Details and Descriptions of Vintage Tractors

Wilfred Koskela shares detailed descriptions of vintage tractors he has worked on or admired over the years.

| November/December 1966

  • 1922 Rumely Oil Pull
    Photo courtesy of Lloyd G. Howard, Macedon, New York.
  • 15-30 Rumely Oil Pull
    Photo courtesy of Lewis H. Cline, Battle Creek, Michigan.
  • In corner of his garage workshop
    Photo courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana.

  • 1922 Rumely Oil Pull
  • 15-30 Rumely Oil Pull
  • In corner of his garage workshop

Learn about the details and descriptions of vintage tractors. 

Let me share some descriptions of vintage tractors I have worked with or admired. The picture of the Wallis Bear tractor on the front cover of the July-August issue brought to my mind the improved later model of the Wallis-Bear sold by the J. I. Case Plow Works Co. in Minneapolis just after the World War I. It had the same Tee head motor but a different radiator and a hood over the engine. The frame was a long U shaped trough of heavy boiler plate extending from the front down back to the draw-bar making a very strong rigid frame and serving as the crankcase under the motor and as transmission case in the rear making it one of the first large tractors with enclosed gearing. It had the same internal tooth master gears with the pinions to the rear of the bull-wheel axle. The exhaust was piped to the master gears just where the pinions engaged the teeth. It blew away the grit and dust and left a coating of carbon as a dry lubricant on the teeth. Also there is less rubbing action to internal teeth compared to external teeth. Another good feature was the independent brakes inside the transmission for each bull wheel. That made for very good maneuverability as you could hold one bull wheel and turn the front wheel crossways and the tractor would turn pivoting on one wheel. The tractor would pull three 8-foot grain binders at a good clip and was good to maneuver the binders around corners in the field.

Sam "Snore" Schnur does much of his magic modelling work at the new lathe in corner of his garage workshop. For years he made small parts on tiny lathe he made, himself.

Some of the disadvantages were the Tee head motor having large pockets in the combustion chamber for the valves making for heat loss and excessive fuel consumption. The radiator was set too low with the top about even with the cylinder heads, so in going down hill it would blow the water out of the overflow tube leaving the cylinder heads dry to overheat. When the tractor came to level ground the water would rush into the overheated heads cracking them. The next bad feature was the rubber diaphragm in the water port acted on by the pressure from the water pump to regulate the speed thru connections to the throttle. The engine would act wild when steam pressure fluctuated in the water jacket after the water was blown out thru the overflow tube on downhill drive. The spokes in the bull-wheels were too light for the weight and would spring and break.

Using the Aultman-Taylor 30-60 for harvesting, we used to put a larger pinion on the crankshaft and a smaller gear on the countershaft to get a speed of over four miles an hour pulling five 8-foot grain binders following the Wallis Bear with its three binders around the fields. The horses pulling binders could not begin to keep up to us.

The different tractors had their own good and bad features. The Bates Steel Mule when you got into a hard pull and turned, the tractor would lay down on its side like a real mule. the 12-20 Emerson three wheeler did the same as it had only one bull wheel inside a rectangular channel iron frame with the drawbar back of the wheel. The frame would twist on side hills so the clutch would not release far enough to clear the flywheel as the transmission was a separate unit of the motor. You had to stop the motor to get the transmission out of gear and after the motor was started you couldn't release the clutch to get back into gear. You had to jack up the lower corner of the frame to line up the clutch to the motor so it would release. Wasn't that a lot of fun?


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