Letters & Miscellanies

Tractor Conversions, Flywheels and Engine Show Weddings

| October/November 2003

Tractor Conversion

The August 2002 issue with the article on the Fond du Lac tractor conversion got me thinking, and I thought you might be interested in seeing copies of a brochure for a conversion. I don't know who made the conversion, but Montgomery, Ward & Co. was still selling them in 1938. I don't think rubber tractor tires came out until around 1934 or 1935.

Also, in 1935 my father pumped water with a single-cylinder, water-cooled engine. I don't know the make, but it was not a John Deere. The camshaft gear broke, so he went into town and bought a Montgomery, Ward & Co. engine identical to the one pictured in the owner's manual I have copied. We used it to pump water and run the washing machine until electricity came in the mid-1940s. I think the magneto went bad and the engine probably went to the iron pile. In my 25-30 years of going to shows and auctions I have never seen an engine like it. I don't know if they are scarce, or maybe people think they are too new to restore.

Harold Langbehn Box 453 Dysart, IA 52224

Copy of a circa 1938 catalog for 'Wards Improved Utility Tractor Unit,' a kit for converting the Ford Model T, Model A and 1926-1931 Chevy sedan into a tractor.

The engine is unquestionably a Nelson Bros. 3 HP VFG, and your dating of the engine to around 1935 lines up with Nelson's production of these engines, many of which went to Montgomery, Ward & Co. As for the conversion tractor, we don't have a clue who made it, as there were so many different companies offering conversion kits for the ever-popular Model T and other platforms. -Editor


There appears to be quite some differences of opinion a to the correct rotation of engine flywheels with curved spokes.