The Wonderful Wall is Tractors


Courtesy of Wm. Schwab, Route 3, Columbus Junction, Iowa 52738

Wm. Schwab

Content Tools

Route 4, Morrison, Illinois 61270

In the Jan-Feb. issue of G.E.M. we find, on page 7, a picture of a Wallis tractor owned by Gary Wolters of Ocheyedan, Iowa. These little tractors are thought of by many to mark a change in the history of farm tractors. This series, the Model K and the Model J that preceded it (see center top picture on page 15 of same issue) were the first farm tractors to have removable cylinder walls or 'wet' type of sleeves. They also are said to be the first to have all of the transmission gears enclosed and running in oil. Not only were they ahead of the parade in design, but were also far ahead of their day when it came to power output per cubic inch of piston displacement, or motor size. The Model K and the J were much the same except for the J being a three-wheel job. The design dates back to 1916.

The first Wallis tested at Nebraska State was a Model K rated at 15-25 horsepower. It developed 16.06 -27.57. To pull its 16.06 on the draw bar, it pulled 2365 pounds at a speed of 2.55 miles per hour. The pseed with no load was 2.98 m.p.h.

Probably the best way to judge the worth of the Wallis is to read the accounts on the tests run by the University of Ohio. In these tests, a tractor was hooked to a plow and then rated on both normal and maximum loads. At the Middletown, Ohio test, the Model K pulled 2300 pounds at 2.45 m.p.h. and developed 15.05 draw bar horsepower. At maximum pull, it hauled the three-bottom plow 8.58 in. deep. In this test there was only two other tractors that got above 15 drawbar h.p. Both of these were crawler type. A note is made on the test sheet telling of the west condition of the soil and stated that it was raining when the Reliable and the Wallis tests were run. Here is how some of the better known makes compared with the Wallis at this test:


Lbs. Pull


Drawber HP













Hart Parr












At the Fostoria, Ohio test, the spunky little K had good traction and pulled its three bottom plow 3.25 m.p.h. at 9.42 in. deep and put out 19.82 d.b. h.p. These Model K jobs pulled their loads with a motor 4-1/4 x 5-3/4' turning 850 rpm. (on the Fostoria test it would have to have exceeded this to do 3.25 m.p.h. under load). Normal, no load 3.98 m.p.h.

Just for a bit of spice, at the Columbus, Ohio test they had a Fordson that pulled its two bottom plow 7.86 in. deep and put out 10.78 h.p. at 3.09 m.p.h. Henry must have done a good job on that one, for sure.

The second Wallis tested at Nebraska was the model O.K. in 1923. This one ran 1000, developed 18.15 - 28-60 and was rated 15-27. This one weighed in at a bit over 4000 lbs. (The Model K weighed 3500).

In 1927 the O.K. 'Certified' was tested. This model had a motor with 1/8 inch larger bore 4-3/8 x 5-3/4. Belt h.p. went up to 35.29 and drawbar up to 27.01. By way of comparison I will compare it with the McCormick-Deering 22-36 that replaced the 15-30. The Certified pulled 2625 at 3.77 m.p.h. and the 22-36 pulled 2846 at 3.69. The 22-36 had a motor 4-3/4 x 6 inches and it outweighed the Certified almost 1 ton. Both motors ran 1050 r.p.m. and both burned distillate for fuel.

In 1929, Case came out with the Model L tractor which was sent to Nebraska test unrated by the company. It created quite a sensation in tractor cicles by pulling enough to rate as a 26-40. The Model L was a 'tractor' and there are still a few thousand left to prove it. This tractor had a motor 4-5/8 x 6 running 1100.

In 1937, the Wallis, then known as the Massey-Harris 25, was sent to Nebraska for test. It had a motor that measured 1/4 inch less in bore and 1/4 inch less in stroke than the L Case, but it whipped the L hands down. This motor ran 1200 r.p.m.

In 1938, Case sent an improved L for test that 'took the 25' by about 1-1/2 h.p. on the belt but still fell short on the drawbar by about the same margin.

The extra 100 r.p.m. was on the side of the Wallis but I feel that the real reason was that the '25' was using about 1-1/2 gal. of water per hour, while the L had no water injection. I have seen many Model L Case tractors on hand pulls using kerosene or distillate that would have done much better with a few drops of water coming their way.

In 1929, the Wallis brought out the 12-20 which ended up as the Twin Power Challenger and Pacemaker models for Massey-Harris. There were two of these Twin Power jobs tested at Nebraska 1937 test. One pulled 42.73 h.p. on the belt and the other 43.27 on gasoline. These Twin Powers ran 1400 r.p.m.

Two years later, McCormick Deering brought out the Model M with the same size motor (3-7/8 x 5-1/4) and there were also two of these tested at Nebraska. One developed 38.75 and the other 39.23 but ran 1450 r.p.m. on gasoline.

Throughout their entire history, the record shows us that when it comes to power output per cubic inch, the Wallis could top the list when they were compared with the best.

Good as they were, these old jobs did have their faults. The boiler plate frame, that at the start, was a step ahead, later became a serious drawback, saleswise.

It was necessary to lift the motor and transmission out of the frame in order to tighten the main bearings.

Another fault that many former owners can well remember is that on occasion the oil pump would lose its prime and this was often an expensive thing to put up with. One former owner of a Model K complained that his tractor 'had awful poor bearins'. I mentioned that I had heard that the oil pumps on some were not so good. His reply was that he never had any trouble with the oil pump, but those 'blame connecting rod bearins' were forever going out. He would likely have been ahead to have bought a new oil pump.

I like to read the record of these old tractors. There were other jobs that were outstanding also in their day. One of these was the Wetmore, made in Sioux City, Iowa. These tractors were sold with a few different makes of motors but finally settled on the Weidley - a good make with a long stroke and overhead valves. Some had Waukesha motors and some, the first ones I believe, used the Rutenber motor. I have heard that the motor was designed in Germany.

I have never seen a Wetmore tractor and have not been able to get much information on how they performed in the field, but they had the reputation of being strong on power but weak on traction. According to test reports, they had three speeds of about 2-3-1/2 and 4.75 miles per hour. One man claimed he had seen one plowing with a two bottom plow set at nine inches deep which it pulled on third gear. This could have been possible since the Weidley engine pulled from 27.50 to 29.50 horsepower on kerosene. This should be good for about 32 h.p. on gasoline if the manifold had a heat control (which the Weidley engine used in the Cletrac).

The Wetmore tractor was built much like a narrow tread, four wheel Allis-Chalmers, W.C. in regard to transmission, rear axle and final drive position and type. If anyone has one or ever has seen one in operation, I am sure it would be interesting to hear about.

Does anyone have a Fordson with, or know of the replacement rear end that was built for them? I believe it was called either the Hanson or the Hamilton? This transmission did away with the worm gear drive and the terrific heat and friction that went with it. With this rear end the Fordson was said to have been able to pull a three bottom plow as well as it could pull a two bottom with standard gearing, or pull a two bottom, much faster than with the worm drive.

I've never seen one of these jobs and always doubted the claims made for them, but one man told me that with the transmission you got a set of high, sharp spade lugs, a Waukesha high compression head, a cold manifold and a gasoline carburetor. I did know of a man who owned a Fordson that always astonished me by its power displayed in the field on a plow on 7 ft. disc with drag behind. One time I met this man and thought to ask him about his Fordson. He told me that it had a Waukesha head and a gasoline manifold and carburetor. He had the fast, or standard second gear, and he said that he could outpull a standard Fordson with the slow speed second without any trouble. His main trouble was the heat from the boiling grease in the rear end. Later on, I owned an Irish Fordson and on a hot day, the oil would boil in the rear end. My brother owned a 1926 American Fordson with a H-C head and gasoline carb. and once he succeeded in doing the same thing. When the engine stopped, the transmission sounded like it was still going.

So, it could be that with a transmission that did away with this terrific friction on the worm drive, a set of high spade lugs and the Waukesha set-up, a Fordson could turn out an amazing lot of pull.

These Fordsons with the special transmissions must have put on a good show. At DeWitt, Iowa they brought out a crowd of between ten and twelve thousand and up between Freeport and Rockford, Illinois, there were between twelve and fifteen thousand came to see the Fordson pull three bottoms. I wonder if the last named place could have been the old Track Bridge plowing match, rather than the Fordson alone.

Then along with all of these things, there was one more thing the high compression Fordson needed and that was a water pump. One man I knew bought one for his tractor and it made such an improvement in power that he refused to install a Bosch magneto, after he bought it, when he found that one was in the way of the other.

The best demonstrations ever put on as to the worth of a water pump was put on by the two cylinder John Deeres when they came out with their high compression jobs. This was once that John Deere slipped up and put out a lemon. The water has to get away from the head before the temperature goes up to a boil, or beyond. I rather doubt if the high compression heads for the Fordson were over 4.50 to one. (The Model A Ford and the 1928 Chevrolet, 4 cylinder were both less than 5-1). The Waukesha may have done better since the shape of its combustion was patented, but being made for thermo siphon engines, I doubt it.

There was one more tractor motor that seemed to be a marvel. This was the Midwest. The smaller size of this make had a 4-1/8' bore and a 5-1/4' stroke, which would be about 280-290 cubic inches displacement. It had a 2-1/2 inch crankshaft and run 1100 rpm. This little Midwest pulled from 29.78 h.p. in the Bates Steel Mule and 33. plus in the Allis-Chalmers 12-25 to a high of 37.38 in the Lauson 12-25. This compares with motors of 4-3/4 x 6 up to 5 x 6-1/2 running at 900-950 that put out from 30 to 34 h.p. The Lauson was tested in 1921.

The larger Midwest (4-3/4 x 6) pulled 47.00 in the Huber Super 4. The Midwest became the Waukesha valve in head and is best known by their performance in the Oliver Hart Parr 28-44 and 18-28. The old tests were run with gasoline. The Olivers burned kerosene and still run 1100. (The larger motors mentioned were also kerosene burners).

I sure would like to hear from someone who knows about the Wetmore tractor and the special Fordson transmission.

I got this engine out of a junk pile a little over a year ago. It was partly in the ground, the wood skids were all rotted away, no coil springs on governor or igniter, no gas tank, gas line or any of the gas feed was on it. The babbitt was all gone and there was no connecting rod bearing cap. I poured all the bearings, made a connecting rod bearing cap from an old main bearing cap from an old Chevrolet motor, used an old shut-off valve for the gas regulator and I had it running in about three months time.

Piston is 5 inch, Stroke is 10 inch and the flywheels are 36 inches in diameter, 3 inch face. Pulley wheel is 24 inches. On the engine it states 'Ever-Ready Iowa Spreader and Engine Company, Waterloo, Iowa.' I would like to know the horsepower of it and what color it should be painted. If anyone has one like it, I would like to hear from them.