Letters & Miscellanies

Tractor Conversions, Flywheels and Engine Show Weddings

| October/November 2003

  • Bull's Eye

  • Wards Improved Utility Tractor Unit

  • Engine
    Engine pictured in a mid-1930s Montgomery, Ward & Co. catalog is a Nelson Bros. 3 HP VFG.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Gary McBride's Wedding Show

  • Bull's Eye
  • Wards Improved Utility Tractor Unit
  • Engine
  • Mr. and Mrs. Gary McBride's Wedding Show

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.

I have noted that with the exception of three or four very early American engines, all have cast straight spokes, which have proven performance record over their working life. Many engines built in England have curved spokes; this has engendered debate as to the proper direction of rotation, suggesting that stress relief will favor one rotational direction over the opposite.

As I see it as a qualified engineer, internal stresses would not have any effect and the flywheel rim would control such. With some experience in the standards adopted by patternmakers and foundry moulders of yesteryear, I think the possibility of stresses in any design would have been eliminated during manufacture, the last feature in the process being the allowed cooling time following the pour. It may be that the English designers admitted curved spokes just to embellish design features. I would like to see an opinion on this subject aired in the GEM magazine.

Tom Welch 6 Bushell Place Ardross 6153 West Australia

Hartig Standard gas Engine Co.

Larry Trammel, a long time antique motor collector and dealer in Chapel Hill, N.C., suggested I contact your magazine. My grandparents were long time friends of James Perry Wilson, an artist who is becoming known as one of the premier diorama painters of the 20th century. He was employed by both the Museum of Natural History and the Peabody Museum, and several of his works are on display at both museums. An employee of Peabody is currently doing research for a biography on Wilson and has discovered that his father, James Wilson, was an officer in the Hartig Standard Gas Engine Co. of Newark, N.J., in the late 1800s. The researcher is interested in any information that might be available about the senior Mr. Wilson, including titles, dates of employment, etc.

I appreciate any information anyone might be able to add to this search and will certainly credit them as the source.

Fred Schroeder fschroed@email.unc.edu

Unidentified Flywheel

Keith Rather's unidentified flywheel (see GEM, August 2003, page 6, query 38/8/4) is from an International (or McCormick-Deering) 1-1/2 HP M. My parts book (EC-1, dated 1931) says it is the governor-side wheel used on gas engines from 1923 to 1927 and kerosene engines from 1917 to 1927. These years may have all been igniter-fired engines. Judging from the photos, it still has the proper shade of green paint.

John Hamilton Waxahachie, Texas a.p.hamilton@worldnet.att.net


The magazine is really looking good. I especially enjoyed the article 'Show and Tell' in the August issue. Seems like the median age of people in our hobby gets older every year, and stories like this serve to stimulate interest in future members. Certainly the experience should serve as a model for any group displaying the objects of our hobby to younger generations. The last paragraph in that article should ring loudly to all of us that share the love of our old iron. Congratulations to Dave Rotigel and the others who brought this show to these young folks!

Chuck Schoppe President, EDGE&TA Branch 3 Los Gatos, Calif.

Blanchard Show Wedding

Mr. and Mrs. Gary McBride take a post-wedding ride through the show grounds at the 16th Annual Blanchard Steam and Gas Show in Blanchard, Mich., following their wedding at the show.

There was a wedding at the 16th Annual Blanchard Steam and Gas Show, Blanchard, Mich. Mr. and Mrs. Gary McBride, Mt. Pleasant, Mich., took their vows at a small, rustic chapel next to the show grounds. Using Gary's 1950 IHC Farmall M as their wedding vehicle, they drove around the show grounds with tin cans and old shoes in tow via the hitch on the M as both exhibitors and spectators wished them the best.

Roger Eldred 10750 S. Vroman Road Shepherd, MI 48883

Send letters to: Gas Engine Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265; rbackus@ogdenpubs.com


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

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