My Little Mini ‘B’

By Staff
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My little mini 'B.'
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The engines that started the project. The rusty hunk is now running the Mini 'B.'
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Box 1152 Tomball, Texas 77375

I grew up in a small Iowa town with a farm economy. My dad
shelled corn and hauled products to market for the local farmers. I
became acquainted with oil and grease at the tender age of eight,
when I was allowed to ‘help’ service the trucks and John
Deere corn sheller. Dad would grease the bearings and I would pump
the grease gun handle.

At about age ten (1947 or thereabouts) there seemed to be large
numbers of one cylinder Maytags around. That was the time electric
mowers were taking over the jobs of pumping and running the wash
machines on the farms. I don’t remember all the details, but
several single cylinder Maytags were ‘acquired.’ Best of
memory is $5.00 was the going price. I regularly took them apart
and at one point made a composite motor and attached it to my
trusty coaster wagon with a pulley braised to the rear wheel. That
was my first motorized transport.

The following years up to 1992 were busy working, raising
family, traveling the world, living in England, South Korea, and
other places. There was not much time for nostalgia or Green
Machines. Then I retired……

In 1992 my brother, who still lives in Iowa, located a 1952 John
Deere ‘B’ that had been used the past few years only for
plowing snow out of a local small motel parking lot. The tractor
was in good shape and brought back thoughts of a long time ago. I
wanted that tractor! My brother met me in the spring in southern
Missouri, pickup to pickup, trailer to trailer, and transferred the
B.

That was the beginning of a renewed affair with oil, grease, and
green paint.

It took another few years to get past using the ‘B’ for
outings into the seven acres with grandchildren in the wagon. It
was also used for our barn dances and hay rides for city slickers.
As time went on, the nostalgia pull became greater, hence the trip
to ExPo 97.

Well, that really got to me. ExPo was the event that put me over
the top. Along with being agog at the large numbers of tractors and
engines on display, I bought a 1937 IH LA 1? HP that was running
and one that was just a heap of rust from the traders’ area. I
had no idea what was needed, just that it must be fun to try to
restore them. The re-learning period began. It took lots of calls
to suppliers, lots of rust removers, oil, gas, grease, hammers,
etc. By 1998 the two LA’s looked and ran like new. During the
same time frame it seemed everyone I knew had Maytags for sale.
That brought a dozen or so to the barn, including a 1914
upright.

A sale in New York state brought a 1928 Maytag square tub washer
and engine into the fold. A farm widow in east Texas let a rusty
old 1937 Turner hay press go from the field, and various other
searches brought two old Wisconsin engines that would work on the
hay press. Restoration of those fine old pieces of old iron gave
the confidence to go a little further.

The Mini ‘B’

Sometime in 1998 the LA’s were both finished up, looking and
running as new. Our old 1977 Sears garden tractor, sitting in the
back of the barn, had been an observer of the restorations and for
some reason, finally caught my eye. It had seen better days, the
motor was shot, but the frame and tires were in good order. I
visualized the frame with a big flywheel engine and green paint and
the race was on!! A local welder I knew, who had been doing some
cast iron welding on the Maytags, was tasked with making a frame
for the LA to sit in.

The Sears tractor was cleaned down to essentials and the LA
engine mated to the frame. The frame was made so the engine just
slipped into it and could be easily taken out for oil changes, etc.
All looked good, the flywheel was on the right side, the gear train
lined up. With lots of anticipation, the tractor was taken out for
a ride.

Great, right? Wrong!

Calculations were good, the engine looked good, the drive train
worked as planned and the sheet metal really gave the tractor a
finished look. BUT the engine turned the wrong direction! Much to
my surprise, it had six reverse gears and two forward! Imagine the
indignity when my dear sweet wife of 40 years hooped and hollered
about the green snail on rubber tires. Getting the gear train
reversed came about after the purchase of several V pulley belts
and lots of idler pulleys. Along the way another age old innovation
was seen using belting over the smooth iron pulley to increase
fiction. That was done and it worked.

That’s the story. I now have a mini ‘B’ that
probably cost more than a new lawn tractor, but certainly is ten
times prettier and a lot more fun!

A great return to oil, grease and green paint.

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