A 'Doodle Bug' and Its Descendants

| March/April 1997

 3931 S.E. 80th Street Ocala, Florida 34480

A few months after my discharge from the WW II Navy, I acquired what we came to call 'a five passenger baler.' It was a John Deere field baler. It required one person on the tractor, one to feed the baler and drop the blocks, two to feed and tie wires, and one more to stack the bales on the trailing wagon.

This was to be my beginning as a custom operator. Now came the big hurdle. In 1946 I could not buy, beg, or borrow a tractor to pull the baler. Finally, a neighbor who had been a friend of my dad's (Dad died while I was away in the service), said he would lend me his Minneapolis-Moline tractor, because he could use his 'Doodle Bug' to pull his mower and hay rake.

His 'Doodle Bug' was my introduction to the homemade, shop-built tractor. It was a much modified old Dodge pickup truck. The cab and the bed had been discarded. A second transmission had been installed, close coupled to the original transmission. Then the rear axle had been moved forward as close as possible to create a short wheelbase. The excess frame was then chopped off and a drawbar bolted on. Now with a set of balloon tires (6.00x16) on the rear it became a tractor. Like the early Ford-sons there was no governor, but with a possible ten speeds forward, a hand throttle worked okay.

Now the idea was planted in my mind. Why not build my own tractor? However, it was not long until I acquired a tractor of my own. A couple years flew by while I accumulated more equipment and more work.

Then, before I ever had an opportunity to build a tractor, I was diagnosed as having rheumatic fever. This altered my plans considerably. After spending most of one winter flat on my back in bed, I sold out in Ohio and moved to South Florida.