Build 'em Yourself

Vision, Skill and Ingenuity Come Together in the Making of Mini-Tractors


| June/July 2003



John Deere Model

I make theses tractors out of parts I col-lect over time, and it can some times take a couple of years to pull together everything I need. On the two tractors here, for instance, I collected, among other things; various Volkswagon parts, Plymouth wheels, skid loader tires, lawn tractor wheels, fence posts, well pipe, 5-inch gas pipe, 30-caliber machine gun box, a Briggs & Stratton single-cylinder engine, a two-cylinder Wisconsin engine and an old Dodge starter.

There are no plans or drawings for anything I build, but I do spend a considerable amount of time sitting on a bucket trying to figure everything out. The frame on the John Deere Model A is 4-inch channel iron, while the steering post is a piece of well pipe. The steering gear itself is from a Volkswagon, and the gas tank started life as a fire extinguisher. The homemade engine is for looks, and a starter from a Dodge Omni hooks into the side of the tractor and spins the hidden Briggs & Stratton. Modifying the manifold of the Briggs engine made it sound like a popping Johnny - that's when you can really turn heads.

Al's mini John Deere Model is a classic examples of the fabricator's art, skillfully crafted from salvaged automotive, lawn tractor and industrial parts.

Allis-Chalmers WC is a classic examples of the fabricator's art, skillfully crafted from salvaged automotive, lawn tractor and industrial parts.

The 1937 Allis-Chalmers WC uses an even-fire two-cylinder Wisconsin electric-start engine for power, a Cub Cadet hydrostatic drive and skid loader tires. It is a beautiful running machine that drives well, and it uses many of the same parts I pulled together for the John Deere. I made the Allis in memory of my father and the farm we worked on before going off to fight in World War II.

There are two seats on both machines, a feature we are well known for as my wife, Betty, goes with me to the shows. It's nice to have a good partner.