Betty’s ‘Little Pony’

By Staff
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Half scale Massey Harris 'Pony' in front of 1948 full size Pony and 1938 101 Twinpower Masseys owned by Rich Miller and Bill Hayes of Delmar, Iowa. Taken at Sandwich Early Day Engine Club Show in 1993.
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Half scale Massey Harris 'Pony' with standard size lawn chair in cornfield taken June 1993.

69 Dawn Avenue Piano, Illinois 60545

In 1991, while at the Badger Steam and Gas Engine Club Show at
Baraboo, Wisconsin, featuring Massey Harris, I took some pictures
of an M-H Pony. I drooled over that red and yellow masterpiece of
restoration. I usually go to Baraboo every year, but this year was
special. I took my 2/5 scale M-H model to be
part of the featured attraction. (I never had a featured display
before). When I arrived, I talked to Elmer Luck in charge of the
M-H display and asked if I could go in the parade with the Masseys
and he asked, ‘Why, what have you got?’ I showed him and he
said, ‘No problem.’ I was content to be at the back of the
pack, as long as it was with the Masseys.

Later on I was tinkering with one of the engines in my display
when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and Elmer
was standing there. He said the M-H people had talked it over and
decided that my tractor shouldn’t follow the Masseys. My jaw
dropped, but I said, ‘Okay.’ Then he grinned and said,
‘They think you should lead the Masseys in the parade. Will
you?’ I jumped up and said, ‘Do I line up now?’ He
chuckled and said the parade wasn’t until four hours from now.
I was ready now! Well, it was one of the greatest honors I have
ever experienced. A million thanks to Elmer Luck and the Massey
Harris people.

Anyway, back to the Pony. I toyed with the idea of a real one
and asked myself where I was going to keep it. (I have two 44s
outside under the tarps now.) Then I thought, another model? Then
my wife could have a Massey too. (We’re a team, you know.) It
would be easy to haul on the engine trailer. It would be CUTE!
(Maybe.)

But when I built the 44 I had the real thing to measure when I
needed to. Something to think about on the way home. Then an idea
hit me. I took the pictures I had taken of the Pony to a Xerox
machine and made enlarged copies of them. This left a lot of border
on which to write measurements.

We went to the Rock River Thresheree at Janesville, Wisconsin,
on Labor Day weekend. Lo and behold, there sat a shiny Pony
belonging to Willard Green of Footville, Wisconsin. I asked him if
I could take some measurements of his tractor and told him what I
was up to. He said, ‘Sure, go right ahead!’ I spent a
couple of hours measuring everything I could think of, including
radiuses of hood cutouts and fender curvatures, etc. These were all
recorded on the Xeroxes of the Pony pictures. Satisfied I had
enough, I went back to my display.

After a while I pulled out the pictures and looked at them
again. I realized that two dimensional pictures lose a lot of
clarity when you try to relate the location of one part to another
depthwise.

Then I got another brainstorm. When you look at an object with
the eye, it becomes very clear, so I got out the video camera, went
back to the Pony and went over every square inch of it slowly from
different angles so there would be time to study it when it was
played back. In the process, a humorous thing happened.

As I was lying on my back under the tractor shooting the bottom
of the transmission and final drives, this fellow walks up and
stares down at me. I didn’t say a word. As I moved the camera
slowly from the rear to the bell housing and frame, I picked him up
in the view-finder. I kept him in one corner of it as I proceeded.
He had a strange look on his face as he made up his mind whether to
speak or not.

Finally he braved a question: ‘How old is this tractor?’
I told him. After a lengthy pause, he asked, ‘What horsepower
is it?’ ‘About 11 or 12,’ I said. Then he looked around
and slowly backed out of the picture and was gone. I chuckled to
myself and imagined what he must have been thinking, ‘This guy
is really cracked. I better get the HECK out of here.’ This
tape became invaluable as I played it back 60-70 times during this
project. It helped the dimensions make sense sometimes and was the
source of a chuckle when things didn’t always work right.

The rest of the story is about the same as the
‘mini-Massey,’ choose a scale , find parts, steel, tires,
wheels, etc. at flea markets, auction sales, garage sales, scrap
yards. The exception was the transmission, rear end, final drives
assembly. I salvaged some gears out of an old riding mower trans.
Then I built all the housings up from pipe and flatstock steel,
welding together and grinding off the corners to look like one
piece castings. Roller chain was used in the final drives. I used
the cover off of the old transmission so I wouldn’t have to
make the shift forks and shift lever. A vacuum cleaner belt made a
good fan belt. (I had to make the fan too). Except for the Briggs
and Stratton engine, which received a modified crankcase, gears,
sprockets, rear wheels, the rest was built from scratch. I also
used a Honda motorcycle starter (160) and battery to put the go
into the engine on command.

I enjoyed building both tractors (most of the time), but the
debugging process can be very irritating. The ‘Little Pony’
runs great now, but it dropped me in two parades last summer. I
guess these things happen but WHY in front of so many people?

Anyway, I am proud of how it turned out and my wife likes it
too! It took about two years, start to finish, but I’m happy
that I did it now. I have gotten many compliments on it. That’s
a great feeling that I will cherish forever.

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