WHAT IS IT?

By Staff
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A rather dramatic 'before' picture.
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Slow race at the 16th Reunion of the Georgetown, Ohio club.
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First slow race, 15th Reunion at Ohio Valley Antique Show.
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Putting the tractor together the first time.

2277 Berry Road Amelia, Ohio 45102

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in
tractors and machinery of all types. But with the thought in mind
that they would always be around as we know them.

Unknown to me on a cold January day in 1985 my thoughts and
attitude would be changing from, it will always be around, to
having importance and zeal of capturing part of the past that is
fast disappearing.

On that cold January day in 1985, a friend, Ray Curry, told me
about a burned tractor he had just traded for. Said he’d sell
it. A man might be able to put a small four-cylinder engine on the
transmission and build himself a small tractor. As to the make of
the tractor, no one knew.

I went to his shop and saw the tractor in sad condition. Burned
to a crisp. Aluminum brackets melted off. All rubber parts burned.
The wheels unusable being warped from the heat. But oddly enough
the cylinder head and piston cylinder didn’t seem to be
affected and the engine would turn over with compression, no
less.

The transmission housing and basically the whole structure of
the tractor was impressive. For it was built like a large tractor,
only small. Made from heavy gauge steel castings and steering
system that would put a large tractor to shame. It even had a
four-point hydraulic hitch. You could see a person could do
anything with this machine. All this powered by a one-cylinder
diesel engine, which we thought was junk.

The boy and I purchased it and loaded it up with the intent of
mounting a four-cylinder Chevy engine on it and building our own
tractor.

Once we got it home we noticed that in the scrap parts there was
an extra injection pump that miraculously escaped the fire and an
extra starter that was badly corroded, but not burned. We thought
let’s take a chance and get this starter rebuilt. Put this
injection pump on, rig it up someway or another and see if it will
run. We did and it did, to our total amazement. The only problem
was the seals and gaskets were all bad.

This has to be one of life’s great satisfactions, to hear a
machine that has been dead for many years and hope given up on it,
come to life sounding like it’s designers and makers intended
it to be.

I called many people. Everyone said they thought it was a Deutz.
I talked to several Deutz factory representatives, one from
Germany, they never saw anything like it. So we realized we are all
alone on this one. All we could do is put it together the way it
was originally and take it to the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery
Show and Reunion at Georgetown, Ohio, that summer. Having
experience in restoration on antique cars and a millwright by
trade, I knew even if parts are not available there are ways of
making and getting made what we needed. The worst scenario would be
that we would never find out what make of tractor it was and no
extra parts, but we would still have a working machine.

So we went to work making a fuel tank, hydraulic tank and hoses,
rigged up a hydraulic pump, made wheels, got tires, etc.

We discovered that everything was metric and had German Mann oil
filters all pointing to its origin being Germany.

Then an exciting discovery. One night working on the engine, I
laid the trouble light down against the engine. The engine still
had the aluminum I.D. plate on it, but all paint and letters burned
off. With the light shining on the plate in just a certain way, I
could make out the letter H. After about an hour of staring at this
plate it seemed the letters spelled out HATZ. I made more phone
calls, all dead ends, no one knew of a Hatz tractor.

So we made a usable tractor out of what we had, not knowing what
it should look like, not knowing what it was. Excitedly we
approached August and the 15th Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show
at Georgetown, Ohio, with the burning question; What in the world
is it!

Well we got to the show and everyone there was just great.
Everyone took our cross and carried it; what is this machine? The
boy and I talked to everyone, listening to every word for a clue to
the burning question.

On Saturday evening, one event we entered was the slow engine
race. This tractor has nine forward speeds, three reverse and being
diesel, you can slow the engine way down. At the starting line the
judge said ‘you can go now’. I let out the clutch, he said
‘Okay, you can go now.’ I said, ‘I’m going.’
About that time you could see the wheels were moving ever so
slowly.

Everyone started laughing and carrying on, telling other people
to come over and see this tractor. A great crowd started to gather
and the excitement was building up.

The P. A. announcer, Gene Bowen, called everyone’s attention
to the fact that some kind of record was being set at the slow
race. The tractor won the slow race, 50 feet in 3 minutes and 45
seconds! So then everyone wanted to see it go fast, so I obliged
them. Of course this made everyone more aware of the burning
question, what is it?

Well Sunday rolled around more interviews. We talked so much it
hurt to talk any more. It was about time to go home when an older,
experienced man walked up and said ‘I don’t know about that
tractor, but it is a Hatz diesel motor, you can get parts for it at
Dixie Parts in Dayton, Ohio. EUREKA! He further said ‘that is
one of the most economical running motors in the world and the U.S.
government buys a lot of them for generators, water pumps,
etc.’ In all the excitement I didn’t get the mans name and
I’ve never seen him again at any shows. I would like to thank
him again and have him see this tractor again, now that it is
restored properly. That took care of half the burning question.
Then the very next fellow that walked up said ‘I don’t know
about that engine, but that is a Bungartz tractor. I know, because
a nursery close to where we live in Hillsboro, Ohio, had one or two
of them. My dad was going to buy one himself in 1959, in fact, I
still have the brochure. And by the way, that nursery burned down,
so this could be one of those tractors. The dealer for parts was
Burton Supply in Youngstown, Ohio.’

Don Chambers is the name of this fellow who lives in Hillsboro,
Ohio. A couple of weeks later he sent me the brochure he talked
about. We got a first glimpse of what this tractor looked like in
its prime and an idea of what it could do.

Needless to say the next day, Monday after the show, I started
making phone calls. Engine parts are still available from Dixie
Parts of Dayton, Ohio, just like the gentlemen told me. Burton
Supply is still in business, but did not sell parts or Bungartz
tractors any more, but they were very helpful in giving me the
names and phone numbers of people who may be able to help.

Next we planned trips to see these people and purchase parts to
restore the Bungartz tractor.

First we went to see Bill Millspaw in the Erie, Pennsylvania
area. When giving directions to his place, he said ‘you
can’t miss the place for all the tractors’. We spent most
of the day there, just couldn’t get away. We learned a lot
about tractors and the Bungartz tractor in particular. We purchased
a 6 foot belly mower, decals, service manual. He offered to get any
parts from Germany we needed. A very unselfish man concerned about
getting our tractor together again.

Next stop in the same trip was to see Glen and Harley Authorholt
in Transfer, Pennsylvania. These fellows have been in the tractor
business since 1932, they used to sell Bungartz tractors and had
some parts. Again the nicest people you would ever want to meet.
They sold some parts and gave us some parts. They wanted us to
spend the night, we had a hard time getting away.

We still need a hood, front weights, and a lot of minor parts.
Remember, everything was burned out.

The next trip was to Culver, Indiana, to see Jerry Walker. Jerry
used to have a fleet of these Bungartz tractors on his tree farm.
These tractors were primarily used in hot houses, orchards,
nurseries, tree farms. The 90° steering lends itself to tight
corners, one-cylinder diesel to indoors and heavy construction with
hydraulics and power take-off to any job you needed to get done in
tight places. They were sold in this country from about 1958 to
1964.

We got to Jerry’s place, he showed us the last Bungartz of
the fleet. It was in excellent condition, a perfect example of what
ours needed to look like. Then he took us to the remains of one out
back. It had all the rest of the parts we needed to restore ours.
For a nominal price, he sold us all the parts we needed. That
tractor looked like a turkey after a turkey dinner, when we got
done. As all the people we have dealt with on tractors, Jerry was
very helpful and one of the nicest people you would want to
know.

It’s obvious in talking to people who know the tractor that
a great many of these tractors have been scrapped out just because
people didn’t know how to service them or where to get engine
parts. A tractor would be scrapped out for a minor problem.

With all the parts and help received, we were now prepared to
start all over again and restore the Bungartz properly.

It was an exciting project bringing it back to it’s original
condition as new. We were capturing history in solid form. I
thought 1959 wasn’t that long ago, but look around, most of
these tractors are gone. Look at all the more common makes of
tractors, Oliver, Massey-Harris, Minneapolis-Moline, Ferguson,
Fordson and more, fast disappearing. A way of life fast
disappearing before our very eyes.

We got the Bungartz restored and returned to the Ohio Valley
Antique Machinery Show and 16th Reunion, August 8-10, 1986 at
Georgetown, Ohio. Everyone received great satisfaction in seeing
this tractor restored to its’ original glory. If it wasn’t
for everyone’s help and concern this tractor would have been
dead history. And an added dividend is, we use the tractor all the
time to till the garden, mow the grass and other various chores. It
does this very economically also.

From this tractor, we have moved on to restoring other tractors,
trying to hold onto a way of life and machinery fast disappearing.
We have many more stories to tell you, and hope to tell you in the
future. We are now offering restoration services to people who, for
one reason or another, aren’t able to do it themselves.

We need to hold on to some of the past, for continuity of the
future. We are fast approaching a new century and the life, as we
knew it, is fast disappearing. Let’s save some of it for future
generations to enjoy the personalities of these machines.

Who knows, life and history have a way of turning around, maybe
we’ll be forced into using these reliable machines again.

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