1004 E Main Street Billings, Montana 59101
While on a vacation trip to Hawaii about 20 years ago with some 150 Flying Farmers, I had the pleasure of meeting a Mr. Bodine of Chesterton, Idaho who was also a flying farmer and an antique collector. In our conversation he was sure Kerosene Annie was still at the Allis-Chalmers LaPorte factory. Being an old A-C salesman, etc. for the Company for over thirty years in various capacities, I could hardly wait until I got home to fly to LaPorte. Sure enough, there she stood out in the yard under an elm tree where she had been since the 2nd World War.
I soon had the privilege of picking her up for a trip to Montana. To my surprise the trucker who was making a trip back that way agreed to haul her for us to the CX ranch, where I then lived, for $800.00, and he made the trip, he told me, without any Port of Entries. When they saw what he had, they just said go on to Montana!
Well, shortly after that, yours truly found himself in somewhat of a bind due to dry weather and low cattle prices. So nothing was done to Annie until this past summer when we started the long drawn-out overhaul to get her running once more.
First, the heads were off and the valves were ruined. We built new ones. Next the fuel tank was completely rusted out. We built new ones. Next the fenders were enough left for patterns of new ones. We put twenty tons by gauge on the pistons to get them out of the cylinders, each had five 5/8 wide rings. One cylinder measured 9' and the other 9 and 5/8' so we had twenty new rings made 5/16' wide to give us a little better fit. All the levers and clutch parts were badly frozen.
We made a special tank a few years ago where we had soaked all these parts for a couple years in a diesel solution to get them freed up. Both piston pins were very loose and we carefully ground them to round again and put new brass bushings in. After inserting the rings, pistons, rods etc. we belted the crank up and ran this assembly for some time to get it free and running smoothly.
Now for some of the accessories: the ignitors were inserted through the head from the rear and the barrel length was over five inches and when we checked the ignitors we only had one of the right size. The other one we had was much shorter as used on the regular early Rumelys. After checking all the mechanisms of the ignitor's operating parts and their dilapidated condition, we decided to abandon the old ignition system, therefore making two inserts with the standard mounting flange and closing the inner end, which we drilled to standard ' pipe thread to use the old standard ##' spark plugs of which we have an ample supply.
Then the problem of the magneto was solved with a high magnet K-W magneto. Then a new 72-tooth aluminum gear was cut to correspond with the timing gear on the crankshaft with the original intermediate gear so the mag could be installed, otherwise there wasn't room to get the two large gears together. We had no oil, fuel pump nor cooling oil circulating pump. We found three pumps of different sizes that we felt would do the job. The oil circulating pump for the engine worked perfectly, pumping a good flow through 12 different tubes with a good supply by passing through the crankcase to the filtering separate oil tank. The geared fuel pump works very nice once you get it primed. We still will have to find a slow speed cooling oil pump as the one we installed simply runs too slow for its type. We had to make a new mixer valve as the old one was long gone and with considerable rework of the mixer system we have that assembly working very well.
Now this tractor, of course, was a proto-type with the engine and radiator being built by Hart-Parr and was tried out with open ports as well as exhaust valves. When we removed the open ports had been blocked off, so we removed the two extra pipes. We cast the ports shut and honed them smooth with the rest of the cylinder. After here and there minor adjustments we felt we were ready to give old Kerosene Annie a chance for a new life. So we belted her up and she took off. With a few adjustments she now runs like a new sewing machine. No smoke either! Would you believe the cooling system holds 150 gallons and then 'This' the radiator and all fittings never leaked a drop, after 74 years!!
Robert Redman (retired bridge builder) and I did a lot of hard work on this tractor and we are very happy to see Kerosene Annie smile back at us for new heart, coat and home inside under roof with 20 of her direct decendents, all of whom are alive and running!
You all stop by an pay'em a visit!!
Oscar Cooke is proprietor of Oscar's Dream land, the Billings Montana home of his huge farm equipment collection. The collection includes over 300 tractors, dozens of station' ary engines and over 100 threshing machines. He is pictured with Kerosene Annie on this issue's back cover.