Bailey’s Parade Cruisers

By Staff
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Driver Bailey Welch of Topeka, Kan., is quite impressive at navigating the scale OilPull.
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An “in-progress” photo of the OilPull. Even at this stage it looks like a work of art.
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The Farmall tractor is powered by a 31cc Honda rototiller engine producing 1-1/2 HP.
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The 1/2-scale OilPull is powered by a 1948 International Harvester 1-1/2 - 2-1/2 HP LB engine.
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Bailey at 3 years old, when she drove in the Atchison County (Kan.) parade for the first time. Photo from Aug. 19, 2004, Atchison Daily Globe, Atchison, Kan.
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Bailey, now 4 years old, driving her little Honda-powered Farmall tractor.
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The scale OilPull all cleaned up and ready for show duty.

I live in Topeka, Kan., where Gas Engine
Magazine is located. My inspiration comes from the articles of
special small projects GEM has covered over the years. In
retirement I do what most old farm boys do; restore, build and
improve machinery. I have built a couple of scale tractors I think
readers may find interesting.

The Old Days

Growing up, we farmed 120 acres with four mules, and it really
changed our life when electricity came in 1951. Yes, 1951. We
didn’t have a tractor, but for a few summers in the early 1950s, I
worked for my Uncle Mike at his Allis-Chalmers dealership, the Yost
Motor Co., in Atchison, Kan. Raymond Spencer, a neighbor who had
farmed with horses, bought a new International Harvester M. The
talk at the table was he paid $1,200 for it and how much corn it
would take to pay for it. When I was 10 or 11, I remember plowing
under the 12-acre alfalfa field with our three-mule riding sulky
and 16-inch plow. I would watch the mules’ flanks very carefully
and I needed to stop about every half round to let them rest, and
every round in the shade of the hedge row I would change out a
mule. Each time we rested I could hear Charlie Tull’s Johnny
Popper, poppin’ away over the hill. I knew we would never get a

My Uncle Mike had built everything from real airplanes to toy
cars in my grandfather’s blacksmith shop as a young man and could
do anything. He got the bug from his father and I think I got the
bug from him. When I found I was going to have a grandchild, I
started my first retirement project. Living in town now, a
full-size tractor was out, so I thought a miniature Farmall would
be just her size.

Miniature Farmall

I wanted something I knew would last for many years. I began by
going to the local Honda motorcycle dealership. I bought a very
small 1-1/2 HP, 31cc Honda garden tiller for $350. I threw away all
the tiller parts except the dirt shields; they looked like good
fenders to me. What I didn’t know was the tiny 4-cycle OHV engine
idles at 3,000 RPM and has a working speed of nearly 10,000. The
Honda guys said not to worry about laying the engine down and
tilting it a quarter turn; it would run just fine even upside down
if I wanted it to. I geared it down with a 5-speed Peerless
transmission and down some more to the differential.

The hood is from a Western Auto-type pedal tractor. I cut a
2-inch-wide strip for the center so I would have room for the Honda
recirculation fuel tank. A few small dents from a child’s hammering
and a small rust hole remain for nostalgia. The seat is from a
small toy tractor I found at a junkyard for $12, bent and beat to a
pulp. I straightened it, reinforced it and made it adjustable so I
could set my 200 pounds on it. My granddaughter Bailey’s 28 pounds
would just spin the wheels on loose gravel when pulling other
children in a small hayrack I made, so I put a 100-pound cast iron
weight under the belly, so she can now pull a car.

The original pedal tractor steering was direct-drive to a single
front wheel, so I made a chain-drive reduction gear box, 2-1/2-to-1
for the wide-front end, but probably should have been 3-to-1 or
4-to-1. I couldn’t find a steering wheel I thought was the correct
size, so I used tubing I bought at the hardware store and bent it
with my conduit bender. I made a jig to hold everything in place,
brazed it and polished it before taking it to the chrome shop. All
the neighborhood children and everyone Bailey knows has driven
Bailey’s little Farmall tractor.

1/2-Scale OilPull

The next winter I began my second project, something a little
bigger for her when she gets older. My grandfather George Yost was
a farmer in Atchison County, Kan., and had a Rumely in those early
years. Like many, I always wanted a Rumely like Grandpa’s, so I
thought I’d just build one – 1/2-scale. I knew I wanted the best,
modern, open flywheel engine ever made, so I started looking for an
International Harvester LB. I found just what I was looking for at
the 2003 Ottawa, Kan., Power of the Past Antique Engine and Tractor
Show – a 1948 1-1/2 – 2-1/2 HP LB. I bought it for $165 and had it
running just 20 minutes after I got it out of the trunk of my car;
all I had to do was clean the points in the magneto. I also pulled
the piston just to make sure the rings were free, only to discover
the whole engine was like new; the timing gears weren’t even broken
in yet.

Over the 2003-2004 winter, I took many pictures of the building
process of my 1/2-scale 1917 Rumely OilPull Model H. I built the
axles, wishbone, frame, platform and radiator with exhaust
evacuation, from the many pictures and measurements I had taken. I
made the roof, radiator and fuel tanks from copper I bought at
Vincent Roofing here in Topeka. Gail Robbins, an Atchison County
childhood friend of mine and retired vo-tech sheet metal teacher,
showed me the proper way to draw out the smokestack for braking.
Gail gave me some green stuff to paint the top of the steel roof
and the underside of the copper with before I attached it to retard
electrolysis. The copper roof has no rivets or anything to hold it
on, just the roll around the 1/4-inch steel rod on the outer edges.
I have trailered the Rumely to Kentucky, Arkansas and Iowa engine
shows, and the copper roof is still tight as ever.

I tried to find some old wheels that were the right size, but
nothing suited me, so I built them from scratch using 1/4-by-8-inch
flat stock for the rims and 1/2-by-1-inch for the spokes. Topeka
Foundry did a fantastic job of rolling the rims for me, and I
bought regular farmer gears from Tractor Supply for the hub
flanges. Central States Machining & Welding, owned and operated
by a former welding student of mine, cut the teeth off the hubs I
welded and made several axle shafts. I made the spokes using all
the math I could muster. I used Grandpa’s Wheelwright measure to
mark the spoke placement on the inside and was shocked after
assembly when I spun the wheels to find them to be absolutely

A Rumely radiator is really special. The exhaust is routed to
the top of the radiator, then elbowed straight up through the stack
to pull cool air in the bottom, up the cooling tubes and out the
top by the exhaust. I drilled and tapped a hole in the head near
the exhaust port and routed the brass tubing to the top of the
radiator and back to the engine drain hole for return. The natural
convection cooling works well after we run it for a while.

I made a long clutch lever on the right side and a shifter on
the lower left – as close as I could to the old Rumely style. I
just used the original LB throttle. I checked the weight at a
garden tractor pull; it weighs right at 1,000 pounds. Bailey wanted
me to install an old manual “Aoooooga!” horn we had, so of course I
found a place for it.

My understanding wife, Jeanne, says it took nine months of
12-hour days to build, but was finished in time to drive in the
2004 Atchison County Fair Parade in Effingham, Kan. I always walk
along beside Bailey to remind her which way to turn to keep it
going the right direction. Once, I paused to say hi to some old
friends. Bailey, now 4, was heading toward the curb, and the crowd
was parting in a hurry. I ran after her and we got it turned in
plenty of time, but the sight of a 3-year-old heading at them sure
made them scurry!

A lady at the end of the parade asked the name of the little
girl driving. I told her she was my granddaughter, Bailey Welch
from Topeka. She must have been from the Atchison Daily Globe,
because the next day I had calls from friends in Atchison County
telling me there was a big picture of Bailey in the newspaper,
driving in review. Bailey thought it was really nice to have her
picture in the paper, and that is why I wanted to build a scale
replica of that wonderful old Rumely.

Contact engine enthusiast T.G. Shipman at: 4020 Kimball, Topeka,
KS 66617.

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