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Junkyard In Cordova

Author Photo
By Walter Woodrow | Oct 1, 1998

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Box 1249 Valdez, Alaska99686-1249

I thought readers would enjoy these before and after pictures of
my Allis Chalmers WC, serial number 128190. I belong to the Antique
Power Club of Alaska, Branch 52 of the EDGE&TA.

It all started one day when my wife called me from work and told
me one of her friends had just inherited a junk yard in Cordova,
Alaska, which is about fifty miles from Valdez. I have restored
several antique engines so this aroused my interest, thinking there
might be some old iron over there. The only problem, the only way
to get to Cordova is by boat or plane. There are no roads.

We ended up flying over a few days later. We landed at the Mud
Hole Smith Airport and the gal met us and drove us to the junk
yard. The yard is unbelievable. The old boy who had owned it had
been collecting stuff for 30 to 40 years. Unfortunately there were
no old engines. When we finished looking, the gal asked us if we
had seen ‘The Tractor.’ We had missed it, so we followed
her through the woods for about a half mile and there it was, or I
should say, what was left of it. The before picture I sent is the
one I took that day. It was in pretty bad shape. The tractor had
been sitting there in the same spot in the rain forest for 25
years. The rust was literally dripping off it. I identified it as a
WC by the serial number. At the time I decided it was too much of a
basket case to restore. We thanked the gal for showing us around
and flew back to Valdez. Out of curiosity I looked the serial
number up in a tractor book I have and found out that particular
tractor was built in 1944. They listed some with a stamped steel
rearend and some with a cast rearend. Mine has the cast rearend. A
few days later I found myself thinking about the tractor and what
it would take to get it to Valdez. I decided if I could get it to
Valdez, it would make a good winter project. With 30 feet of snow
in the winter, it might keep me from getting cabin fever. I flew
back over a week later with some friends to help me get the tractor
out of the woods. We had about one-half mile to drag the tractor
onto a dirt road. It sat in 100 ft. fir trees with a lot of brush
around it. The gal at the junk yard told us we could not cut any
trees. Fortunately the two rear tires still had air and calcium in
them and one of the front tires still had air. By using a
come-along and a lot of rope, we managed to pull the tractor around
the trees to a dirt road, where we towed it around into the junk
yard. It took us four hours to extract the tractor from the trees.
The engine was stuck, so I took time to drop the pan, and
discovered two bent rods and a broken sleeve. Someone in the past
had tried to start the tractor by pulling it. It looked like two of
the pistons had freed up and two had stayed frozen.

My next task was getting the tractor from Cordova to Valdez. I
found out from the Ferry System that I could tow a vehicle onto the
ferry, as long as I met the ferry when it docked in Valdez to tow
it off. I negotiated a price with a man at the junk yard to tow the
tractor to the ferry. We then returned to Valdez to wait for the
jewel to arrive. It arrived at midnight a week later. I got a lot
of laughs from the ferry crew as we were towing the tractor off the
ferry. I told them to give me a year and I would drive it back onto
the ferry.

I probably could have won some bets. The first thing I did was
remove the engine and disassemble it. The next step was finding
parts. Through GEM I found a source for pistons and sleeve sets. It
also had a bent cam shaft and bent rocker arm shaft, along with
some bent lifters. After I found all the parts I needed, I took the
engine to an engine shop in Anchorage and had the block checked for
cracks, a valve job with all new valves, guides and springs. They
assembled everything for me except the pan and cam. I finished the
assembly in Valdez. After four months the engine was done and ready
to run.

Now came the rest of the tractor. The rest of the tractor was
completely disassembled down to the last nut and bolt. Every part
was either bead blasted or sandblasted to bare metal, primed, and
painted Persian orange. All seals, packings and gaskets were
replaced. Any bearing or bushing that showed any sign of wear or
damage was replaced. The transmission and rearend, along with all
the other gear boxes, were disassembled and cleaned, any worn part
was replaced and reassembled. Most of the parts were obtained
through the AGCO dealer in Walla Walla, Washington, Story Tractor
in Tennessee, and Matt Simpson in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It took 15
months to restore. Most of that time was spent waiting on parts. I
set up the engine by the book and it started on the fourth crank (I
didn’t have a six volt battery). If this tractor had been down
south, it probably would have never been restored. It probably
would have been parted out. There aren’t too many tractors up
here so you take what you can get. Plus it let me add a tractor to
my engine collection.

I’m planning on having it in the local parades this summer
and have it in a few of the shows the club puts on this year.

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