The Restoration of a Minneapolis

Minneapolis tractor

Content Tools

5463 Pawson Road Tipton, Michigan 49287

A few years ago Rod Hauenstein and myself went to look at a cross-motor Minneapolis tractor. Rod thought it would make him a good steel-wheeled tractor, but after he looked at it, he didn't want any part of it. All the way home I kept telling him what a good tractor it is. Then he said, 'If it's so good, you buy it.' So I did.

After I got the old wreck home, the fun began. The front wheels and fan shaft were the only things on the tractor that moved. The radiator was shot full of holes, the magneto was missing, the motor was set up, the steering was set up and so was the transmission.

We took the motor apart and sent the heads off to be fixed and new piston rings were installed. The pistons and cylinders were in very good shape compared to the rest of the tractor. The exhaust manifold had a crack about four inches long and I brazed the crack shut. We now had all the parts to put the motor back together. The motor has good compression on all four cylinders and a manifold free of holes. The governor was all there but was a mess. I took great care in disassembling it. The pins were drilled out and I replaced the (??????)shaves (??????)and they were cleaned and fixed. Once I was convinced the governor should work, I put it back on the tractor.

The motor should run if we had a magneto. The motor turns counter clockwise so it took a magneto that's wound differently than most. I gave this a lot of thought, and came up with a wild idea. I had a magneto off a Farmall H. The magneto was mounted parallel to the magneto drive. I used two chain sprockets of the same size, one for the magneto and one for magneto drive. I put #2 piston on top dead center and turned the magneto to time with #l and put on a chain. There was a lot of doubt that the tractor was going to run that day. No one was willing to crank the engine over for fear of it kicking back and the person doing it suffering a great amount of pain. So it was belted up to another tractor. The Minneapolis turned over about five times and was running very rough, but running. I wished I had a picture of the surprised looks on everyone's faces when the engine was running. Once the engine stopped, Rod fine-timed the magneto and reset the carburetor while I made up a water tank to help cool the engine. I still did not have a radiator. After a few hours, it was time to start the Minneapolis again.

Once again no one would crank the engine over, so it was belted up. The engine started better than the first time and ran really well. After running for awhile, we both felt it was a good accomplishment and next, we started on the transmission. The transmission was not set up too badly and we worked on it for two nights and had everything broken loose and shifting properly. By now the excitement was more than we could take. The steering was still set up, so we took the steering shaft off. I tarp strapped on the water tank and put in the gas tank. This time, I started the engine by cranking it by hand. As I remember, it took six quarter turns to start. I drove it out of the barn. When you wanted to turn you stopped, got off the tractor and put a bar in between the spokes of the front wheels to turn the wheels in the direction you wanted to go. Rod and I both took the Minneapolis for a ride that day!

After we got the tractor back in the barn, I started to work on the steering. It was set up the worst of anything on the tractor! The steering wheel was broken in six pieces and I gave all of the pieces to Alan Russell of Sand Creek and he put all of them back together and you would not even know it was ever broken.

I worked a few days on freeing up the steering with no success. The steering is a worm and pinion type apparatus. I kept soaking the steering with fuel oil. Finally we came up with an idea. If the roller chain and spokes worked on the magneto chains and binders, it should work on the steering. We chained a front wheel and back wheel to the north side of the shop and put a good pipe wrench on the steering worm shaft, then put a pipe about four feet long on the pipe wrench, and chained the pipe to the south side of the shop. Using chain binders we started to put pressure on the worm shaft so much so that the wheels on the north side came off the off the ground. Still the steering apparatus refused to move.

So then I got up there with a mallet and gave the end of the worm shaft a big hit. When 1 hit the shaft, the tractor hit the ground with a bang! Whoops! I broke something! After looking for what broke, we found it was the steering apparatus breaking free. We put the steering wheel back on and hooked up the steering shaft to the front wheels. So now you can steer the tractor the way it was meant to be steered. Once in a while a wild idea works.

By now I had a new radiator core using the old water tanks. The core was mounted on the tractor. Next, a hood and fenders were cleaned and sand blasted and primed. Two years have passed, and I finally found a magneto, so the chain and sprockets were replaced with the proper magneto. We started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and hoped it was not an oncoming train!

Now I had a complete cross motor Minneapolis tractor. A big cleaning job was started for priming and painting. I have taken the tractor to a few shows and have had a good time at all of them. What a nice reward for all the hard work!