and also built radios and repaired them for many, many years. I owned and operated threshing machines with steam power and many oil and gasoline tractors for power, later operating combines during my many working years. In my later years I collected some old engines to renew. Over the years I have built and helped build several tractors. My first one was when I was 16 years old using a 4 HP Cushman motor.

The engine in this little tractor I found in a junk pile, took it all apart and worked it all over, and it has run for many years on this tractor. This engine is an upright Nova 5 HP at 1600 rpm. It has a radiator and fan for cooling, roller bearings on main crankshaft, and runs likes a watch. I was getting close to 80 years old when I started putting the tractor together. I used the side channels from a Ford car frame for the side frame; Studebaker rear axle narrowed by cutting and welding; rear wheels from an Oldsmobile using brakes on both sides. The transmission is from a Chevrolet pickup four speed, drive from crankshaft to transmission roller chain. The front axle is from a model T Ford car, cut and welded and the front wheels from an old trailer dolly. Ford spindles were ground and bushed to fit the wheels. The steering gear is from an old Chevrolet car clutch-dry plate.

We have used this little tractor for many years and many grand- and great-grandchildren have driven it many, many miles. This picture was taken this last summer with myself at 91 years of age. We have a box we can slip on the back for hauling things. We use the four speed transmission, from 1 to 12 mph, have liquid in the rear tires, and can spin the tires in the lower gears, so we can pull quite a load. I drove it in the Old Fort Boise parade one year pulling a big JD tractor disc.

As an old time thresher I wrote this poem several years ago other old threshers might like it:


I sit in my rocking chair and dream
I am back in the olden days it seems.
I smell the smoke, hot oil, and steam
And wish it were not just a dream.

Back when I was a barefoot boy
Nothing brought me greater joy, than when
I saw the curling smoke, and then,
The threshing machine came round the bend.

It crossed the bridge and climbed the hill
In my dream, I can see it still.
I watched it turn into our yard,
Billowing smoke and puffing hard.

The separator was set on a level place
The engine turned as if in a race,
Backed into the belt and chocks were set,
Yes, in my dream I see it yet.

The separator man gave the go sign,
The belt ran true in perfect line.
The pulleys turned, the strawrack shook,
And then I took another look.

I saw the straw come billowing out
And grain came pouring down the spout.
The bundle teams drove in and out
And chaff and dust was all about.

The women folks were busy too
They baked and fried and boiled and stewed,
Each woman trying, as if possessed
To feed that hungry crew the best.

My job was to carry the water pail
And the water boy just did not fail,
For the heat was great and work was hard
No cooling breeze blew in that yard.

As I grew up it became my lot
To back into belts, keep boilers hot.
Many years I threshed the grains
Always trying to beat the rains.

The old threshing machine is about like me
A has-been that used to be.
All I can do now, it would seem
Of those old days, just sit and dream.